Results tagged “Random Thoughts” from Bill's Words

I shut off Facebook and Twitter for the foreseeable future. It didn’t take long after the elections for most of the political rhetoric on Facebook an Twitter to settle down, but the Office Christmas Party Protocol continues to face formidable opposition from the most stalwart supporters of one party or another.

Given that I have been in a funk about the changing nature of this country and its citizens recently, I decided I’d had enough. Certainly, I’d broken the OCPP, too, adding to the noise. And that’s what it was: purposeless noise. Even the non-political content is as Dennis Miller described Twitter posts: “annotated burps.” I couldn’t say it any better.

The silence has been wonderful.

Ω 20%


My default tip is 20%. First, the math is easy—multiplying by two and dividing by ten are pretty easy. Second, I’m not looking for superb service to earn the 20%. Instead, I’m looking for friendly and competent. Do that, and you get 20%. Any less, and I’ll let you know it with a 10% tip. Still enough to pay you for the work, but not reward you for the service. Third… did I mention the math is easy?

Representing weather data as an image is only part of the magic behind the scenes:

The reason we encode velocity data as an image is so we can pass it off to the GPU on the iPhone and iPad. Both the storm prediction and the smooth animations are calculated on the device itself, rather than the server, and all the magic happens directly on the GPU.

Read the rest of the article here.

via SplatF

How come when I read something like this:

“AT&T will offer FaceTime over Cellular as an added benefit of our new Mobile Share data plans, which were created to meet customers’ growing data needs at a great value,” the company said on Friday afternoon. [source]

…I somehow read “consumer… value” as “We’re going to continue to milk our customers like our very own herd of moneycows”?

"Void where prohibited."


Does anybody else get the giggles when you read this phrase and imagine the consequences?

I know I do…

How many times have you been to the office Christmas party and been pleasantly engaged in conversation about the family, the holiday, and so forth, only to have the other person suddenly and loudly yell, “SCOTT WALKER SUCKS DONKEY SWEAT!” to which you reply “YEAH? WELL BARACK OBAMA IS A HONEY BADGER!”??

What, that hasn’t happened to you?

Funny thing, it hasn’t happened to me, either. Maybe our office parties are more tame than most, but I’d bet that these incidents are rare and usually occur only between two people who just don’t quite “get” decorum.

And yet that’s what happens on on an alarmingly frequent basis on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. For some reason, that’s an acceptable use of these sites. We accept that your Facebook newsfeed, chock full of pleasantries surrounding your neighbors, friends, acquaintances, co-workers and so forth, may be suddenly interrupted by the most vile or insulting or controversial posting, something you’d never say at the office Christmas party. People who wouldn’t even think about approaching these topics face-to-face suddenly find their voice in front of their 400 closest friends.

I’ve done it before, but I’m done with that. It’s annoying to me, and it was probably annoying to you, too.

So I propose a new protocol called the Office Christmas Party Protocol (or the Office Holiday Party Protocol if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing). It is simply this:

If you wouldn’t say it to your boss at the Office Christmas Party, don’t say it on Facebook or Twitter.

Use this as a guide in your posting.

If you still must air these thoughts, please do so on a blog where people will seek to read your thoughts on these matters. You can set up a free blog at

For myself, I’m going to go one step further. If you’re a frequent OCPP offender, I’m going to hide your posts because, quite frankly, I don’t need more controversy in my life; the mainstream media of all flavors takes care of that already. I don’t need more of your liberal/libertarian/conservative bull(crap) in my newsfeed.

So I’m going to institute a three-strikes policy. You won’t know it, of course, but after three posts which break the OCPP, I’ll hide your posts. I won’t unfriend you, because that breaks all ties, which I’m unwilling to do.

I still know you, after all, and I’d like to still be friends… civil friends, that is, who wouldn’t insult each others’ ideologies face to face and shouldn’t do it in a virtual world, either.

