Saturday, December 15, 2012

Worst Business Correspondence I've Ever Seen

I just got this letter in the mail today.  We had this company aerate our lawns one time, then they came back a second time though we didn't authorize them.  I tried calling to tell them that we no longer wanted their service but they never answered the phone.  Finally, they were at a neighbors house, so I was able to tell them.

Here are a couple tips when sending business correspondence:

  1. Make it very clear what action you expect from the recipient.
  2. Be concise.  Don't repeat yourself.
  3. Check spelling and grammar

Do you have any additional tips for how to write business correspondence?

Click to view large size image.




Sunday, November 25, 2012

The End of Thanksgiving

As my four days off of work come to an end, I think back on how much I enjoyed this holiday.  Then I think about the conversation I had with a high school student last Wednesday.  He was angry with his history teacher for saying that the Thanksgiving story was made up.  Apparently the pilgrims never had a Thanksgiving dinner with Native Americans (I wish we could still call them indians).  If you think rationally about the story, it does seem a bit far fetched.  This really shakes my faith in holiday narratives.  I guess that even if Thanksgiving is fake, I at least have something to be thankful for: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Cupid.

Friday, November 9, 2012

California > Florida + Ohio

Why didn't California get more attention during the election? It's the most powerful state in the most powerful country in the history of the world.  We heard much about the swing states: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin, Colorado, North Carolina and even puny New Hampshire.

Look at how many times the candidates visited each of these states (in order):

State# of Campaign VisitsVisit was for Fundraising
Ohio1487
Florida11516
Virginia987
Iowa680
Nevada562
New Hampshire482
California4536

REALLY, New Hampshire's 4 electoral votes are worth more visits than California's 55?  Of course the real reason they come to California was for our money.  Only 9 visits to California were not related to fundraising.

If the 55 electoral votes from California were split into Obama's California and Romney's California, it would be two powerful states with 33 and 22 electoral votes respectively.  Florida has 29 and Ohio has 18 electoral votes.  Both states are a New Hampshire (4 electoral votes) size smaller then California's split states!

WAIT!!!  You might think this is just a Republican ploy to get more electoral votes.  Problem is that the swing in 44 electoral votes (-22 for Democrats and +22 for Republicans) would not have changed the results in any of the elections over the last 50 years (I got tired of looking after 1960).

2012 Obama wins by at least 68
2008 Obama wins by 192
2004 Bush wins anyways
2000 Bush wins anyways
1996 Clinton wins by 220
1992 Clinton wins by 202
Republicans took the state in 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988 so Democrats would have benefited
1964 Johnson wins by 434
1960 Kennedy would have picked up extra votes

What Exactly am I Proposing?

End the winner-takes-all allocation of electoral votes in California, switching to a proportional allocation.

Some might argue that this deviates from the original intention of the founding fathers.  They wanted to avoid the problems of selecting a president by popular vote.  The reality is that what we have today is pretty close to selecting by popular vote.  The only difference is some of the problems outlined above.  Either way, the U.S. Constitution grants the states the rights to determine how to allocate their electoral votes, so this would be totally constitutional.  This is a state's rights issue, not a national one.

So why do it?


Reason #1: Focus Attention on California During the Campaign

Did you find yourself scratching your head about debating over coal or automobile manufacturing?  These might be important issues, but what about California's issues?

Reason #2: Increase Voter Participation

California had about 51% turnout for registered voters while the swing states had 78%.  Fewer Californians registered to vote (77% of eligible voters) compared to swing states (84%).  The difference is around 5 million fewer Californian voters.  Talk about voter suppression.  The first time my son voted, he was excited until he realized that his vote didn't matter.  I'm sure the 5 million feel the same way.

Reason #3: Keep California in the Game

Due to the later time zone, sometimes the election is decided before the polls in California even close.  The news showed long lines at the polls.  When I voted, there was no line.  I would love to see Californians rushing to the polls, engaged in the election.

