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Why so many quotes?

I’ve been asked by several individuals why I publish so many quotes on my BLOG.

The answer is simple.

You gain new perspective by viewing an issue from another vantage point.

Good quotes are ones that make us think and reassess the conclusions we’ve drawn about a topic.

Even if you don’t change your view point, a quote is often good for a chuckle — or a shake of your head.

Originally posted 2010-03-14 02:00:15.

Bed Bath and Beyond

I can tell you what the Beyond is in their name… that would be their service.

First, I’m not much for “assemble yourself” furniture… I prefer well made, solid wood furniture (which generally means I buy turn of the century — that would be circa 1900; and have no problem paying for it).

Unfortunately I wanted a piece of furniture for my bath room, and I wasn’t having much luck finding an older piece (I guess bath room furniture wasn’t very popular 100 years ago), so I looked around a found a couple places that had at least solid wood frame furniture that seemed relatively well made.

The local Bed Bath and Beyond didn’t stock the piece I was interested in (they had a similar piece, and another piece in that collection — but the piece I wanted was being discontinued — figures), so I had to order it (the upside was that it was about $50 less).

I placed the order, got a confirmation, and a shipment notice the next business day (all of which I expect from any decent e-Tailer).

The piece arrived, and the UPS person delivered it and for the most part the box looked like it was in pretty good shape, two of the corners were a little dented — but no reason to assume that item was damaged.

As I started to assemble the piece, I noted that one side piece had a very small chip, but I felt that it probably wouldn’t be noticed, and it would be easy to touch up.  Then I got to the top — damn — the back right corner must have been right where one of the packages corners took a hit, it was slightly deformed, and with light shining on it it was going to stick out like a sore thumb.

I wasn’t sure what to do, but I figured I’d call customer service before I continued the assembly.

I called, and the hold time was much longer than I would have liked — and the annoying message that I could leave a message (over and over) was beginning to get on my nerves just as an agent picked up my call.

She was polite, and immediately made what sounded to be a genuine apology for the inconvenience.  She would have been happy to have the warehouse ship me both parts, but as I told here I’d probably cause more damage replacing the side piece, and really only the top was a “must replace”.

I haven’t seen the confirmation of shipment of the replacement parts yet — but I have every confidence that there won’t be any issues…

Now, we’ll see if the local store is as easy to deal with doing a return of another item.

Originally posted 2009-08-06 01:00:42.

High Speed Rail might be de-railed

It’s very likely that one of the casualties of the mid-term elections will be the high-speed-rail grants.

Representative John Mica (R-FL) who is in line to be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has indicated he wants to re-examine all $10 billion worth of high-speed-rail grants that have already been awarded around the country.

High speed rail service would be an extremely cost effective competitor to increasing air transportation; it would be far more eco-friendly; use less energy; potentially use renewable energy; and unlike airports, high speed rail stations could be in the middle of busy metropolitan areas.

No question the US has to tighten it’s belt and bring it’s spending in line with it’s bank accounts — but investments in long term infrastructure improvements are likely what will allow the economy to rebound and gain a solid footing.

I’d say we need to look at all the spending and make sure we make cuts where it’s waste first — and then weigh the costs and benefits before making other cuts.

As I’ve posted before — we could cut down the salaries, retirement pensions, and health insurance costs for elected official… that’s a good start to savings — and elected officials should get the same “benefits” they approve for the American people.

Originally posted 2010-11-23 02:00:13.

Hurricane Names

Hurricane names come from six pre-established lists; however, when a storm is extremely severe, it’s name is retired from the list and replaced by a new name.  You can view lists for past and future years simply by doing an internet search on “hurricane names”.  [Notice that there are no names on the list that begin with the letters ‘Q’ or ‘U’]

The name list for 2009-2012 Atlantic Hurrican Seasons are:

  • 2009 Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fabian, Grace, Henri, Isabel, Juan, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, Wanda
  • 2010 Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igor, Julia, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie, Walter
  • 2011 Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince, Whitney
  • 2012 Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie, William

 Retired hurricane names alphabetical:

