Saturday, December 31, 2011

No Absolutes?

Ask someone if they are absolutely sure of it the next time they assert that no absolutes exists.  That statement is self-contradictory.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


One underlying human trait is that we usually project our own thoughts onto others.  We expect others to be trustworthy if we are trustworthy.  We expect others to cheat us if we tend to cheat others.  It is interesting how many human relations are colored with this.

Friday, December 16, 2011

How Much Can Discrimination Explain?

I always enjoy Walter Williams. I find his ideas to be very cognizant and well thought out.

How Much Can Discrimination Explain?

It is worth the time to listen to this, especially if you believe that the modern idea that the outcomes imply discrimination if they differ from the population distribution.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Make Sure Things Work the Way You Think

I have become very much of a contrarian as I have grown older. I have found much "common wisdom" to be far from accurate, especially in our modern society where the rules are drastically different than most of recorded history. It can be dangerous to comment on any specific ones of these, especially since so many take offense to those who don't agree with them today, in spite of the wide openness everyone is supposed to be following. I would encourage everyone to really look at things that you have taken for granted and make sure they really work as you think they do. Figure out which of your "core beliefs" are reliable and which are built on a faulty foundation. That will put you in a much better stead in life. This does not mean that everything is relative, but the our understanding of things is often off the mark, especially in certain situations. The absolute truths may still be there, but they may not be the exact things you thought they were. Keep that in the forefront of your mind!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Free from All Risk?

One of the areas where I do a lot of work is in information security. We learn there that a key underlying principle is that we can never completely remove risk, we can only reduce it to an acceptable level. This is a principle that needs to be spread throughout more of life. We live in a time when we try to completely eliminate any risk. Not only is this not possible, it costs a lot of money to find that out. We can never completely remove every harmful substance, no matter how hard we try. Don't give into the rhetoric that claims you can do so. Instead, turn the conversation toward the goal of finding the proper level of risk.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Not Dealing with Reality

I am not optimistic that it can change, but I am still very discouraged that our country (the United States) is not dealing with its overspending problems. No one should be surprised that the Debt Commission failed in its effort to find an acceptable compromise to fix our problems. I just read an editorial by my own Congressman and while he noted his disappointment that no deal was made, he credited Democrats with trying to do what they could. Balderdash. No one is trying to deal with this. The only one I have seen admit that we need massive spending cuts is Ron Paul and he faces a huge uphill climb, even if he somehow managed to win the presidential election. Too many people benefit from government's redistributing money. The problem is that no one has enough money to keep the game up, so it will crash in one way or another. I tend to agree with those who believe we will inflate our way out of this, which will make everyone who has savings much, much poorer, as their money is worth far less. Some say we just have to make "the rich pay their fair share," yet few can answer what that "fair share" is. We would still have a huge deficit even if we took 100% of the earnings of "the rich." How can people be so ignorant of that? Ultimately, the middle class will pay the price and may even end up not existing in the same way in a few years. We are in for quite a wild ride.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Why is "Her" OK, but "His" Isn't?

I notice a lot of hypocrisy in writing today. I regularly read blog posts and online articles that use "her" for the generic human pronoun, eschewing the more traditional "his" in attempt to not imply that all the targets of the topic are male. The root challenge is that English does not have a generic pronoun for this. "Its" might be accurate, but doesn't work well. "His" was the traditional word for centuries, but the modern politically correct movement has proclaimed that it is no longer acceptable. You would likely get outcries of complaints if you used "his" that you will not get if you use "her." How stupid can we be?

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Ponzi Scheme

Does anyone really think that Social Security is not a Ponzi Scheme? It relies on current contributions to make its payout. How is that any different? The only thing it has in its favor is that the government is a legal counterfeiter, unlike Ponzi and Madoff, the poster children of this same scheme. We simply don't have the money. How will we magically get it?

Problems with the Death Penalty

I just listened to a news story about someone in Georgia who has had significant doubts raised about his guilt. The only person speaking on camera in favor of carrying through the death penalty was the mother of the slain officer. She said that it should proceed and she wanted to ask those who questioned it how many of them had their sons shot. What difference does that make? Likely kill an innocent man because your son was shot? Are people really this stupid? I am in favor of the death penalty when it is properly applied, but I find that our modern legal system allows the rich to buy their way out of it and the poor to get railroaded. That is flawed. We must protect society, from cruel predators in society and inside prosecuting offices.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Wishing Scary People Were Far Away

A recent Economist article noted that a lot of the responses to the riots in England were merely "wishing scary people far away." What exactly is wrong with that? I certainly want scary people to be far from me!