So what can you do about it?

Sign this petition: http://signon.org/sign/no-more-winner-takes?source=c.em.mt&r_by=5906874

FAQ


Why use signon.org?  Aren't they a liberal organization?  signon.org is associated with moveon.org which is considered liberal, but the intent and strategy is to be non-partisan.  It was used by a couple of high school girls to petition the Presidential Debate Commission for female moderators.  It worked for them, maybe it will work for us.  If there is a better petition organization, then by all means lets use it.  There are already many like-minded, fair voting organizations that might be better suited to align with.

Do I have to give my email to moveon.org when I sign the petition?  A good strategy is to have multiple email addresses for various purposes.  I created a unique email address specifically for this cause: nomorewinnertakesall@gmail.com.  It's already been spammed by moveon.org.  Let me know if yours gets spammed.

Sources of Information:

http://www.politico.com/2012-election/map/#/President/2012/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population
http://www.politico.com/2012-election/swing-state/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/2012-presidential-campaign-visits/
http://www.270towin.com/states/California
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/scores.html#1992
http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout_2012P.html

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No more winner-takes-all electorate


Dear Friends and Family,

I'm sending this to you since I think you might be sympathetic to my "cause".  Sorry if this seems like spam but I tried to be selective in who I sent this to (no church member lists).

I decided to take personal action while I'm still motivated.  I'm tired of my vote not counting in California since I am a political minority.  55 electors is too big a chunk to hand over to one party, so I think it should be split up.  Why should Ohio or Florida have so much sway?

That's why I created a petition to The California State House, The California State Senate, and Governor Jerry Brown, which says:

"My state should no longer use a winner-takes-all assignment of electors but should instead use a proportional elector allocation for national elections."

Will you sign this petition? Click here:

http://signon.org/sign/no-more-winner-takes?source=c.em.mt&r_by=5906874

Hopefully you can share with your networks.

Thanks!

Ron Carter

P.S. I saw an interview on C-Span on how moveon.org has become a strong political force, so I decided to use their petition generation to push my cause.  Fight fire with fire.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Obama 2.0

I decided to blog my feelings on the election while my emotions are fresh.  You can skip to the last paragraph if you are glad President Obama was re-elected.

First, I'm deeply disappointed that we won't get to see what Mitt Romney could have done.  Mr. Turn Around won't get his chance.

Second, I'm going to have a hard time forgiving President Obama's campaign for the way they slandered Mitt Romney.  I know it is all in the name of politics, but I never forgave George Bush Sr. for using the same politics against Ronald Reagan in the primary.  As a consequence, I never trusted George Bush Sr. since I felt he would say and do anything to get power.  That's how I feel about President Obama.

Third, since I brought up the trust issue, Obama has to earn my trust.  Accumulating over $5 trillion in additional debt his first term destroyed my trust.  He can earn my trust by doing what Bill Clinton did his second term: end with a budget surplus.  Clinton started his second term with about $5 trillion in debt and ended with about $5.6 trillion.  If President Obama can keep our current $16 trillion dollar debt from surpassing $17 trillion by 2016, then he will have earned my trust.  President Obama can invade whatever country he wants, send drones wherever he wants, give free health care and food stamps to the whole world; as long as he doesn't borrow a nickle to do it.

Fourth, I decided to throw in a positive emotional response.  In 2008, I was proud that our country elected a black man to be our president.  It was a historic event.  I'm happy for the blacks in this country who put a lot of hope in President Obama.  Tonight cemented the fact that in spite of a bad record and a much more qualified candidate, we can act post-racial.  I also hope that the President is a role model for millions of black youths, showing them how to be a successful black man: devoted husband and father, a professional, etc. (etc = only his good qualities).  (If you don't like me being civil, then you can read what Thomas Sowell wrote about Barack Obama becoming the first black president here).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Romney Takes A Knee

Saturday I watched my team play against a stronger football team.  I was excited as our team lead at half time.  As the game progressed, the other team came from behind and went ahead 3 points.  We had a couple of shots at pulling ahead and then they got the ball.  With little time left, they hiked it to their quarterback and he took a knee.  The clock ran down and they won.  Game over.  There's nothing more frustrating than that moment when you realize that there is no more hope for your team.  First time I experienced this I was mad at the other team.