  • Agnes (1972)
  • Alicia (1983)
  • Allen (1980)
  • Allison (2001)
  • Andrew (1992)
  • Anita (1977)
  • Audrey (1957)
  • Betsy (1965)
  • Beulah (1967)
  • Bob (1991)
  • Camille (1969)
  • Carla (1961)
  • Carmen (1974)
  • Carol (1954)
  • Celia (1970)
  • Cesar (1996)
  • Charley (2004)
  • Cleo (1964)
  • Connie (1955)
  • David (1979)
  • Dean (2007)
  • Dennis (2005)
  • Diana (1990)
  • Diane (1955)
  • Donna (1960)
  • Dora (1964)
  • Edna (1968)
  • Elena (1985)
  • Eloise (1975)
  • Fabian (2003)
  • Felix (2007)
  • Fifi (1974)
  • Flora (1963)
  • Floyd (1999)
  • Fran (1996)
  • Frances (2004)
  • Frederic (1979)
  • Georges (1998)
  • Gilbert (1988)
  • Gloria (1985)
  • Gustav (2008)
  • Hattie (1961)
  • Hazel (1954)
  • Hilda (1964)
  • Hortense (1996)
  • Hugo (1989)
  • Ike (2008)
  • Inez (1966)
  • Ione (1955)
  • Iris (2001)
  • Isabel (2003)
  • Isidore (2002)
  • Ivan (2004)
  • Janet (1955)
  • Jeanne (2004)
  • Joan (1988)
  • Juan (2003)
  • Katrina (2005)
  • Keith (2000)
  • Klaus (1990)
  • Lenny (1999)
  • Lili (2002)
  • Luis (1995)
  • Marilyn (1995)
  • Michelle (2001)
  • Mitch (1998)
  • Noel (2007)
  • Opal (1995)
  • Paloma (2008)
  • Rita (2005)
  • Roxanne (1995)
  • Stan (2005)
  • Wilma (2005)

Retired hurricane names chronological:

  • 1954 – Carol
  • 1954 – Hazel
  • 1955 – Connie
  • 1955 – Diane
  • 1955 – Ione
  • 1955 – Janet
  • 1957 – Audrey
  • 1960 – Donna
  • 1961 – Carla
  • 1961 – Hattie
  • 1963 – Flora
  • 1964 – Cleo
  • 1964 – Dora
  • 1964 – Hilda
  • 1965 – Betsy
  • 1966 – Inez
  • 1967 – Beulah
  • 1968 – Edna
  • 1969 – Camille
  • 1970 – Celia
  • 1972 – Agnes
  • 1974 – Carmen
  • 1974 – Fifi
  • 1975 – Eloise
  • 1977 – Anita
  • 1979 – David
  • 1979 – Frederic
  • 1980 – Allen
  • 1983 – Alicia
  • 1985 – Elena
  • 1985 – Gloria
  • 1988 – Gilbert
  • 1988 – Joan
  • 1989 – Hugo
  • 1990 – Diana
  • 1990 – Klaus
  • 1991 – Bob
  • 1992 – Andrew
  • 1995 – Luis
  • 1995 – Marilyn
  • 1995 – Opal
  • 1995 – Roxanne
  • 1996 – Cesar
  • 1996 – Fran
  • 1996 – Hortense
  • 1998 – Georges
  • 1998 – Mitch
  • 1999 – Floyd
  • 1999 – Lenny
  • 2000 – Keith
  • 2001 – Allison
  • 2001 – Iris
  • 2001 – Michelle
  • 2002 – Isidore
  • 2002 – Lili
  • 2003 – Fabian
  • 2003 – Isabel
  • 2003 – Juan
  • 2004 – Charley
  • 2004 – Frances
  • 2004 – Ivan
  • 2004 – Jeanne
  • 2005 – Dennis
  • 2005 – Katrina
  • 2005 – Rita
  • 2005 – Stan
  • 2005 – Wilma
  • 2007 – Dean
  • 2007 – Felix
  • 2007 – Noel
  • 2008 – Gustav
  • 2008 – Ike
  • 2008 – Paloma

Originally posted 2009-08-11 01:00:26.

Xoom

Several weeks ago I purchased a Motorola Xoom (WiFi only model), I’d looked at the Acer, the Asus, the Samsung, and read up on the Thrive — I decided that the Xoom was the best candidate of the available Android/Honeycomb tablets available now.

I’m happy with my purchase, and it’s amazing how quickly a “gadget” can find its way into your everyday life.

I will write a lengthy review of the Xoom to let you know everything I like about it, and the things I really don’t think are that great… plus I’ll write a post on my rooting adventure (after all, it’s Android, why wouldn’t you root it).

Let me just close with it’s a great tool, and if you’re willing to carry something like that with you it gives you incredible access to books, news, entertainment, information…

I do expect that prices for 10″ tablets will continue to come down… but I’d definitely recommend you only consider a dual-core (or better) tablet.

Originally posted 2011-08-03 02:00:04.

Speeding Up Your Home / Small Office Network

This will be the first in a multi-part post targeted at making suggestions as to how you can improve the performance of your home and / or small office network.

None of these recommendations require a rocket scientist, and if there are questions on any of these topics I’ll try and take the time to put together a HOW-TO post to cover those areas.