It can be dangerous when this is merely a method to close our eyes to danger, but it is completely valid when legitimate things are done to protect ourselves. You must protect yourself, your family and your neighborhood first. Not doing so is far more immoral than anything else.

Hopefully people learn this before society completely falls apart.

Saturday, September 03, 2011


I grew up in Columbus, so I have a soft spot for Ohio State even though I went to another Big Ten school, Illinois for my degrees.

I don't watch a lot of football, but I happened to pick up their game today against Akron and some of the talk was on the penalties they faced for past actions.

I know that many, especially in the NCAA, want to pretend that college football is purely amateur, but they are total idiots. I have not delved deeply into the issues, but the things that happened seemed to be pretty minor compared to the penalties, and potential future penalties, that were put on the team. I would say the same whatever school it was, I just noticed it because it was Ohio State.

Have some consequences, but require flagrant violation of rules for such penalties, not the things most schools are certainly getting away with.

Controlling Our Lives

We live in an era of the freedom to do whatever you want, unless it is on the list of "incorrect" things that are OK to control. Eat some food that is not healthy for you? Hold some beliefs that others strongly oppose? You can be freely opposed in many cases.

This is the hypocrisy that gets to me. You are horrible if you are a certain way, but you are fine if you fit in their box. I never liked being stuffed in a box.

Are we really that different than the rest of history or do we just favor different things? People always want to control others. Stop it!

Everything is a Trade-Off

I am going to write a few blog posts on the trade-offs inherent in life. Some of these may touch on what we see as given rights and even discussing them ends up causing a bunch of people to get uptight unless you repeatedly stress what "should be."

What "should be" is completely irrelevant. I may think I "should be" able to walk off a tall building and float through the air, but we still know this is not possible.

Unfortunately, we do not know this for many of our choices in life. The best choice may still be to jump off that building and into a nearby lake to escape the building fire, but the jump will still impact us.

We want to "have it all" today and that never works. Everything comes at a price. There is no such thing as a free lunch. This is a message we need to drill in our heads: "No free lunches!" Everything comes at a price.

What prices are you paying today for your past choices and those of others?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Who is the Crazy One?

Many people believe:

- Life spontaneously organized itself. Experiments show life doesn't proceed from non-life, but they believe it happened anyway.

- This belief is sometimes based on an experiment where heavy human interaction (outside intelligence) was needed to get the "right" ingredients separated. Though the right ingredients may not all have really been right since the had both right- and left-handed ingredients, one being the building block of life and one being fatal to it.

- Little things change (cats changing to different cats) so big things must change (dogs changing to cats). No clear cut examples of this shift exist, but science channels can make up shows that show it with lots of "and then a miracle happened" steps in between.

- In a related manner, lots of time produces order out of randomness. This doesn't work anywhere in real life without external intelligence, but hey, the theory is true so it MUST happen.

- Sometimes "outside energy" (unorganized) is brought in to produce that order. So that's why my lawn dies off (or at least turns quite brown) in the heat of the summer. It is really organizing more with all that energy.

- Organization and brilliant design imply randomness. Except that is when such came in a signal from outer space. Then it would imply a really smart civilization.

- Those who find their views stupid are afraid of them. It couldn't be that they find their views completely ridiculous, could it?

- It is science because they say it is science. They don't have to perform falsifiable experiments like are required for all other areas of science. If something fails, make up a new explanation for how it is still true.

We have a modern high priest cast. They are called "scientists" and we are supposed to bow down at their proclamations. They can sometimes argue amongst themselves on the really weird things (string theory, multiple universes, etc.), but we have to believe their ultimate proclamations of how it happened because that is "science" and it is the way it is.

How is this any different than ancient civilizations when they believed some really odd things and insisted they were true because that is what their high priests said?

Lots of faith in all of them, even while claim not to have faith.

Those of you who stumble on this while investigating me may not agree with my views, but they are built on a whole lot more logic than I see exhibited in the "science" high priesthood.

More to come....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why is Crass so Funny?

I was listening to a podcast just now and they were cracking up about getting drunk and singing foul lyrics. I realize some people revel in such, but how is that a sign of anything but immaturity? Anyone can lose control of themselves and act obnoxious.

Only those able to control themselves can have quite a bit of fun without acting like juveniles.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If We Can Just Spend a Bit More....