As we watched the debate, we were wondering about Governor Romney's strategy.  I mentioned that it was like watching two people argue while the whole time they are actually agreeing with each other.  Someone thought Romney was going to play tough at the end.  He didn't.  He took a knee.

In other football news, I read about the Tennessee game:

“Tennessee played a great game tonight. They were well prepared and well coached, and the team executed the game plan flawlessly. The loss was due to the poor policies left over from the Fulmer era.”

Update November 7, 2012:

Looks like Romney took a knee when he should have kept enough time on the clock to kick the winning field goal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Honest Take of 2nd Presidential Debate

I watched the debate last night and several people asked me today "Who won?"  My answer was "your candidate won".  It's interesting how we all suffer from cognitive bias, ignoring the things that go contrary to what we want to believe.  So I am going to attempt to be as honest as possible about last nights debate.

The Moderator

I read reports that Candy Crowley was planning on playing a bigger role in the debate, asking additional questions.  She apparently has demonstrated a bias towards President Obama in the past, so the fact that she was selecting the questions concerned me.  I however, was pleasantly surprised.  The questions seemed balanced.  Regarding her additional questioning, I actually liked it.  Candidates do a good job of answering any question with their talking points.  She seemed to attempt to make them accountable.  Apparently she interrupted Governor Romney significantly more and gave President Obama more time.  I'm not going to criticize the little stuff.

The Candidates

It would be really nice if the candidates, after being asked a question, would look the person in the eye and give them a specific, direct, honest answer.  Of course, they couldn't do that, but it would be nice.  However, these guys are good on their feet!  I liked their response to "How is Mitt Romney going to be different than George Bush?"  Governor Romney made the respectable case for what he would do better. Obama responded that Governor Romney is different from Bush in that he was going to be worse than Bush on social policies.  Very clever on both their parts.

President Obama

I thought he had some great responses.  The most impressive was his passionate argument about how much he cares about the problems in Libya.  He also pointed out his record on opposing the war in Iraq and then pulling out.  That's quite an accomplishment.  I noticed a couple of negative patterns.  One is an insistent  construction of a straw-man portraying Romney as a selfish, greedy, uncaring Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life".  The other pattern is that addressing problems always seems to involve other people.

  • Got a debt problem?  Make rich people pay for it.    
  • Need healthcare?  Require insurance companies to cover you and require that health providers do more for less compensation.  
  • Having problems in the Middle East?  Blame an anti-Muslim film, your intelligence community, etc. 
  • Stuck with a bad economy?  Blame Bush.  
  • Have trouble keeping your promises?  Blame Republicans in Congress.  
  • Need to improve pay for women?  Pass a law (meanwhile no significant improvement has been made [1] and even his own staff suffers from unequal pay [2])


Governor Romney

It's not fair that Governor Romney has the actual record of an incumbent in a bad economy to point fingers at.  He definitely  does an excellent job of exploiting this advantage.  I really wonder if Romney had been elected in 2008, how the record would be different.  There's really no telling, but my guess is it would be better.  He got feisty, which is good and bad.  Good because I want to know that he is able to fight the current power brokers who seem to be failing us.  Bad because it doesn't seem presidential.  Of course, he never was silly like Joe Biden's performance last week.  I think he made a mistake on the Libya issue.  I still feel he blew it on Sept. 11 when it made the attack on Benghazi political.  Sure the White House has sent confusing signals on what they think caused the attack, but we should be united in our fight against this.  Finally on the deficit, I'm going to have to trust that the jobs Governor Romney's plan will create will result in enough revenues along with the cuts are enough to balance the budget.  The way I figure it, 16 million new jobs can generate at most around $250 billion in revenues (maybe double that counting all payroll taxes and taxes on increased business).  With entitlement costs rising and current deficits at $1000 billion, that's a lot of cutting.  He's way smarter than I am, getting an MBA and Law Degree simultaneously, running a business and make millions along the way, so it remains to be seen.  I'd like to see what he could do.  I wish he would have used the line "Is it worth borrowing money from China to pay for this government program?"