On a somewhat-related note, if you start a blog whose focus is one topic but veer off into OCPP-voilating territory, I’ll stop reading your blog and I’ll be vocal about it. And you won’t care, I’m sure—but I’ll be all the happier for it.

Strike one.

On the SGK/PP Split


First, take a deep breath, then promise to stick with me to the end.

I am disappointed in the outrage which has been expressed by the Internet community at large on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure (SGK, for short) decision to withdraw its support for Planned Parenthood (PP). The outrage seems to be based on a misunderstanding of the facts. The only praise for the decision arises from conservatives who view it as a blow to abortion. But both sides of the debate are missing what could be (could be) a benefit to women’s health, the very cause at the center of the argument.

Two days ago, SGK followed its own relatively new policy of withdrawing funding for organizations which are under congressional investigation, which PP is. The policy, in and of itself, makes sense. There’s no reason why a private, non-profit organization can’t decide to withdraw funding from something which has been accused—rightly or wrongly—of misconduct. SGK has decided its in its best interests to withdraw support of organizations which might stink.

So, does PP stink? It doesn’t matter. SGK is following its own policies, as it should.

Was it politically motivated? SGK says “No.” Before you go dragging out words like “failed gubernatorial campaign,” remember that SGK supports cancer research, not the abortion and reproductive health businesses. So whether it’s politically motivated or not, it’s certainly in their right to drop funding for an organization which spent SGK’s money on services other than early cancer detection.

Is this a change in SGK’s core values? No. SGK’s mission statement reads as follows:

Promise: The Susan G. Komen for the Cure promise: to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality of care for all and energizing science to find the cures.

You’ll note that it does not say:

Promise: The Susan G. Komen for the Cure promise: to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality of care for all and energizing science to find the cures by funding Planned Parenthood.

So you can—and should—continue to support SGK if you wish to fund the continued fight against breast cancer.

And you should drop the outrage. Because I think there’s a potential benefit which is being overlooked—if SGK lives up to its promise of “ensuring quality of care for all,” that is.

PP has already said that the SGK funds are already well on their way towards being replaced—$400K or the $648K in less than 24 hours isn’t a bad fundraising record. They have also said that the services funded by that $648K will still be available, regardless.

So far, the PP patient population is covered. If SGK “ensur[es] quality of care for all,” then there’s a potential benefit—an upside!

If SGK lives up to its promise, it will put that $648K towards cancer prevention. That’s what you should be talking to SGK about. Not about defunding PP. Not about abortion. Not about political motivations. What you should be voicing is what to do with the money instead, insisting that it go where it should go: to the ground, where feet meet the street.

In the best-case scenario, SGK would arrange for vouchers for breast cancer screenings equivalent to what PP is providing to be distributed to clinics in the cities where the defunded PP offices are—preferably at clinics very near the PP offices. Put all $648K to work here. Since PP is already covering the people who would go to PP for help, that’s an awful lot of additional women who have access to care—and may be another segment of the population which would go to a clinic but wouldn’t set foot in a PP office.

In the “worst case,” SGK will dedicate the money to research or similar (not a bad thing, but not in keeping with the original mission of that $648K). In the worst case, nobody loses. In the best case, more women have access to breast cancer screenings.

Furthermore, if we assume that it was only some percentage of the SGK donation to PP which was going to breast cancer screenings in the first place, then SGK is actually focusing more on its core values. More of its money will be going towards breast cancer research or early detection and not to other PP services. (Again, the other PP services are not part of SGK’s core mission.) In the end, it’s a better use of SGK money, which you probably helped raise and wanted to see go towards fighting breast cancer in the first place.

So… if not now, then when should you be outraged?

— When SGK doesn’t restore funding to PP if/when PP is ever found not guilty of misconduct, provided SGK wants to use its funds in that manner.

— When SGK doesn’t put the funds into the hands of the people who need it most by funding screenings directly.