__________

The Intenet, and your home network use TCP/IP, and while it was designed to withstand a nuclear attack, it isn’t necessarily always the most efficient protocol.

DNS (Domain Name Service) is built on top of TCP/IP and it’s purpose is to provide a way to refer to nodes on the “network” by name rather than remembering the address (in dotted quad notation).

Most modern computers are capable of caching DNS resolutions, so that you don’t have to continually resolve the addresses, and that’s important for a browser since it will often load many parts of a page from the same address.  However, if you have more than one computer on your network, those computers do not share the information they have (some routers will also do DNS caching).

A good way to improve the performance of your network is to implement a local caching DNS server; that type of server basically only knows how to do resolutions, it doesn’t have any addresses stored locally (that makes it easy to install and maintain — since you really don’t need to do anything to it once it’s setup except check for security updates).

If you happen to have a Windows server machine (2000, 2003, or 2008) then you can just install Microsoft’s DNS server and use it.  However if you only have Windows workstations (home, professional, etc) then a good option is BIND from ISC — it’s totally free, and is the reference platform for DNS.  For a novice BIND can be a little daunting, but you can download everything you need to setup a caching only name server.  If you have a *nix machine around (that’s BSD, Linux, OS-X) then you can also run BIND on it, and odds are there are some ready to run configuration files with your distribution.

After you have BIND installed you will need to tell each of your machines to use your local DNS server rather than the current server they use; odds are your router does DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) and issues IP addresses as well as gateways and dns information to each of your machines.  Just change your router so that it provides the address of your local dns server rather than the ones it currently does and you should be good to go.

Now with BIND installed locally, you can also create your own zone and name your machines — but more about that in a future post.

Originally posted 2009-01-09 12:00:12.

seeker of truth

seeker of truth
by e. e. cummings

seeker of truth

follow no path
all paths lead where

truth is here

Originally posted 2017-02-28 12:00:31.

Hybrid Vehicles

There’s been a great deal of “buzz” over hybrid vehicles being green… but for a very long time I’ve had some serious questions about just how green they are.

Yes, there’s no question that their carbon emissions are substantially lower than gasoline powered vehicles (but remember, hybrids do use gasoline).

Yes, hybrids are a significant step forward (though the modifications to hybrids that allow them to be recharged and ran totally from electricity certainly makes them far more green; and really shouldn’t cost any more in a production model).

But the reality is green isn’t just about the emission in the every day use of the vehicle — green also has to do with the environmental impact of the production of the batteries and their disposal.

Most hybrids use lead acid, a few newer ones use Lithium Ion / Lithium Polymer… neither of which is exactly eco-friendly (I’d prefer them not to be buried in my back yard, or any where near where my water comes from).

Lead acid batteries have a limit life; how long they last depends on a number of variables, and some of the materials can be recycled and reused – but you need to make sure that your community has setup to deal with those issues before you buy your hybrid.  My reading indicates that only California has implement stringent rules for the warranty and handling of lead acid batteries in hybrid (hopefully more states will follow suit).

Lithium cells appear to be a great solution.  They’re small and dense; but the downside is they have a three year life span from the time they were manufactured.  And Lithium is an extremely dangerous substance to release into the environment.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy a hybrid; they are good choices for many drivers (particularly commuters who can’t use all electric), but consider the impact of the improperly disposed of batteries, and even the properly disposed of batteries resulting from normal wear and tear as well as accidents.

Green isn’t something you should try and see under a microscope — it’s an end-to-end game.

Originally posted 2010-01-17 01:00:52.

Due Process in Jeopardy

by Wendy McElroy, The Freeman

The Supreme Court takes liberty lightly

Last week the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Comstock et al. that Congress has the constitutional authority to empower federal district courts to civilly commit dangerous sex offenders who had completed their sentences. In effect, the courts can mandate indefinite confinement of such federal prisoners. The controversial power derives from Section 4248 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

Civil commitment generally refers to the involuntary confinement in a mental institution of a person deemed dangerous to themselves or to others. In 1949 the federal government assumed the power to detain federal prisoners in treatment facilities past their sentences if they were judged insane. The new decision expands this power in significant ways. Moreover, given the aggressiveness with which the law and public opinion focuses on sex offenders, use of the new civil commitment power is likely to become widespread.

The decision also invites state involvement in federal civil commitment. The ruling declares that “‘all reasonable efforts’ must be made to cause the State where tried person was tried, or the State where he is domiciled, to ‘assume responsibility for his custody, care, and treatment.’” Only if both states refuse will the federal government accept responsibility for the prisoner. Currently, 20 states have their own civil commitment programs that include sex offenders. Presumably, all states will now be expected to establish policy on this issue.