More Deficit and Debt

I think the way our current political system is set up,  it's impossible for a candidate to be "candid" about our debt and still get elected.  I think we are reaching the tipping point where we won't be able to afford the interest payments on our debt and the slightest bump in the road is going to upset the cart.

Conclusion

I'm not sure how well I did at overcoming my own biases, but at least I tried to acknowledge the positive and negative points for each candidate.  That's more than I can say for most of what I've read today.

Update 10/18/2012
I just read that Federal welfare payments exceeded a trillion dollars last year ($1000 billion), so it looks like there is more savings than I originally thought.  If more people have jobs, fewer are on welfare.
http://dailycaller.com/2012/10/18/report-welfare-governments-single-largest-budget-item-in-fy-2011-at-approx-1-03-trillion/

Friday, October 12, 2012

Old Guys Rule

I used to play pickup basketball weekly.  Sometimes, while picking teams we would say "old guys against the young guys".  The young guys would get smirks on their faces, excited that they had the advantage: young, fast, energetic.  Pretty much every time, the old guys would win.  They weren't as fast.  They couldn't jump as high.  On the other hand, they had experience and played smarter.

We just had two debates:

65 year old Mitt Romney against 51 year old Barack Obama
69 year old Joe Biden against 42 year old Paul Ryan

A majority agree that the 65 year old beat the 51 year old.
It also looks like the 69 year old had a stronger showing than the 42 year old.

It wasn't policy.  It was just that old guys rule.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mitt Romney Lied About Spain?

Mitt Romney's comments during the first presidential debate about Spain drew criticism from leaders in Spain.  They said his statements were not true.
http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/03/spain_reacts_to_romneys_spanish_cautionary_tale

Meanwhile, today the S&P downgraded the credit rating of Spain
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-10/spain-downgraded-to-one-level-above-junk-by-s-p-on-risks.html

The quote from Romney: "I don't want to go down the path to Spain".

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mitt Romney's Trash Collector

I just finished watching the debate tonight.  As I anticipated the debate earlier today and imagined what it would be like to be give the equivalent of oral exams with an opponent in front of 50 million Americans, I thought that both of these men are pretty amazing.  I couldn't do it.

I think it was the best debate I've ever watched. Though half of you will disagree with me, I thought they were two of the best candidates we've had for a long time.  One of the lowest points I experienced was a Bob Dole rally in 1996.  I attended the rally not as a Dole fan but instead out of convenience: it was in the parking lot at my company.  Governor Pete Wilson gave the opening remarks and I was ready to vote for him for President.  He was good.  When Bob Dole spoke is was one of the most disappointing things I've ever experienced.  I never was excited about either Bush.  McCain was just a notch above Dole in my view.

On the Democrat side, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry didn't seem like much either.

No matter how people try to spin who Mitt Romney is, the truth is he's an impressive man.  The only attacks seem to be against a straw man.  This most recent add made me laugh (Not at Richard Hayes, but instead at the people who thought up the ad).