Then I’d expect to see this kind of outrage again.

But, until then, cool your jets. Please.

A year ago, I asked my dad the following:

You remember December 7, 1941, right? It’s your generation’s 9/11.

When were people able or allowed to “be happy” on Dec. 7? How many years? Was it the end of WWII? Or something else?

What I meant, of course, is not “Can we celebrate 9/11 and be happy about it?” but rather, “Do we really have to be so gloomy on this day? Can someone celebrate their birthday if it happens to be 9/11?”

And I was genuinely interested in what happened over the years after Pearl Harbor, how the nation’s psyche dealt with the tragedy of his day. I thought it might shed some light on how our nation’s psyche should or could deal with the tragedy of this day. I felt then, and still do now, that for some reason we are being led to be unhappy on this day, especially this particular year.

I wondered why.

Here’s his response, more appropriate now than ever:

Hmmmm. You have made me think. So the first thing I thunk of was I had better go down the hall for a cup of coffee. Now I have it and I still have to think a bit.

I was nine years old when Pearl Harbor happened and, I suppose, in the fourth grade. So what was happening around me didn’t register like 9/11 would have for you. It did register, but in the same way as major events register for many people: they can remember where they were and what they were doing at the time the learned of the event. I have several such recollections, although on some I don’t have the date exact: Pearl Harbor, FDR’s death (playing in the back yard, April 1945—the 18th maybe), Japan’s surrender (Camp Allen mess hall, August 1945—12th), Kennedy’s assassination (teaching a programming course for honors freshman engineering students at Purdue, date foggy), 9/11 (right here).

As a nine-year-old, I was not aware of the storm of war in Europe or in Asia. Hitler’s invasion of Poland would not have registered on a then seven-year-old. So Pearl Harbor was obviously in my mind a big event but I did not see a big picture. FDR’s and the Congress’ declaration of war was also big, but again, I would have had no big picture.

Another facet of this is how we got news. There was no TV. We got news from the newspaper and the radio. Many folks got their news in one or two half-hour doses from the radio, one at noon and one around supper time. And not on the weekends, of course. So we were not continually bombarded with what today passes for “news.” We got the big picture. A battle raging here, a ship sunk there, a victory over the Axis somewhere, and so on.

News did become local at times when a “local boy” was killed in the war. But even that was not in my life much more than a story in the local Daily Peoples Press.

Are you thinking, Is he ever going to get to an answer? OK, right here! We were not led to be unhappy. Pearl Harbor Day, “a day that shall live in infamy,” was certainly noted each year. But during the Second World War we had other things to think about. That day in 1942 would have had little positive news. By that day in 1943, things were looking better, we might beat those Axis guys. By 1944, we had landed in Europe and were moving ahead (the Battle of the Bulge was bad news yet to come). We were moving in on Japan, island by island. Of course, by 1945, the war was over.

I do not remember gloom associated with Pearl Harbor Day. It was marked as a memorial both to the act and to the beginning of the U.S. entry into the war and all that that meant. Pearl Harbor the place became the physical memorial.

I am aware of the date each year and which anniversary it is. What often comes to mind during that brief awareness is a picture, a mental picture, not a real one. I am lying on the living room floor at 2-something East Mill Street, Owatonna, reading the Sunday funnies in color. I am still dressed for church and dinner (maybe in knickers and long stockings), which are over. The rug is a dark pattern. I see myself with my chin resting on my hands, my elbows on the floor, my legs bent at the knees to put my feet in the air. Now why that picture, I sure don’t know! But I know I read that way sometimes.

So the simple answer to your question is that to be “happy” was not a decision to be concerned with. We noted the day and went about our business or school or play and we didn’t get reminded from every direction what happened that day with graphic pictures replayed countless times accompanied by breathless commentary.

Oh, and note that 9/11 has no meaning at all to any of our grandchildren.

Gee, that was fun and I still have about half my coffee left!

