Archive for July, 2006

I give the waitress who brings my breakfast a twenty percent tip

July 22, 2006 6 comments

Homeless Charles Moore of Detroit was digging through a dumpster to find recyclable bottles.  He found $21,000 in US Savings Bonds.  He took them to an all-night shelter where a staffer tracked down the owners, who showed their gratitude with a $100 reward.

Here you go, Mr. Homeless man.  Thanks SO much for bringing these by.  Here’s a nice crisp $100 bill.

Just sayin…

Categories: News, observations

Microsoft annoyances of the day

July 20, 2006 1 comment

If someone sent you an email with an attached PowerPoint presentation containing “18 humorous slides about love between men and women”, naturally you’d assume it was the new PowerPoint virus and you wouldn’t open it.  But apparently some people still have not heard about email attachments and viruses.  Incredible!  It’s a keystroke logger, so it’s particularly dangerous.

Oh, and if you didn’t hate Microsoft’s talking paperclip enough, ‘Clippy’ has a security hole, too.

Categories: Geeky, Security

I’ll be darned; that really IS Dr. Z in those Chrysler commercials

July 19, 2006 4 comments

When I saw Chrysler’s new commercials with “Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Mercedes” making humorous explanations of Mercedes engineering in new Chrysler cars, I just assumed he was some actor.  After all, he’s pretty darn smooth on camera.  His humor is very fine-tuned.  His mustasche is just a little too… He could be a stand-up comic or something. 

According to the Chicago Tribune, it’s really him.  He’s a really impressive guy: he’s an engineer, he speaks seven languages, he sailed the Atlantic in a sailboat, and yes, the mustache is real.  Who knew?

The commercials poke fun at Dr. Z.  A school child asks; “Is that mustache real?”  An exasperated film director reminds him of his lines and exclaims; “Actors!”  He ‘accidentally’ finds a J.D. Powers award in a Chrysler minivan.  The website, Ask Dr. Z is hilarious.

Sorry, Dr. Z, I like your commercials, but I still don’t think much of Chrysler cars or even of Mercedes.  The former have a long way to go, and the latter, while quite impressively engineered, are overrated for reliability and practicality of ownership.  And the local Mercedes dealer here is a jerk, too.  This is all from owners I know.

In fact, a friend of mine went online looking for a used minivan.  He wanted something less than three years old.  He found 1,400 Plymouth Voyagers… and one Honda Odyssey.  That’s not advertising hype, it’s a bunch of owners who paid big bucks for a new Voyager, and traded them in within three years.

My friend bought a new Honda Odyssey.  Don’t get him started, Dieter; he loves it.

Categories: Advertising, business

President Bush playing moral dress-up

July 19, 2006 8 comments

The Republican-controlled Senate has approved a bill to expand stem-cell research, but president Bush says he’ll veto it.

Tony Snow explains: “The simple answer is he thinks murder is wrong.”

Let me get this straight, Mr. President: because you can’t distinguish between a few already-doomed cells in a petri dish and a living child (or even a late-term fetus), you’re about to use your veto power FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YOUR MISBEGOTTEN PRESIDENCY?! 

You’re pathetic, Mr. President.  Our country is racking up enormous deficits, but you’ve never vetoed a single piece of spending legislation (and yet you call yourself a Republican with a straight face).  You pander to the most freedom-hating elements of American society and call it leadership.  So go ahead, veto the bill when it hits your desk.  It’ll be warm-fuzzies all around while you and your anti-science crowd posture yourselves as moral paragons.

Categories: Politics

A private part of the common good

July 18, 2006 2 comments

When I was a kid my dad would often stop his ‘53 Mercury, get out, and clear an obstruction in the road.  It might be a branch, some rocks, even a bale of hay that had fallen off a truck.  Then he’d get back in the car and we’d drive off.  I thought it was normal for people to do that. 

In later years, I came to understand that it is not normal.  Most people, if they see a branch in the road, would drive around them, muttering “somebody should do something about that.”  Today, people seem to feel that any harm to the public good can only be addressed by a public agency – the highway department, the schools, the police, someone ‘official’.

On the better side of the ledger, check out MrsDoF’s latest post, Making walking worthwhile in which she combines the common good with her private good.  Go check it out and give her some props :-)

What if everybody did something?

Open thread: best way to “help The Poor”

July 18, 2006 28 comments

The comments on the previous thread, “Line in the sand have veered off onto a tangent that I believe deserves its own thread.  The question is: “Supposing you do want to help the poor, HOW?”  What is the best way to go about it?  You can even knock Bush, defend Bush, remember Johnson, promote libertarianism – whatever you think contributes to the topic.  Don’t hold back!

I’ll check in on this thread in a few days to contribute a thought or two.

Categories: Issues, observations

Election-year “Line in the sand” and the Bible

July 16, 2006 26 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about the election-year push to combat gay rights and gay marriage.  The timing suggests to me that it is an attempt to harness voters’ religious faith for political gain.  Another clue is the frantic rhetoric and predictions of ‘gay agenda’ disaster that society will somehow fall apart if gays were allowed to form stable partnerships and settle down.