Richard says that sometimes residents come out and shake their hands, and give them hugs and that Mitt Romney doesn't care about him. He says that lifting tons of trash by hand is breaking his body (even thought the opening scene clearly shows the robotic arms on the trucks that lift and dump the trash cans). The straw man here of course is the person in side their house who never interacts with their trash collector. Of course that description fits a large majority of Americans. But this straw man is insensitive and doesn't care. A little research by the labor union producing the ad would have found out that Mitt Romney spent time doing various every day jobs when running for governor, one of which was - garbage collector.  Here's a quote from his book:
I decided to spend a day every few weeks doing the jobs of other people in Massachusetts. Among other jobs, I cooked sausages at Fenway Park, worked on asphalt paving crew, stacked bales of hay on a farm, volunteered in an emergency room, served food at a nursing home, and worked as a child-care assistant. I'm often asked which was the hardest job—it's child care, by a mile. One day I gathered trash as a garbage collector. I stood on that little platform at the back of the truck, holding on as the driver navigated his way through the narrow streets of Boston. As we pulled up to traffic lights, I noticed that the shoppers and businesspeople who were standing only a few feet from me didn't even see me. It was as if I was invisible.
 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Freedom of Speech vs. Religion - 3 Case Studies

Here are 3 interesting cases of freedom of speech vs. religious persecution.

Case 1:  Trailer for Anti-Muslim Film on YouTube

The official response
U.S. Embassy in Cairo (tweets):

"We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others"
"Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy" [link]

The reaction of those being persecuted
Offended Muslims riot and burn buildings (U.S. Embassies, businesses, etc).  In the process, a U.S. Ambassador and 3 other U.S. Citizens were murdered.  This happened in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen. [link]

Reaction to the persecutor
The Filmmaker was brought in for questioning at the sheriff's station by federal probation officers  to see if he could possibly be sent to prison on unrelated charges.[link]

Case 2: Main Street Church to pass out Anti-Mormon literature outside the new LDS Temple in Brigham City during a public open house

The official response 
Brigham City requires a permit based on a city ordinance passed in 2010.  The church was granted a permit that restricted the number of people to four per day and further restricted their activities to the least trafficked north and south sides of the buildings.

The reaction of those being persecuted 
No rioting

Reaction to the persecutor
Main Street Church is represented by the ACLU, suing Brigham City for the right to persecute people attending the Temple open house.  They win the case and can now send as many people to surround the Temple as they want.

[link]


Case 3: "Book of Mormon" Broadway musical, disrespectful, obscene satire of Mormon religion

The official response
No official response.  Public and media: applause, laughter, praise



The reaction of those being persecuted

"The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ." [link]
Also, the LDS Church purchases advertising space in Playbill with photos of smiling Mormons saying "You've seen the play...Now read the book" and "The book is always better" [link]


Reaction to the persecutor

Tony Award, Grammy Award [link]


Analysis

Though freedom of speech and freedom of religion can be at odds, I think that attacks on a religion should be done in a venue away from religious worship.  For example, a theater or YouTube are valid forums to express critical viewpoints of a religion.  Taking the criticism to the place of worship of those being offended is not acceptable.  For example, expressing anti-Muslim views at a Mosque, or anti-Semitic views at a Synagogue, or anti-Catholic views at a Cathedral or anti-Mormon views at a Temple.  Even worse would be to express those views at a sacred time such as Ramadan, Rosh Hashanah,  Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Easter, Christmas or in Case 2, the opening of a new Temple.

Case 1: Free Speech as violent as the response was, should be allowed.
Case 2: Free Speech should be restricted as to not impinge on the free exercise of religion.  And criticizing another religion is not religion, it's speech.
Case 3: Free Speech, though offensive to some, should be allowed.

I can choose not to watch a video on YouTube and I can choose not to go to a musical.  On the other hand, if I choose to go to the place of worship for my choice of religion, I should not have to face the bigotry disguised as free speech as it distracts from my purpose for worshiping: to find a place of peace in a world filled with turmoil.