Love, Dad

Now, a year after he replied, I know exactly what’s in store for Sunday, September 11th, 2011. It’s going to be a day filled with remembrance, certainly. But as he so aptly pointed out to me, we both think we will be led to be unhappy, though he came to that conclusion a year ago. It will be a day filled with “breathless commentary” and “graphic pictures replayed countless times.” And I don’t think that’s the way it should be.

I don’t need a crystal ball to know what will happen as I sit here writing this two days prior to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the tenth anniversary of another day which will very much live in infamy. No, I have the TV. It’s being hyped regularly as a full day of programming—such an apropos word, don’t you think? And that’s probably what makes me sad more than anything else. Instead of getting a well-deserved breath of relief, a catharsis, we’re going to relive that day, minute-by-minute, over and over.

Being bombarded by “what today passes for news” is not how progress is made. This is not how we heal. Sometimes the doctor orders quiet, respite, and rest. We won’t get that this year.

I learned from my Dad in his E-mail that much of the way they healed from Pearl Harbor was by celebrating the victories that followed. So, too, could we be celebrating the demise of various bad guys who orchestrated the events of a decade ago. It should be OK to celebrate the successes our country has had on the battlefield. We went to war, and we accomplished many of the goals we set out to accomplish. We could mark these events as turning points, times at which we could say, That’s done now. Times when we could recognize that we can move forward.

Instead, these accomplishments will be minimized in the nation’s dialog two days from now. We’re being instructed to be accepting of the bad guys’ anger and to try to understand their viewpoint and to recognize that blah blah blah. Maybe that’s a good idea, but some other day, perhaps? This day isn’t about them. It’s about us. Or, U.S., really. How can we move forward if the very events which might provide some traction are the very events which are being pushed aside?

We also move forward by sharing tears with and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with those who lost co-workers, friends, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, children, parents…. Instead, we will memorialize the events of September 11, 2001, with the aggrandizement of politicians, some of whose political lives hadn’t even started a decade ago. These are not the people the public wants to commiserate with. These are not the people whose grief should be shared. These are not the people we want to reach out and hug. So instead of sharing grief with the people who may desperately need to share, we and they are not being given a much-needed opportunity to move forward, to heal.

For many, this day and all which have yet to come will be days filled with tragedy and sadness—there’s no getting past that fact. Those who lost someone close to them or were injured as a result of the events of 9/11 or as a result of the ensuing wars will never be the same. It is for their sake and the sake of the rest of the country that I hope and pray that we will learn from this year as an example of how not to mark the anniversary of a tragedy.

We should learn so that we can heal.

So what I can’t figure is, why is OPEC still in business?

The original head for this entry involved a bit of strong language. But then I realized that instead of turning people off with repulsive language, I’d try to emphasize a point: A little bit of bad information goes a long way, and if you compare apples to oranges, you can draw any conclusions you like… and you’ll still be wrong.

This entry on the Wonk Room blog, whose title I’ve used above, is a perfectly good example. When I saw that it had made it to my What’s Hot in Google Reader feed, it became apparent that a lot of people saw the entry and thought it was worth a read, and most likely believed it, too.

The premise of the entry is that General Electric, a multi-national and, to the casual observer, a very profitable company, paid $0 in income taxes in 2010, but that undocumented immigrants paid $11.2 billion in taxes. That’s exactly… infinity times more taxes than GE paid, right? And that is really, really bad, at least as the Wonk Room entry’s author would have you believe.

Except that the headline is misleading, and on top of that, the headline is based on factually-incorrect information. The apples-to-oranges comparison involves some rotten fruit, too.

You see, the initial report that GE owes nothing in US income taxes isn’t correct, unless you use some creative definitions of “taxes” and “correct.” It is, in fact, a terribly misleading article which was the culmination of many months of good research which were—essentially—incorrectly and sensationally reported.

