Saturday, December 31, 2005

Yay, a step in the right direction

Nutrition labels must now show the amount of trans-fats in the food. This is great stuff, people will now be able to more closely watch what they are eating.

Most of the big food manufacturers have already switched away from trans fats (note: no increase in prices, no decrease in taste). Betcha didn't even notice that the Oreos you've been eating are now less bad for you. woo-hoo!

Finally, the general public will become aware of what pig farmers have known for years (they stopped feeding their pigs trans fats a long time ago because their pigs died).

Friday, December 30, 2005

Church Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

The latest ruling in the bankruptcy lawsuit came down, basically saying that all the parish property belongs to the Archdiocese.

Now, the whole issue is really disgusting - people in power, especially those of the church, abusing their power by abusing kids is horrible. And unfortunately, not amount of money will make things right.

I don't normally agree with going after those with money, but in this case it does appear that the Archdiocese did have a hand in concealing the problem from the public - which in my mind is actually worse than the original charge of child abuse. So, given that, I'm all for sticking it to the church for the whole thing.

Sadly, if the parishes' properties end up being liquidated, it's going to really hurt their communities. The people who belong to those churches will likely be disillusioned and the good services that the churches provide will be disrupted (if not completely discontinued). That's the potential downside to this ruling.

But in the end, I think it's the right course of action. The Church so completely controls all the parishes, it is only right that the Church lose the parishes. Perhaps this will be a wakeup call to the people attending the Church that still seems to be covering child abusers. Perhaps it's time to find a new church.

Just Stop It

I've gotten pretty accustomed to using my MS Windows laptop. But it occasionally pisses me off.

Right now it's the fact that when I want to kill a process, it just doesn't die. It takes like 5 minutes and freezes up the whole system.

In Unix, if I want to kill a process, I can do it. It happens instantly. No fuss, no muss.

Hot Fudge Sauce

Mmmm.... hot fudge sauce.

There's a recipe in my favorite cookbook I'd been wanting to try out. Hot fudge sauce.

Growing up, my favorite ice dish was the Hot Fudge Nutty Nutty at Farrell's (there used to be one in Portland). Why did I like the Hot Fudge Nutty Nutty? Because it had two (yes two) sides of hot fudge sauce. Wow.

You can always buy fudge sauce at the store, and the sauce at the co-op is top-notch. So far my cookbook has not led me wrong, so I put it to the test tonight.

I won't bore you with the recipe, let me just say that the fudge sauce was much tastier than the all-natural strawberry ice cream (which I normally groove on). Now I've got two batches of it stored in my freezer. Just stop by with some good ice cream and I'll show you how tasty the hot fudge sauce is.

Law Shows

I've watched a number of different law shows on TV and one thing is always bugging me.

The people hauled into jail almost never get a lawyer. "Close to Home" "NYPD Blue" "Law & Order (all 23 variations" etc. I just don't get it. Sure, some people are dumb and ignorant and don't know to get a lawyer. But come on, are the defendants always this clueless? People need to know they should get a lawyer as soon as they realize they're under investigation. So don't you forget it.

Oh, and I really dislike how the cops and prosecutors are often "bending" the rules or even breaking laws to go after people. There was one where the lady prosecutor completely ignored the defendant's right to an attorney to get some information. And while the show gave a small nod to the fact she was breaking the law, the whole scenario was set up as justified because a woman's life was saved (as though they couldn't have done both at the same time). Miranda Rights are pretty much guaranteed by the constitution (indirectly, but interpreted from the Fifth Amendment).

It's this kind of mentality that's lead to this attitude.

Classic Bush

As this Yahoo news story says, the administration is looking into the person who told the world that the NSA was spying on U.S. citizens without any oversight.

Classic "shoot the messenger" mentality. They never admit doing any wrong and just try to find and destroy anyone who reveals anything negative about what they've done.

It's not ok for Clinton to lie about a personal matter (sex), but it's ok for Bush to lead us into war on false pretenses (making us less safe), it's ok for Bush to spy on U.S. citizens (what Constitution?), detain people indefinitely (it's just a piece of paper), torture (what Geneva conventions?), and behave very non-Christian (cuts to benefits programs, tax cuts for rich - i.e. help rich, screw poor).