Update 9/18/2012
I thought this was a nice image of a PRO-American rally.  http://www.businessinsider.com/benghazi-protests-against-attacks-photos-2012-9#


Update 9/29/2012

I'm not the only one who sees the hypocrisy
http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/innocence-mormons_653223.html?nopager=1

Friday, September 7, 2012

I'd Rather Live in America, Part 2

Once again, the Pakistanis have shown religious intolerance by putting a young Christian girl in jail for blasphemy.  According to some reports, she suffers from Down Syndrome and is somewhere between 11 and 14 years old.  She is in the same jail as the convicted killer of the local governor (see my post here about that case).

The local Imam "encouraged local people to evict the child’s family from the area" after Friday prayers.  The land mafia also wanted to expel the Christian community from the area.  People don't like to have their religion criticized.

I'm not sure what the girl said that was blasphemous, but if I did know, I wouldn't tell you because then I would be committing blasphemy myself.

http://dawn.com/2012/09/08/christian-girl-facing-blasphemy-charge-gets-bail/

Update October 9, 2012
The Taliban shot a teenage girl who was advocating for girls' rights to an education.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/taliban-says-it-shot-infidel-pakistani-teen-for-advocating-girls-rights/2012/10/09/29715632-1214-11e2-9a39-1f5a7f6fe945_story.html




Thursday, September 6, 2012

Drunk Mirror

The Brazilians invented the Drunk Mirror and installed it in bars.  What it does is delays what you see in the mirror by 2 seconds.  The idea is to raise awareness of how alcohol impairs the drinker.  I wonder if it is helping.  About 5 weeks ago, a respected member of our church, 60 year-old father of 5 children and grandfather was killed by a drunk driver on the freeway.  There is an on ramp and off ramp next to each other.  A delayed reaction resulted in the driver turning on the latter, ignoring the "DO NOT ENTER" sign and hitting and killing this innocent man.

I know many people who drink responsibly with no apparent side effects.  I also know of many cases of lives being ruined by drinking.  A review of localcrimenews.com shows that a large number of crimes are related in some way to alcohol consumption.

I'm still trying to sort out my opinion on how to prevent the tragedies without repeating the mistake of Prohibition.  For me personally, I choose not to drink.

You can watch the video and read about the drunk mirror here:
http://www.fastcocreate.com/1681472/drunk-mirror-experiment-gives-bar-goers-something-to-reflect-on

Translations from Portuguese:


Como chamar atencao das pessoas para o risco de beber e dirigir
=How to call attention to the risk of people drinking and driving

Usamos um espelho diferente para alertar as pessoas
=Use a different mirror to alert people

Um espelho com delay
=A mirror with delay

E´ assim que seus reflexos ficam depois de alguns drinks
= This is how your reflexes are after a few drinks

Um conselho: se beber, nao dirija
=Some advice: if you drink, don't drive


Monday, September 3, 2012

Character References

I decided to put together a quick reference to the video testimonials for Mitt Romney's character.




And one that isn't from the RNC:

Links: Neo-neocon

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dark Knight Rising Tragedy

This morning I learned about the tragic shooting in Aurora Colorado.  My heart breaks for the families and community where this happened.

I would like to comment about this event in a larger context, specifically on how we should react to this event.  I don't blame the filmmakers or gun makers.  The truth is that we like to watch violence.  I don't know why, but it's worth some contemplation.

In the previous Batman movie (The Dark Knight), 26 people were killed, according to  http://bodycounters.com/bodycounts.php.  (I couldn't find statistics for Dark Knight Rises).  More than twice as many murders and not a single flag flown at half mast.  Of course, the 26 killed in The Dark Knight were fictional.  The argument against this comparison of course is that those weren't "real" murders.

But what if you found out that more than 26 "real" murders happened yesterday.  And the day before.  And the day before...all adding up to about 10,000 violent deaths over the last year.  Innocent people murdered here in the United States.  The cause?  Drunk Driving.  Drunk drivers have killed over 250,000 people over the last 2 decades.  No call for another Prohibition (we learned our lesson there).  But also, no call to fly flags at half mast and no 24 hour-a-day news media blitz.  Why aren't there more news stories about this bigger story?  We obviously are morbidly interested in violent death.  This is a fact that filmmakers have discovered and exploit to sell more tickets.  (I think it works since they allow us to feel fear without actually having anything to be afraid of).  I think we need to ask ourselves, "Do I really need the emotional arousal of watching violent death to be entertained?"  I wrote about this before here.