I’m not making this up. From this piece at

Unfortunately, for all its good work, the Times story has created at least one major misperception—that GE paid no U.S. income taxes last year and is actually getting a $3.2 billion refund from the Treasury.

It’s a great piece, and you should read it if you care about the issue (whether a “big profitable company” could avoid taxes through slight of hand), but the CNN piece has a few good summary points I’ll include here, at your expense of complete understanding:

Now, we’ll give you brief answers to the main questions, but you’ll have to bear with us afterward for the full explanation.

(Again, worth the read.)

Did GE get a $3.2 billion tax refund? No.

Did GE pay U.S. income taxes in 2010? Yes, it paid estimated taxes for 2010, and also made payments for previous years. Think of it as your having paid withholding taxes on your salary in 2010, and sending the IRS a check on April 15, 2010, covering your balance owed for 2009.

Will GE ultimately pay U.S. income taxes for 2010? After much to-ing and fro-ing—the company says it hasn’t completed its 2010 tax return—GE now says that it will pay tax.

Short story: the Times piece was over-the-top sensationalistic, and misrepresented the facts. For those of you who think the tax codes need to be changed to make GE pay the taxes it supposedly didn’t pay, don’t bother: GE will pay income taxes, and the tax codes don’t need to get any more complicated than they already are.

So what we have in the Wonk Room entry is a headline which is already half wrong, and the author is using it as the orange, so to speak. And it’s rotten.

Now, let’s see what the Wonk Room entry is using as the apple, shall we?

If you read the “apple” side of the comparison, you discover that the taxes the author is listing are things that every single citizen, both documented and undocumented, visitor, tourist, or resident alike, of the United States pays. And, guess what? Every company in the United States pays them, too.

The two everybody-pays-them taxes listed in the source of the data are sales tax and property tax. These two taxes are the primary reason why towns, cities and states love to have businesses—because they pay them, too.

And the last tax listed? The “income tax contributions by the unauthorized population,” whatever those taxes are. How can an “unauthorized population” pay income tax in the first place? Wouldn’t they have to be documented, and theoretically authorized in some way, in order to do so? OK, OK, I’m guessing a little bit because I don’t know the tax process well enough to know if someone who is an “unauthorized population” can file income taxes. But I’m willing to overlook that little piece of “data” since it’s a guess anyway, and it accounts for only 10% of the total estimate used as the “apple” for this widely-circulated piece of misinformation.

The apple is sales and property taxes, and the orange is incorrectly-reported income taxes. Like I said, compare the two and you can conclude anything you like. And, as before, this author is wrong.

So… why? Who wrote this piece? Why make such a false comparison? Well, the author is Mike Elk, “a freelance labor journalist and third generation union organizer based in Washington, D.C.” If you Google the guy you discover that he’s been grinding an axe against GE for quite some time, as one who is a union organizer rightfully should. But unbiased “journalist?” I think not.

Could I do better? Yes, but this headline:

GE Paid $3.7 Billion in Income, Sales, and Property Taxes (and That’s Quite a Bit), and Undocumented Immigrants Paid an Estimated $10 Billion in Taxes (and That’s Quite a Bit, Too)

isn’t quite as sensational, hype-worthy, or anti-corporate America as Mr. Elk’s, now, is it? Leave it to the internet to hype the worthless.

Please, people, think before you read and blindly accept what you find on the internet as fact. At least Google it first, for Pete’s sake!

Or, if that’s too much work for you, I have a friend in Nigeria who could use your help. Contact me ASAP.

ALa makes a pretty good argument that the left continues to let Birthgate go on because it suits their needs. Yeah, I wish he’d just show the certificate so we can get on with it.

But then I got to thinking, who’s in charge of checking? I mean, we have to produce every form of identification to get into school, and there’s a person who’s in charge of checking it. Passport? Birth certificate. Want a driver’s license? Produce a birth certificate. Run for President? Sign right up!

