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Journal: Why do people support Ron Paul? 14

Journal by Reality Master 101

Ron Paul has been getting a lot of attention as an "outsider" candidate, and in fact, even here at Slashdot I've seen a lot of Ron Paul in sigs.

So I decided to visit his web site and see what he's all about. Uhhhhhh... why is this guy getting so much geek attention? I can only assume that people are focusing on some single issue, and haven't checked what the guy actually *believes*. Much like people who support the Libertarian Party, actually, who have some seriously crackpot stuff in their platform. But I digress.

What's wrong with Ron Paul? Here's a sampling:

"So called free trade deals and world governmental organizations like the International Criminal Court (ICC), NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and CAFTA are a threat to our independence as a nation. They transfer power from our government to unelected foreign elites. [...] And a free America, with limited, constitutional government, would be gone forever." link

Sheesh. Sure, the value of trade deals is debatable, but the rhetoric above is just silly. "Gone FOREVER" OH NOOOOO!! Typical Politician fear-mongering, if not out-and-out crackpottery. So far, I'm not impressed.

I oppose legislation that increases the FDA's legal powers. FDA has consistently failed to protect the public from dangerous drugs, genetically modified foods, dangerous pesticides and other chemicals in the food supply. Meanwhile they waste public funds attacking safe, healthy foods and dietary supplements. link

Oh, geez. The FDA is certainly not perfect, but to say that the FDA "consistently" fails to protect the public from dangerous drugs is just a lie. If it wasn't for the FDA, we would be flooded with quack drugs. The Libertarian would say that the consumer should decide what's good and what's bad, but it's impractical for every citizen to have to review all the studies to know whether the thousands of drugs are effective or not. Again, I'll listen to how the FDA can be improved, but overblown words like the above don't give me confidence that there's any substance to the man.

And then, to top it off, he attacks *all* genetically modified foods broadly, showing that he has an anti-science agenda, and is completely ignorant of the issue.

I am committed to guaranteeing parity for home school diplomas and advancing equal scholarship consideration for students entering college from a home school environment. [...] I will veto any legislation that creates national standards or national testing for home school parents or students. link

I'm a supporter of home schooling, but let me get this straight. He wants home-schooled kids to have equal parity for diplomas, equal consideration for scholarships, yet doesn't think they should be be tested to see if they learned anything?? How is that supposed to work? And is the government going to force universities to accept home schooled kids with no testing?

The framers of the Constitution never in their worst nightmares imagined that the words, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech......." would be used to ban children from praying in school, prohibit courthouses from displaying the Ten Commandments, or prevent citizens from praying before football games. The original meaning of the First amendment was clear on these two points: The federal government cannot enact laws establishing one religious denomination over another, and the federal government cannot forbid mention of religion, including the Ten Commandments and references to God. link

First of all, he's being disingenuous here. Nowhere are children "banned" from praying in school. What is banned is the SCHOOL leading prayer. That he doesn't seem to understand this (or is lying about it) is incredibly worrisome.

And then he doesn't seem to understand that freedom of religion means the government cannot advocate one religion over another, and in fact, should not be advocating religion at all. I don't feel like quoting more, but he then goes on to attack the idea of the separation of church and state. I think it's pretty clear that he's not going to be a big advocate of atheist rights.

This isn't everything I find disturbing. To be fair, I did see a lot I liked about the man (as I can say about any of the candidates, of any party). But as near as I can see, he is not deserving of the reputation that he seems to be building.

Can anyone tell me why they support Ron Paul, especially in light of the above?

User Journal

Journal: Why universal health care is a Libertarian ideal 4

Journal by Reality Master 101

Disclaimer: I'm not a Libertarian, though I'm sympathetic to *some* of their ideas. A lot of them are crackpot, though.

Universal health care has been traditionally an idea that Libertarians despise, because it's directly against the Libertarian ideal of personal responsibility, and not "stealing" from others to support oneself. In this small essay, I'm going to argue that Universal Health Care *is* necessary to a free Libertarian-style society.

First, let me say that for most of my life, I've been adamantly against Universal Health Care, primarily because I don't trust the governmen not to screw it up. I still believe this, but I've come to believe that UHC is necessary anyway.

The reason is because modern UHC is not directly subject to market forces, hence the reason health care costs are completely out of control in the U.S. The underlying reason is health insurance. Once people stopped paying directly for health care, they stopped caring what it cost. In fact, they had an incentive to get the *most expensive* health care. Why not? "The insurance company is paying for it." And the Doctors certainly have no incentive to keep costs down. Might as well order a few extra tests. The result of this are costs spiralling ever upward.