While a few new members of Congress took a token stand, for a short time, we are back to "business as usual" with the bi-factional ruling party. When will we realize that we cannot spend more than we take in and we can never take in enough to ever meet all the pandering of numerous elected officials? They will promise unlimited benefits, but lack the ability to pay for those benefits.

We are destroying our children's future....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Teachers Cheat? Imagine That!

With all the pressure on our flawed educational system to get good results has led some teachers to cheat on student test scores.

Are we surprised?

I had a few really good teachers during my slave days in the government school system, but I also had quite a few who were barely making it. This is what will happen whenever the government takes over something. The mediocre rise to the top, since you cannot reward excellence and still have everyone do well and feel good.

The system encourages cheating, however much we may act in pretend shock when it happens.

Why is Spending Less Such a Radical Idea?

Why do so many, especially in the traditional media, fail to realize that we will ultimately have to spend less to balance our budget. Tax increases may fit an urge to "stick it to the rich," but they can only bring in so much money, if they work at all.

I have read that the overall tax take tends to stay the same, regardless of the tax rate. If true, that would mean all this talk about using higher taxes to balance thing is just fairy tale thinking, though that would be the norm for government.

Impartial News?

How can those involved over the long term with news still cling to the claim that they are in any way impartial?

I am currently listening to The Economist's report on the modern news field and it is amazing how they can slam Fox News for being "conservative" yet claim that others are unbiased. Give me a break. I don't appreciate all of Fox News, especially their drum banging for war, but they are far more "fair and balanced" than the more traditional news outlets, including the vaunted Economist.

All journalists have their biases which impact what they chose to report and how they report it. Facts left in or over amplified provide spin even while claiming neutrality.

Get real. Admin that who you are impacts what you do!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A Balanced Budget Ammendment Would be a Waste

I am completely in favor of the federal government starting to live within it means. No one, not even the government, can continue spending more than it takes in forever. We have become addicted to debt and it will cost us serious withdrawal pains when we ultimately have to go "cold turkey" in the whole area.

(I see no other way to quit this addiction.)

Many cry that we need a Balanced Budget Amendment to solve this problem. I completely oppose that because I fail to see how it would stop us attempting to spend much. These are the politicians who claimed we had a "Social Security Lockbox" with lots of funds to cover the payments that are now hitting. Only IOUs filled the box, not anything of value. Games would be used to pretend things were balanced while the debt piled up.

The question of who would enforce it makes it flawed as well. Congress has the power to pass budgets. Who will force them to do what they won't do on their own?

I would say we should push for those in office who will truly cut back the government, but I fear that is impossible now. Too many people are dependent upon a large and growing government. Everyone wants cuts, but not in programs that impact them.

I see this as a part of the flawed "just pass a law" theory that is so prevalent in modern society. We fail to realize that a law can only punish those it catches, it can't prevent the activity.

Get ready for some rough times as stuff hits the fan.

The Economist Magazine is Against Big Government?

I have subscribed to the audio version of the Economist for several years and find it gives me a good view of world news. They have their biases, but they are far less than the other traditional media.

One thing I do find ironic is that they regularly say that "this newspaper is opposed to large government." They may be in theory, but not in practice. I rarely hear them mention any program they really want to cut and they regularly bang the drums for higher taxes to balance out budgets.

I am listening to the end of June now (yeah, I am behind) and they are continually whacking the Republicans for opposing tax increases (which the Republicans have caved on) and say very little about the Democratic refusal to cut programs. It would be more honest if they would be complaining about the Democrats refusing to consider serious spending cuts as well, but that doesn't seem to fall within their vision of less government.

What exact small government do they want?

Software Patents are Stupid

Martin Fowler has an interesting article on software patents. He does note the common claim that patents in general enabled the Industrial Revolution, something I am not completely convinced of, but he makes the great point that they were a limited scope item back then. While 14 years is forever today, it was barely a blip with the very slow rate of change at the time.

I do think that people still would have invented things that would make their life and work simpler, with patent protection, though it may (or may not) have gone a bit differently than it did.

I especially like his note

The tragedy is that patents have become a source of reinforcing existing powers. A big company may find patents a significant inconvenience, but in the end patents are good for perpetuating the current power-holders because they can snuff out the smaller ones. This is why it's hard to change the system, those with the power have no incentive to give it up.

Whatever its origins, it is really a tool of big businesses and large organizations to squish the competition now, rather than to provide for a growing competitive marketplace.

The goal should be enabling innovation, not rewarding those with the legal resources to bash those who would compete with them.