Seriously: Who’s in charge of checking this kind of thing out? The rules in the Constitution are pretty specific:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

But it doesn’t lay down the rules for the Office of The Guy Who Checks to See if The Presidential Candidate Meets These Criteria. So whose job is that?

Just wonderin’, ‘cause I’m curious.

I have never agreed with FSJ’s politics, but this is worthy of your time. He gets it.

There are too many good lines to quote just one, so trust me on this one.

Click, read, ponder, and share. You’ll be glad you did.

Why Does This Bother Me So Much?


I wrote an open note to John Gruber of taking him to task for being so quick to jump on the liberal bandwagon and to blame Saturday’s shooting on the rhetoric from Sarah Palin and others. As a rational human, I should have let it go then. But it still bothers me now.


So I’ve given this a fair amount of thought. I had a note from a reader who said that he is right, that certainly inflammatory rhetoric such as Palins’ and Kelly’s should be mentioned in the context of this shooting.

But why should it be? Because the killer heard it? Because the killer believed it? Because the killer… because the killer what? What is it, exactly, that the killer took away from Palin’s and Kelly’s messages?

Or did he even hear these messages?

I have no idea what the shooter heard—real or imagined. I have no idea what his motivations were.

But John Gruber implied that he knows what the shooter heard. He, as many others have as well, implies that the shooter heard Palin’s and Kelly’s speeches and took them to be orders to shoot to kill. He jumped on the liberal bandwagon just as fast as he could.

That bothers me… some.

See, John Gruber is a superb technical analyst. He has a head for all things Apple and, I daresay, a fair amount of the tech industry as well. His prescience is uncannily accurate when he is dealing with topics he’s grown up with. He reasons through things. He argues things openly so we, his readers, can understand how he reaches his conclusions.

Here, though, he’s gotten caught up in the emotional, in the hype, and, in my opinion, has reached a conclusion before any of the facts are known. While it may be only a matter of time before the killer’s lawyers stand up in a courtroom and finger rhetoric as the cause of the shooter’s actions, that hasn’t happened yet. John knows it, and so do I.

Is it possible that the shooter heard Sarah Palin’s speeches and divined it necessary to shoot Representative Giffords? Yes. Is it possible that he heard voices in his head that told him to do so? Yes. Is it possible that his next-door neighbor, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, mentioned in an off-handed, light sort of way that he’d like to see Representative Giffords dead for all the mess she’s made of… whatever? Yes. Is it possible that he is an anti-Semite and found a convenient target in Representative Giffords? Yes. Is it possible that…?

These are all possibilities, and the possibilities are endless and completely unknown at this point. Unlike his other writing, though, which is careful and well-thought-out, John Gruber discounts all other possibilities in favor of the one that is the most divisive and suits his liberal agenda the best.

So… what?

Well, as a commenter to my original post said, it’s his blog and he can do with it what he wishes. But for me, that’s a problem. That he can get so carried away with conclusions which defy logic makes me want to question his judgement on the subjects where he most certainly has become an expert, even though I know they are totally unrelated.

And that’s what bothers me so much. I want to write him off totally as a liberal, left-leaning looney, just like everybody has written off the Sarah Palins and Ann Coulters of the world because of their beliefs and opinions. But I can’t do it! I can’t simply write him off because of one of his beliefs, because of one of his views, because of one of his opinions.

Therein lies the bother. I want to take the irrational approach, too, but I just can’t seem to hitch my wagon to that train.

Instead, I offer up my apologies to John.


I apologize for that note of the other day. It is, after all, your blog, and you can do with it what you want to. Keep up the good work, but don’t go off the deep end too often. I look forward to reading what you have to say on all subjects and, though I will disagree with you vehemently on your political views, I will most certainly be all the better for understanding your viewpoints.


And now I can let that one go.