Now, Libertarian think tanks are aware of this, and their solution was the idea of "medical savings accounts", where people (in essence) get a refund for not using health care. This is a really weak incentive. It helps a little, but it still doesn't address the fundamental corruption of market forces. That this is the best the Libertarians can come up with ought to tell you how impossible it is to fix.

So given that market forces can't work, and in fact people are getting bankrupted every day by health costs, the only solution is really for the government to step in, as inefficient as that can be.

So, even if that's the only solution, why do I say this should be a "Libertarian Ideal"? Let me first start with what most Libertarians think the government *should* do. One of the most fundamental functions of government is to provide a legally level playing field, for example, contract law. Most (hopefully all, but you never know) Libertarians wouldn't argue that contract judges should be privatized. There needs to be a relatively fair legal environment for business.

So how does UHC fit into this? One of the fundamental tenants of Libertarianism is the idea of personal responsibility, that in the end, one should take care of oneself through hard work.

And that's the crux: someone *can't* take care of oneself if they are not physically capable of it. It's unreasonable to say to someone, "I realize that your leg is broken, so work harder so you'll have the money to fix your leg." People cannot be productive without being physically healthy, just like people can't be productive without a reasonable legal environment.

Note that health care is different from other items, say, food. If I'm hungry, it's *is* reasonable to say, "go out and work, so you can afford to buy food." Physical health is a very different idea. It can actually *prevent* the Libertarian ideal of working to support oneself.

So, just like a stable legal system is necessary for a healthy capitalistic society, so is a healthy workforce capable of working to support themselves.

User Journal

Journal: The aspartame CONSPIRACY! 6

Journal by Reality Master 101

Well, not really a conspiracy.

Continuing my recent habit of posting a journal entry every two years or so, I thought I'd share my experience with aspartame-induced headaches.

For a few years, I've been having on-and-off chronic headaches. They felt right behind my eyes, and I seemed to also be somewhat sensitive to bright lights. Sometimes it would be a dull throb, but every so often I get real ball-busters that lasted for over a day that meds just didn't make go away. I pretty much attributed it to getting older. It was annoying, but not life threatening.

Now, I'd heard a lot about aspartame conspiracies, and like most conspiracies, I figured it was all a bunch of crap, along the same lines as "multiple chemical sensitivity" and the like (no offense to people with legitimate allergies).

One day, I was reading along, and I saw a post (it may even have been on Slashdot) where someone said they had been having chronic headaches for a long time that went away when they stopped drinking Aspartame. The guy didn't seem like a looney, so I thought it was worth a try. Anything to get rid of them!

I started drinking water every day, rather than my usual diet sodas. Within a week, there was a noticeable drop in the incidence of headaches, and NO occurances of bad headaches. After a month, I had had only a few incidences of headaches, and still NO bad ones, which was pretty much unprecedented. It's been probably six months now, and my headache problem is pretty much gone. I still get headaches occasionally, but it's a much more normal rate, and not nearly the severity. Still haven't had a ball-buster since I stopped drinking it.

Now, I'm still not an Aspartame looney who wants it banned. Some people go into anaphylactic shock with peanuts, that doesn't mean we should ban peanuts. It just happens to have that effect on me, and doesn't for millions of other people. But it should be common knowledge that it CAN happen to certain people.

Oh, and I don't think it was caffeine that was doing it. I drank a couple of diet cokes a day, but mostly I drank diet Sprite specifically because I don't like a lot of caffeine. My caffeine intake is pretty much zero now, but I've been drinking caffeine for a long time (a LOT back in my 20s) and I never got headaches from it.

If you're having chronic headaches and drink a lot of diet soda like I did, it's worth a try to see if you have the same effect. And I used to pretty hate drinking water, but I got used to it, so I'm okay with it now.

Speaking of water, I also don't buy into the silly "water is better for you anyway" nonsense. Liquid is liquid, your body uses it the same way. And by the way, that "Eight 8-oz glasses of water a day" thing is totally wrong as well, but that's another journal entry (there is ZERO evidence that drinking more water leads to more health).

User Journal

Journal: I Discovered the Secret of Staying in Shape 1

Journal by Reality Master 101
OK, I'm 40 years old and have always had a problem with keeping my weight under control. At certain times in my 20s, I was in decent shape, but it was always a struggle. The last ten years I've been slowly losing the battle, and it doesn't help that my wife is a great cook.

Recently I made the decision that I really had to do something about it, as I've so often done in the past. Zillions of diets, working out, you know the drill -- and then ultimate failure.

My first realization was that my body wanted a certain number of calories, and that number of calories exceeded a healthy maintenance weight. Trying to overcome body chemistry like that is just too damn hard, and you always lose in the end. I can't eat salads rest of my life! I hate them, and it's not sustainable.