In conclusion:

Don't point the finger.  Don't make any new gun laws.  Don't blame the Tea Party, Hollywood or any other group.

Do ponder your feelings about the suffering of others.  Consider how you want to react to the visual depiction of violence to others, even if it is fictional.  Human suffering is real, widespread and is not going away.  Decide what you can do each day to reduce the suffering of a fellow being.  Smile.  Say a kind word.  Perform an act of charity.  Maybe if Jim Holmes hadn't felt so isolated and desperate.  Maybe if he had more people reaching out to him.  Maybe he wouldn't have resulted to this horrific act of desperation.

Maybe if by connecting on a human level with someone you know, they would feel less inclined to drink themselves senseless and then get behind the wheel of a car.  Maybe you could save someone's life.

Update 7/25/2012
Positive:
Someone posted the story of a mother's advice to her child upset by some past horror: "Look for the helpers".  I am inspired by the men who used their bodies to protect their girl friends.  A reminder for each of us to be a "helper".
Negative:
I just found out this disturbing information.  The following trailer played in the theater before the shooting.  It shows men shooting into a crowded theater.  Maybe we should blame Hollywood after all.  Go to 2:03.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Washing Feet

I heard an inspiring news story this morning.  There's a charitable organization called Samaritan's Feet that was providing new shoes and socks for the homeless in San Diego.  The part of the story that touched me is that they have volunteers wash the feet of the people before they put on their new footwear.  You can read the story here.  Here's the original story that inspired this event 

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded...


So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.  John 13:4-17


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

24 is the new 18 and 49 is really 31

Apparently 24 is the new 18.  It has something to do with the brain not being fully developed until the age of 24, or kid's living with their parents longer, or just irresponsible behavior of the under 24 crowd.  You might think it is related to the "40 is the new 30" or "50 is the new 40" etc. movements, but I think I have a better explanation.

The reason for all of this age confusion has to do with the "Internet Generation".  Our lives are now fully immersed in computer technology: we work on computers, get entertainment from computers, shop on computers, bank on computers, even our phones are computers.  And guess what?  Computers count different then we do.  People use their ten fingers for counting (decimal) while computers use 1's and 0's.  As a compromise, programmers use "hex" numbers to talk to computers.

So:
  • "Dec" means "old way to count"
  • "Hex" means "new way to count" 
Using you Windows calculator, we can see how this works.  

 Enter "24" in the Calculator (in programmer mode on Windows 7 or scientific mode on Windows XP)


Select "Hex" and the new number is 18.


A more interesting case for me is 49.  Converting to Hex, we get "49 is the new 31".

On the other end, "16 is the new 10".  This can be confirmed by driving by your local high school.  The kid's look like they're 10 years old.  This new counting system is obviously more appealing to anyone in their mid 30's or older.  Try your age, but be prepared to see numbers like "1E" and "2A".  This is explained below.

(WARNING: math is involved after this point)

"Hex" is short for "Hexidecimal", which is a counting system based on the number 16.  This works for computers since using four digits of 1's and 0's gives you 16 digits, and the brilliant people who invented all this stuff decided 16 was easier for us humans.  Since there are only ten digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), we need 6 more numbers.  For these, A, B, C, D, E, and F are used.  See the table below for equivalent numbers from 0 to 16.

Decimal Hexidecimal Binary (1's and 0's)
000
111
2210
3311
44100
55101
66110
77111
881000
991001
10A1010
11B1011
12C1100
13D1101
14E1110
15F1111
161010000



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Time for Some Reverse Profiling

This post was inspired by my daughter's recent experience while flying to visit us with her 10 month old son.