The respondents in the original motion were federal prisoners who challenged the constitutionality of being detained through civil commitment for years past their release date. The federal government argued the Walsh Act is authorized by both the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, which are often paired together. The Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) gives Congress the power “To regulate Commerce … among the several States….” It has been broadly interpreted to include laws mandating the state sex registries also established by the Walsh Act. The Necessary and Proper Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18), also known as the Elastic Clause, gives Congress the power “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” The government argued that the Walsh Act is necessary to establish and maintain a federal penal system.

In an amicus brief filed on behalf of the prisoners, the Cato Institute countered these claims. Regarding the Commerce Clause: “Notably, the Government does not and cannot affirmatively argue that the Act is a legitimate exercise of Congress’ Commerce Clause power. Civil commitment involves neither commerce nor interstate activity. Mental illness demands physicians not merchants.” Regarding the Necessary and Proper Clause: “[L]egislation adopted under the Clause may be justified only by an enumerated power, not by an implied power. Congress may carry into execution the powers specifically delegated to it, and the Necessary and Proper Clause permits adoption of reasonable means to carry into execution the enumerated power. But there the power ends. Indeed, the Tenth Amendment was adopted to ensure that Congress did not rely upon the Clause to expand its powers….”

Lower courts agreed with Cato’s analysis.

In the original motion both the district court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Congress had exceeded its constitutional powers. The unanimous appellate decision held that Congress lacked a general police power to protect the public at large from crime.(By contrast, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of civil commitment for a “sexually dangerous person.”)

The Supreme Court decision, however, endorsed the federal power by a vote of 7-2. Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented. In the dissenting opinion, Thomas stated, “The fact that the federal government has the authority to imprison a person for the purpose of punishing him for a federal crime — sex-related or otherwise — does not provide the government with the additional power to exercise indefinite civil control over that person.”

Interestingly, the constitutional protections of due process contained in the Bill of Rights played no substantive part in the ruling. The decision stated, “We do not reach or decide any claim that the statute or its application denies equal protection of the laws, procedural or substantive due process, or any other rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Thus the most important issue for civil libertarians was not addressed: Does the continued imprisonment of a category of criminals who have served their sentence violate the due-process and equal-protection guarantees in the Constitution? The closest the Court came to addressing this issue was Justice Breyer’s statement, “[We] assume, but we do not decide, that other provisions of the Constitution — such as the Due Process Clause — do not prohibit civil commitment.” In short, the Court’s default position is that indefinite confinement of a prisoner past his sentence is constitutional and legally proper. Constitutional considerations such as the due-process protections of the Fourth and Fifth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment protection against “cruel and unusual punishment,” and the Equal Protection of the Fourteenth Amendment appear not to automatically apply to “dangerous’ sex offenders.”

A key concern about the ruling is mission drift — namely, that civil commitment will be applied to ever widening categories of people. Since alcoholics and drug addicts are currently subject to such involuntary commitment in several states, this is a reasonable concern. It is not reassuring that the government’s case in Comstock was presented by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court. She is almost certain to be confirmed. Orin Kerr, who attended the proceedings, reported at the Volokh Conspiracy website, “Kagan made a much broader Article I power argument at oral argument than was made in the Government’s brief. Indeed, her argument struck me as sort of shockingly broad: She argued that the Constitution gives the federal government the general power ‘to run a responsible criminal justice system,’ and that anything Congress plausibly thought a part of running a ‘responsible criminal justice system’ was within the scope of federal power.”

This does not bode well for individual rights or due process.

NOTE:

I wrote this post a little over a week ago; yesterday the Supreme Court issued a ruling effecting Miranda Rights.  Apparently choosing to be silent, without actually stating that you choose to be so is no longer considered exercising your right to terminate a police interrogation.  The 5-4 decision puts those who Miranda was most intended to protect at the most risk for police abuse.

The bottom line, now a suspect must clearly state that they wish to remain silent and that the interrogation is over… if a suspect does not invoke their right, the police are free to keep interrogating their suspect as long as they so choose.

Originally posted 2010-06-02 02:00:07.

The End of an Error

Today marks the end of an error and tomorrow the beginning of a new era in America… or at least that’s our hopes.

What?

Today is George W Bush’s last full day as President of the United States; and tomorrow we will have a new president, a president who takes office at a time when the American economy and the very foundation of America is crumbling, a president who talks of a new direction and a sustainable future.

My personal belief is that FDR put us on this path, and years of patch work laws creating a welfare capitalistic state combined with heavily regulated practices in some sectors and virtually no regulation in others.

I’m hopeful for the future, but change will not come quickly, nor will it come for free… we as Americans need to decide where we want out future to take us, and commit to having a better world for future generations.

Originally posted 2009-01-19 12:00:13.