Kill the software patent now!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Single Party State

Contrary to popular misunderstanding, the United States is currently ruled by a single party. Sure they put on the motions of being for different things, but they are really two wings of the same party. The latest cave in adding even more debt to future generation shows that.

Even those elected under the mandate of "no new debt" caved in and voted for more debt.

The problem is that the people don't want the hard choices and frugality that truly cutting back would cost. They want "the other guy" to take the fall. They don't realize they are the other guy and have had their pockets fleeced for years.

It is not really liberal vs. conservative, it is big government versus individual freedom. Few are in the second camp these days, however much they claim to be so. Notice how much they are both happy to tell you what you can do with your own body when it comes to cigarettes, for example?

They pretend to hold radically different positions, yet we creep to the point of more and more control over our lives each and every day. I wish we would truly wake up, but too many are dependent on government filter dollars. Only a serious crash will change things and that will likely leave a mess.

Though it is coming at some point.

Does Tech Make You Liberal?

I was listening to a video of a recent conference and in the course of their talk, the speaker noted that the future (with technology) would allow for a more equitable distribution of resources. Unless I completely misunderstand the point, this is a very left-wing idea, even communistic, though I am sure the speaker would deny that.

I have seen this in a wide range of tech individuals. I do not like the liberal-conservative scale as I feel it distorts many things, but I will use it briefly in this post. Even a so-called conservative seems as rare in tech as in Hollywood.

It is quite ironic since most of these people have their money because of the few remaining elements of a capitalistic system that we still have today. (We are far from a true capitalistic system, but I will leave that for another post.) Yet they are more than happy to in essence proclaim that they, or their cohort in government, know better how to spend our money than we do.

It is ultimately all about control I suppose. They have made money and have tasted the control that comes with that money. Now they want to control others. Whatever they may proclaim, evaluate how much "freedom to fail" they will allow and that will reveal their desire for control.

You must be free to fail if you are to be truly free to succeed!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I have been playing World of Warcraft a bit too much in the past few months, but I am seeing a trend that is common throughout many things in life today.

Instead of providing a platform and letting users find their own way around, the developers seem to have too deep a compelling need to control how people use their product. So they continually make changes to make "their way" the easiest/best/whatever way to proceed through the game.

I like things like this because I like building things. I don't play with Legos much, but this is in many ways a quite similar area. Their tweaking to push me to play "their way" is really annoying.

It is also a lot like the rest of life today, unfortunately. Note that you can carry out almost any form of sexuality you like, but if you want to smoke you are the worst person in the world. Soon we will likely see an effort to stamp out certain food choices.

All this comes from those claiming to want freedom. Yet they continue to limit it by those who don't fit with their definition of freedom. Their actions don't fit their words.

Stop the nanny state, in life and World of Warcraft!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Expensive E-Books

Why are e-books so high priced? I would buy a lot more at $0.99 to $2.99, but not for the $6.99 and up many of them charge. Technical ones are even higher priced. It is too expensive to build up a good digital library today.

I wish publishing companies would realize that some of us would buy a lot more at a much lower price point. Here they have drastically reduced costs and they only seek to jack up their profits instead of increasing adoption. Most paperbacks can be bought cheaper than the e-book version, especially at a used bookstore.

Their loss.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why Do We Have a Debt Ceiling?

So much talk is saying we have to extend the debt ceiling. Why do we have a ceiling at all if that is the case? A ceiling that always moves is not a ceiling....

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Government Overhead

We believe so many foolish things in life. The ongoing belief that the government can provide "free benefits" is one of those things. Too many people think this or that program is just and proper, not realizing that whatever the government does it must take from other people.

This can be directly, in the form of taxes and such, or it can be indirectly in the form of inflation, primarily by printing more money. Both steal from one group to pay benefits to another group, with the government skimming off a portion along the way.

In fact, this skimmed amount can be really bad.

Wake up and realize that everything has a price.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Why are You Here?

What is your point for being alive? Do you know?

I would strongly argue that anyone who can't answer that is living a very pointless life.

Some things must be pushed through, even painful things, but a true purpose makes it all bearable!

How Intolerant are You?

While it doesn't completely surprise me, I find it interesting that those who are supposedly the most tolerant are completely intolerant of anyone who doesn't accept their belief system. They may claim that we can all "believe what we want," but if your beliefs including thinking you are wrong, you are worse than an infidel to them.

How tolerant is that?

It is really a human problem. No one can really completely accept anything, so they only claim to do so until their hypocrisy is exposed. Unfortunately, most people don't currently hold others accountable for such hypocrisy.