OK, so Clinton didn’t quite gut the American intel budget. And maybe it was Bush the First’s fault. I don’t particularly care. In any case, I’m guessing that what America needs now, more than ever, is better intelligence, both foreign and domestic. After all, it’s a lot easier to cure a cancer with early detection than after it’s grown to unmanageable size.

So let’s cut the “guns budget” and put the money where it needs to be: in intelligence. People on the ground. Recruits in foreign service. All that stuff. You know, Bond, just without the flashy car, the showy women, the drinking, etc. Heck, let’s get the Russians on our side—our enemy is their enemy, too. Think about how effective that partnership would be.

(Anybody know who the American equivalent to the James Bond character is? Has there ever been an equally famous fictional CIA character?)

A "Veteran" on Veteran's Day

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Note the use of double quotes in the title. Indeed, I served in the armed forces. Indeed, I supposedly “wrote a blank check” to my country. Indeed, I qualify for VA benefits, property tax reductions (minimal, but still more than zero), and could even get a Veteran plate for my car.

But I always felt like a poser. Not a real Veteran, capital “V,” but more like a “former employee.”

You see, I went into the US Air Force having completed my four years of college on a full-ride scholarship. “Full-ride” is recruiter lingo for, “We pay damned-near everything for your education.” All my family had to pay was for room and board, a minuscule amount of money for the education I got from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. And all I owed the USAF was four years of well-paid, well-benefited employment.

Yeah, I recognized that I was to serve in the military where they use guns and stuff to kill people, but I also knew that serving in the USAF with an engineering degree was unlikely to get me into a position where Uncle Sam would have to cash that check. As it was, I was right. I shot a gun on only two occasions, and only at targets, and missed qualifying marksman by one lousy point. Could I have repeated that in the heat of battle? Unlikely. Could I have been sent to “the front lines” to work on something electrical? Absolutely. Might I have been a crewmember on some plane that flew over the front lines? Coulda’.

But I didn’t.

No, I flew my Mark 1A1 Steelcase Modular Office Furniture System pretty much nowhere. I got a ride on a B-52H. I got to see more than a handful of Air Force bases and contractor locations. I programmed. I scheduled. I “supported the warfighter,” as the performance reports say. It was important work, certainly, but…

…but I sure don’t feel like a Veteran, capital “V,” as a result.

Instead, I recognize that there are those who wrote that check and gave it to Uncle Sam and said, “Here. No strings attached.” I realize that there are those who do this day in, day out. I know that there are those who face bullets and bombs and do so because they volunteered to serve their country. I know of those who have had that check cashed for part of what’s in the account… or all of what’s in the account. I know of the families who endure the hardships, suffer the losses, and shed the tears.

That wasn’t me.

No, those are the true Veterans, with the much-deserved capital “V.” It is your day today, and it is I, a veteran, who salute you.



God speed, and thank you.

This article tells how Americans are a bit peeved that Obama took a vacation to Maine instead of sticking around to run the government into the ground manage the BP oil crisis.

I don’t like Obama. Never have, never will. But I think what I like even less is the stupid American public whose perceptions are apparently that (1) their leaders are “supers,” (2) their leaders don’t deserve a break, too, and (3) their leaders can’t lead effectively from somewhere else.

Look, Stupid American Public (you know who you are):

(1) Obama isn’t water resistant to 5,000 feet. He can’t go down there and fix the leak himself. The best he can do is talk about it, and the likes of CNN and Fox are doing enough of that already. His noise would just get lost in the “news.”

(2) He deserves a break—from what, I don’t know exactly, but even I get vacation from my relatively calm job. And did you ever wonder what a Presidential vacation is like? Do you think the job ever really stops? If Obama had to schedule his vacations around every crisis, he’d never be able to take a vacation in the first place and he’d be stuck paying all kinds of cancellation fees. (I wonder if he got a discount with the USAF for a Saturday night stay?)