We all want to be safe when we fly, and the TSA has implemented many measures to help us be safer.  While "profiling" would most likely further improve our safety, this approach is taboo.  The reason being that profiling is immediately equated with racial stereotyping.  For example, holding a person as suspicious due to them "looking like Islamic extremists" is wrong because it targets unfairly all of the innocent Muslims.

The more tolerable solution has been to treat everyone as a potential terrorist, making them strip and taking away their water bottles and sun screen.  Or, in my daughters case, baby formula.

The security officials informed my daughter that she could not bring baby formula since it exceeded the allowable amount of fluid.  She insisted that she needed food for her baby, so they said they could test it.  Somehow, it failed the test (I've heard of security detection equipment being designed to give false positives for some purpose I can't seem to recall).  Because of her failure to comply with procedures and due to the failed test, she had to submit to a "pat down".  The female security person courteously informed my daughter where she would be touching her and when it came to the area of her breasts, she said that she would use the backs of her hands (apparently to be less of a violation of decency).  Meanwhile, her infant son was crying, since he seemed to detect in his innocent state that what was happening was wrong.

I don't know in what kind of world a mother with her infant son would consider performing an act of terror.  I think it is about time we started "profiling" for people that no one in their right mind would consider a risk.  I call this "reverse profiling", since instead of trying to find dangerous people, we do the reverse and identify harmless people.  So I decided to create a list of people we don't need to partially strip, pat down or take away their fluids.  We don't need to rip crying babies from their mother's arms and no one needs to drop their pants revealing their collestomy bags.

My "reverse profiling":

  1. Mother's with young children
  2. Young children (anyone under 12 years old)
  3. Anyone over 70 years of age
  4. Handicapped (maybe we can give them an extra handicap placard to show to TSA)
  5. People with terminal illness (Cancer patients, etc.)
  6. Attractive women
  7. Congressman
This select group of people seem to be the subject of embarrassing news reports of unseemly TSA gropings (try searching YouTube for "TSA").  The "groping" will still continue, but surely the TSA's public relations will improve as "pat downs" of average citizens proves less than newsworthy.  Maybe if this approach works, we can expand my list to include "frequent flying businessmen" and "middle-aged white guys going on a cruise".

Update Aug 31, 2012

It's nice to see that the TSA has been reading my blog.  Here are some signs I saw posted at the security line recently.  That takes care of items 2 and 3 above (Not sure why they skipped my #1 issue, Mother's).





Saturday, April 7, 2012

Another Reason I Don't Drink

This guest basically ruined a wedding reception and then claimed "it was all booze's fault".

http://shine.yahoo.com/love-sex/worst-wedding-guest-ever-attacks-bride-slow-dances-172300595.html

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Don't be this guy

Paul Dearinger was recently convicted and is going to jail.  Imagine the conversation between and his fellow inmates.
"Frank, what did you do to get in here?" - "I stole a car"
"Steve, what did you do?" - "I robbed a liquor store"
"Mike, what did you do?" - "I stabbed a guy"
"Paul, what did you do?"  - "I beat a puppy to death"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Federal Regulation D

Today there was a message on my answering machine from my bank with an "urgent" message.  I was worried that it might be fraudulent charges so I immediately called.  I was informed that I was getting close to violating Regulation D of the Federal Reserve board.  That sounded pretty serious to me.

Then the bank representative told me what Regulation D was: it limits the number of online transfers you can make between your accounts to 6 times a month.  I had already made 5 transfers and the month is only half over (I would explain why but it is no more your business than it is the Federal governments business).

I can't imagine what could possibly be wrong with making more than 6 online transfers.  Nor can I imaging why the Federal Reserve board thinks it's any of their business.  It's my money and my relationship with my bank.

It seems I've heard talk of the need for more financial regulation out of Washington DC.  No Thanks!