And what is Congress doing for us? They're the ones we've elected to represent us. They're playing politics. Democrats are remaining useless because they don't know how to run a unified party, and Republicans are so busy toeing the political line that they are blind to the atrocities committed by our commander-in-chief.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Golden Slippers

Mary gave me a wonderful gift for Christmas, a hammered dulcimer. I was totally blown away by the gift. Over a year ago I rented a hammered dulcimer for several months and used the John McCutcheon Hammered Dulcimer Instruction Series CDs and book to learn how to play a couple of songs. After a couple of months I had to return the dulcimer - I wasn't playing as much as I should have, and it didn't make sense to continue renting.

Anyway, I've now got this beautiful musical instrument. I sat down yesterday and spent an hour getting re-acquainted with the dulcimer. I can now play the first version of Golden Slippers (one of the two songs I learned over a year ago). That's one thing that is nice about hammered dulcimers, they're relatively straight forward to learn. I'd put up a recording, but a couple of notes are pretty out of tune.

Anyone know how to tune an instrument with 62 strings?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

War On Christmas

Happy Holidays everyone!

That's my little mini-war on Christmas.

I don't get the whole uproar. It's not as though those big companies are turning their backs on Christmas (just look at all the stuff they're selling), and "Happy Holidays" is just a little more generic, more inclusive. Isn't that what Christ was all about? Bringing religion to those shunned by the popular religion (Judaism)? How hypocritical.

Oh, and there was one thought I had recently that's related to the whole fundamental religious movement. Teaching abstinence as the only method of "safe sex" doesn't work for many reasons. Ironically, Christians believing in the Virgin Mary also know that abstinence doesn't work either. :)

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Well, looks like we've failed yet again. The Iraqi election appears to have resulted in a fundamentalist Shiite dominated Iraq. I don't think this was the "freedom" that we were promised by our leaders when we entered Iraq. Oh, right, we weren't promised to give Iraq freedom, but to rid it of WMDs. Good thing the Iraqi constitution guarantees freedom of religion ... oh, wait, it says that clerics can be in the courts.

But that's ok, it's not as though our own Constitution has been violated. Ah, but it has.

I do like Benjamin Franklin's quote on the subject of freedoms, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Scott Adams on Intelligence

Leave it to a comic strip writer to have deep insight into intelligence and God.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

For What It's Worth

I've put the contents of this blog under the Creative Commons license. Not that people have been scrambling to use my writings elsewhere. I could have chosen the GPL, but ... I don't know that I care about imposing that set of restrictions/freedoms on my blog contents.

If you don't know what those are, don't worry, you really only need to know if you were planning on using my text somewhere else.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Embarrassing display at work

I came across a display in the conference center at work last week. The goal of the display is to show the history of the area, and ultimately how great it is to have Intel in the "Sillicon Forest."

There happens to be a quote in the display that I found disgusting. This is what I wrote in my weekly status report. Only one person responded.

"[Native American] numbers were greatly reduced by the disease and aggressive expansion visited on them by European newcomers."

This is a quote from a prominent display in the JF Conference Center. The display provides a brief history of the area (Washington county in Oregon).

I'm a bit ashamed that we (Intel) would put up something describing the history of Native Americans and so drastically minimize their loss of land, culture, and lives.

First of all, the sentence is in the passive tone. Basic writing 101 tells you not to use this, so it must have been used purposefully.

Second, there is no hint of intentionality in the sentence. The European newcomers knew exactly what they were doing when they did it.

The "disease and aggressive expansion" is further removed from the "European newcomers" by the phrase "visited on them". And, this phrase has a transient sound to it (visited - not permanent).

It would have been better had the display not mentioned the decline in Native American population at all. At least then we wouldn't be propagating the idea that the Native Americans either died off of natural diseases or were crowded out.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Couple of random links

Here are a few links I found interesting/aggravating this week.

The first is a humorous look at ID, and it is titled Designing Women. And Men. Made me laugh. Why? Because it's true.

The next piece of news really pissed me off. The national park service is considering a plan to allow corporate sponsorship of national parks. Please read this summary and sign the petition against the proposal. Can you imagine it? "Alaska arctic refuge, brought to you by Exxon, Mobil, and BP!" Or a big "Anaconda" sticker on El Capitan (Anaconda is (was?) a huge strip mining company).

The last link is an interesting twist on environmental activism that sounds like a good idea once you think about it. It is titled, How Prius drivers are gross polluters and other lessons of carbon credits.