(3) If you think that Obama has to be in the White House to govern effectively, then you are living in the middle ages when the castle was the seat of the king’s power. This man is more connected than any other person on the Earth, this I guarantee. He can launch a nuclear first strike from Kennebunkport, from Kalamazoo, from Kankakee, or from kilometers in the air. He can get E-mail, text messages, and top secret FLASH messages wherever he is. He can call a press conference anywhere he is because the doggon’ press travels with him. And since he—one man with one body—is one entire branch of the government unto himself, he doesn’t even require a quorum or majority to be present to get action.

Good grief, people. It almost sounds like you’re expecting him to do anything different than any other President in any other administration.

I can’t believe I’m saying this: Get real and give him a break.

While the Internet has, by and large, replaced the Yellow Pages, it has not replaced the White Pages.

I find it very handy to be able to find somebody’s phone number based on knowing about where they live (i.e., the town), and a vague idea of how their name is spelled. And because wildcards can only go so far, having a compact, readily-accessed list to scan works significantly better than trying to figure out what to tell the search to get an equivalent list.

Until somebody has a phonebook app or website that can deal with phonetic spellings, the dead-tree phonebook wins hands down, every time.

Others have many thoughts regarding the installation of Adobe Flash Player on Mac OS X. Others have opinions on why Flash is an anathema to the web. I have an opinion on the webpage for it, which brings to mind the image of a barge. Maybe the SS Adobarge.

Hmm. There’s an interesting image for you, a company as a barge. But why a barge? Well, first of all, it’s slow and plodding to make progress. If it weren’t for a tug, it would drift aimlessly with the current. Granted, it can carry a lot along with it. I got this feeling this morning when I downloaded the Flash Installer for Mac OS X from the Adobe website and it told me it would take 7 minutes “@ 56K modem.” Huh?

Sorry, did you say, 56k modem? First, why a 56K modem? Why not, say, “donkey cart” or “FedEx” or “carrier pigeon” or “smoke signals?” Oh, I get it… it’s the “lowest common denominator” for download time estimates. Because everybody thinks about their download speed in terms of “times faster than a 56K modem,” don’t they?

Second, unless you’re actually using a 56K modem, you probably don’t give a rat’s ass about the download time at 56K, so why bother telling us in the first place? All modern browsers will tell you pretty well how long it will take to download the file if you simply start the process. If you see “29 minutes remaining” and you only have a few moments before your parents send you off to bed, you’re probably going to stop the download process and cover your tracks before going to bed and your parents see you’re downloading a porn video.

Really, you don’t care how long somebody else’s download is going to take; you only care how long your download is going to take.

“We do it for the non-broadband users.” Even if you are still dialing up, if you want Flash, you’re going to download it, no matter if Adobe tells you it will take 45 minutes or 45 seconds “@56K modem”. Besides, you’re going to be able to look at your browser and tell that it’s going to take “about 5 minutes” when you start it.

Sigh. As I said, slow to move forward.

And talk about momentum! There’s no change coming anytime soon, nosiree! Not when yesterday’s webpages would do: when you click the download button, you’re redirected to the “Thank you” page where you are told “If a dialog box appears with the option to run or save, click run.”

That never happens on a Mac OS X machine in Safari. Never has, never will. I’m not so sure about Chrome or Firefox or Opera, but I’d guess they don’t do it either since this is distinctly a Windows Internet Explorer behavior. Now, there’s nothing really wrong with this, exactly, but it’s just untidy. It’s like seeing bra straps showing on the red carpet. Untidy, and easily solved with a little bit of change.

Get with the times, Adobe. As much as you may think Flash is the greatest thing ever, its time has passed. Redirect your energies to making a great HTML5 content creation tool and sell it just as you have the Flash toolset. Well, not exactly. You could do a better job of that, too, but I’m just covering old territory on that.

I like these guys. It seem that what I’ve read so far is “Just the facts, ma’am.” Check them out for yourselves.

[via, if you can believe it]