How honest are you about your intolerance?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Imagine if This Were the Tea Party

Look at the coverage of the effective riots in Wisconsin. Imagine these were Tea Party members. The media would not be off the "bad people" argument. Yet they say barely a peep about the far worse behavior and even death threats of those involved here.

Couldn't be bias, could it?
Most of you have probably seen the demonstrations (and worse) going on in Wisconsin. Those who had negotiated quite cushy perks are really upset that they may lose the right to negotiate those in the future.

Whether you are in favor of unions or not, having them in the public sector (the only place they are growing or maintaining strength) seems a bit wrong. The can organize and support candidates who will give them more benefits. That is a kind of self-feeding system, for the worse.

The state is broke, they need to tighten their belts and live without things they may have claimed as their right in the past, just as all of us are doing now. They don't like it, so they are "throwing a tantrum." What is not surprising, but still saddening, is how many liberal apologists proclaim they have the right to everything.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I am Awed by Design

It never ceases to amaze me that men can look at the complex designs in nature and yet credit them to random chance. This is in spite of the fact that nothing in life that they can observe works that way! I have worked many years in software development and information security and neither of those areas will work right if you don't put a lot of effort into designing things to work properly.

Even the "simple cell" is complex beyond our imagination. Yet we maintain the persistent myth that random forces caused all this.

Talk about believing "its turtles all the way down"....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Content "Piracy"

We regularly here that accessing content "illegally" is stealing. We really need to reevaluate this stance. While we have certainly "owned content" for the past several decades, this was not the historical norm. Prior to this, anyone could reprint just about anything, though the costs of doing so were the more limiting factor. Now, the duplication costs are effectively zero, so it is much harder to keep control.

One serious flaw in the argument is that stealing takes something from someone else. If I steal your phone, you don't have a phone. On the contrary, if I copy your mp3 file, you still have full access to your own. By this logic, if I hear you singing a new song I will have "stolen it" if I sing it myself.

This doesn't hold up to logic and I suspect that it will not hold up in the long term.

As with much of life, those arguing for the "new order" are not looking for the good of society, they are looking out for their own pocketbook. While this is to be expected, we should keep it in mind when deciding what is the right thing to do.

NOTE: I am not advocating the copying of material. I am just discussing the reasoning behind things.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Focus Pocus

I believe I have written before that this is my biggest challenge. I do great once I have a clear goal (whether I generate it or it is given by others), but I can have a hard time getting to that point if nothing is driving me there.

That is the biggest challenge in life too!

In fact, each of us must ultimately decide what to focus on. Allowing others to do that will almost certainly take us to a place where we do not want to be. While the individual decisions may seem fine, each one may take us farther from a goal that we would be really satisfied with.

I do not believe you can really plan your entire life out, though a few people do seem to come very close to that. Life has a way of stepping in the middle and messing up the best plans. That should not be used as an excuse to not do anything though. It is far better to aim at something and adjust your aim, than to aim at nothing and hit it!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"I Don't Want Anything"

Most people loudly insist that they don't want any outside support. They will often proclaim, "I don't want anything." Yet I think this is far from reality. What is much more likely is that they don't want any "strings" with what they get. They want an ATM machine that they never put money in, but that they can take it out without even a receipt saying, "be thankful for what you got."

In the past, I believe some really did want to "do it on their own," but that inner drive is largely missing. While I am an incredibly motivated individual, I have to constantly watch myself, how much more for someone that really isn't interested in things?

Look at all the programs (government and otherwise) to help people out. None of them (that I know of) are hurting for applicants. If anything, we are constantly told we need to "do more" even though the need will never be filled. Some people are in truly rough situations, but the answer is to help all of us learn skills to get out of the mess, not just throw money and resources in to let us keep the same attitudes that kept us in the mess in the first place.

We need to have an attitude shift. We need to stop doing the things that poor people do and start doing the things that enable people to gain wealth. Everyone will never be "above average," but we can certainly do much better.

Life is about always improving, yourself and your relationships with others. How are you furthering that goal today?

NOTE: The reason it is impossible for everyone to be "above average" is because average just means "in the middle." Someone will always be in the middle. Some will always be above and some will always be below average. Nothing can change this. The key is to raise the tide, not just specific boats.

I suppose this is why "the poor will always be with us." Poor is often a relative term, even though a mindset is often what keeps people stuck there. The poor of today have far more than even the rich several hundred years ago, but we don't have a gratefulness for that, which goes back to the start of this entry. Thus the circle continues.