No doubt the Bible is an anti-gay document, but that is hardly its emphasis.  In fact, the Bible devotes at least twenty times as much narrative to issues of poverty and economic justice as to the scourge of Adam and Steve.  This is another clue that the issue is being manipulated for political reasons.  If the contents of the Bible were what mattered, politicians would be leaning far to the Left.

My dad always used to say; “Draw ‘em a picture”.  So for your reading entertainment, I have prepared a handout on the subject.  As a graphic metaphor, I am using pennies to stand for Bible passages.  At left are the 12 Bible passages related to homosexuality.  At right are the 250+ passages related to the poor. 


Categories: Religion

Great art and a difficult problem

July 15, 2006 2 comments

WPA murals are a fabulous window into American art and culture of the time.  They adorn post offices, hospitals, high schools – public buildings all over the country.  Some of them contain messages everyone can agree on, but the one at the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. is a tough pill to swallow.  Even if white/Indian relations were not a political sore spot, a Guernica-style massacre is hardly the decoration one might want in a government office.

So, waddya think?  Leave it up?  Knock it down?.  Wouldn’t that be revisionist history?  Or…
(from ***Dave)

Categories: Geeky, History

Ken Lay and the reverend

July 11, 2006 8 comments

I’ve heard a lot of reactions to the death of Ken Lay, none of which would be much of a comfort to his mother.  Suffice it to say, he wasn’t universally loved, and the thought of him clutching his chest and dying in agony doesn’t seem to have cost anybody any sleep.

It isn’t that he committed a crime, nor even that it was such a big crime; it’s the number of people he hurt and the cold, calculating, persistent premeditation of his crime… and the fact that he was so damn sanctimonious about it.  If you really want to be hated, you have to work at it consistently.

Fast forward to Bloomington, IL (twin to Normal, IL), then and see the conundrum of the pastor of the local Presbyterian church here.  It isn’t just any church; it’s one of the oldest, yet most innovative, and highly respected churches in the county.

The lead pastor, Ted Pierce, has spearheaded the formation of an outreach mission to the homeless.  He’s maneuvered a building program to replace the main sanctuary which had become unsafe.  He helped create an annual countywide volunteerism campaign.  Most people would say he’s a good guy.

And yet… a little less than two weeks ago, he seemed on the verge of killing his wife.  The Pantagraph reports has been “charged with aggravated battery, criminal trespass to a residence and domestic battery”…

The dispute started when Pierce arrived at his wife’s new home and learned she was inside with a male friend, according to court records.

Prosecutors say Ted Pierce entered the house, grabbed Laura Pierce by the neck and began choking her in an attempt to make her admit the man was her boyfriend… [he] then held a knife to [her] and said he was going to kill her if she didn’t confess by the time he finished counting to three, according to the charges.

Laura Pierce suffered several scratches and wounds from the knife as she pushed it away from her body, charges state; those wounds led to the charge of aggravated battery. Ted Pierce eventually left the home after his wife told him to think of their two children, court records said.

That’s an absolutely horrible thing to do, but it was, as they say, a “crime of passion”.  Somehow I just can’t work up the dislike for Rev. Pierce that I have for Ken Lay.  Pierce didn’t work at being evil; just the opposite.  But the incident will certainly complicate his memory.

If you are ever tempted to think that Christians are all unforgiving, judgmental Pharisees, consider the example of this church, which has placed him on medical leave and is waiting for more information.  An associate pastor said; “Do we approve of what happened? Of course not. Nobody in their right mind would.  But the issue is that Ted is still one of us. These things happen to people. Nobody is in a position to point fingers.”

OK, so the church is a loving, caring community, not quick to judge.  Fine.  But what about the man’s wife?  How is she doing now?  The article did not say.  But it’s not hard to imagine her thinking; “Sure, they’re all protective of their great leader.  If it was anyone else they’d be saying ‘get the rope’!”

Then again, she may be, like the church itself, a model of forgiveness.  It probably depends on how much of the picture she wants to take in at one viewing.  That equation may change over time.  I can only imagine how her immediate family must feel.

Pierce will no doubt be punished – he was just a quick move away from being our local example of O.J. Simpson.  And he should be punished.  You can’t have a civil society without exacting a cost for behavior like that. It will radiate out to taint everything he accomplished. 

This is where it would be comforting to believe in a personal God who could put it all on a balance and decide, thumbs up or thumbs down.  And because of that God’s perspective, we’d all just accept it.

But in the absence of any such being, we’re all kind of stuck trying to figure out what to put at the right of the ‘equal’ sign.  Because despite the doctrine of original sin, some people just add up differently from others.

Categories: Religion

44th Carnival Of The Godless

July 9, 2006 1 comment

“Got Secular?”  The 44th Carnival Of The Godless is up at Daylight Atheism, featuring a huge helping of Bloggy goodness.

Ebonmuse has collected “a wide variety of godless goodness from around the world for your consideration and enjoyment.”  (He even included a bit o’ the old Decrepitude in the mix! )  It’s definitely enough to keep me out of the pool halls this week.  Go check it out.  :coolsmile:

Categories: Blogging, Geeky