OK, step one was being honest with myself that limiting the food supply side would never work. Therefore, the energy demand side had to be increased. Which meant the dreaded exercise. I played a few sports ten years ago, but it's really hard to fit that in with a wife and kids. But I managed to squeeze in some time in the morning before work for the gym.

So I started in on that... but the gym is SOOOO damn boring. That's what pretty much defeated me before, but I was determined to succeed. But I could feel the seeds of failure being planted.

THEN... I heard about something. A high-end gym had DVD players on their cardio machines. The light went off! Good lord, that was it. I went out and bought a portable DVD player (it was like $150 at Sam's Club -- they're CHEAP these days). It came with a strap system that fit over a cardio machine, slick as you please.

It was beautiful. I'd pop in a video and the 45 minutes passed so easily I decided to increase it to an hour. I now burn 1140 calories in an hour, five days a week. And the weight has been coming off! Of course, you can't go crazy and increase your food intake. I actually managed to eat healthier here and there, but it's so freeing to know that I don't have to. All I have to do is watch movies and I'll get in shape, no thought needed.

I usually use the Elliptical Trainer, which does both your legs and arms at the same time. It's also low stress on your back (I have a bad back).

The other key to the plan was signing up for the Blockbuster $15/month unlimited rental plan, where they send you videos, and then when you send them back, they send out another one (it's like Netflix, except cheaper).

Now I actually look forward to my workout in the morning. It gives me one hour of blissful time to watch all the movies I haven't seen, TV shows (I'm watching the HBO series Deadwood right now -- recommended). It's worked out great.

If you've given up ever being in shape and healthy, give the plan a try. It's tailor made for geeks who have to keep their brains occupied or exercise is just torture.

User Journal

Journal: Mmm... This Port is quite good. Quite. 11

Journal by Xerithane

So here it is, my first day of work. Being sent off like a child on the first day of school, with the tears of a sad woman trailing off behind me. She isn't really crying, she's handling it ok. Well, she's sleeping, and quite deeply.

I'm pretty excited, and this job is quite important to me. You see, it's a start-up company ran by one of the few people whom I actually trust to run a start-up company. He's done it before, and been successful. He's a really smart guy. In fact, everybody is really smart. This just makes me feel inferior, because these guys have already succeeded. Me, I'm just masturbating my own ideas hoping they climax at some point before my 30th birthday.

They also are into racing games. To me, this is just like the ultimate sign of character. Mind you, it's not because there is any logic or reason to it, it's just because I like racing games. I was going to invite the prez on over sometime to play some XBox PGR2 or Need for Speed Underground in the theater, except some jackoff decided he could configure the theater better than a paid professional and instead forced it into not working. So, they have to schedule that paid professional to come back out and fix it. I've been really dying to play some XBox in that theater, and now it's like a damn high school cock-tease waiting to.

This internet connection is great, however it decides to start lagging to hell at some points. Seemingly arbitrarily. So, I'll be enjoying some nice Desert Combat (red5, shadowspark, where the hell are you guys?) and then suddenly get kicked because for about 3-5 seconds my connection pings at 400ms. Then it's back down to 40ms or so. That's a whole great big crock of shit, that one. But, it's a $25 T1 shared amongst not that many people, so I can't bitch too much.

Morning, a good day, and my "vacation" is over.

Join me now in a moment of Woo...

Woo.

User Journal

Journal: Voice over IP? 7

Journal by Xerithane

So, in our new apartment our cellphones work better as a marital aid than a communication device (not that I'm aware of any of that sort of usage, just saying it's more functional in any capacity other than it's intended design.)

So, we need to get a home phoneline, and I'm looking at voice over IP. Or calling AT&T and telling them they need to get a signal in this neighborhood, which you know, is right in downtown. How can I not have cell reception in this block. It literally is a block, where we happen to live... I can go down one block in either direction and be at least at 75%... Even if I go to the roof, I get a great signal. I'm not really going to walk to the roof just to make a phone call. My friend has TMobile, and my contract is up for grabs, but my phone is locked. Still have the womans contract which is going to expire in about 10 months. Woo.

So, what are your experiences with VoIP and what provider is good? Most likely be used to call to Japan, because other than that, I don't think I want to talk to people.

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Journal: New Year Moves 2

Journal by Xerithane

In a nutshell, got moved in, just got the computers setup, and had a great New Years. The UHaul trip up was a pain in the ass, after we are supposed to get started at 8am and the UHaul is adamant about not starting, which is contrary to the point of getting a truck to move your belongings from point A to point B.

After the slowest UHaul repairman in the world got to our apartment very quickly (about 35 minutes from the second call to the Breakdown Hotline) he spent 15 minutes unhooking a battery and hooking a new one up. After swapping the batteries out 4 times, and doing miscellaneous stuff, the truck came back to life. So, I'm pretty pleased about that, and we got on the road and we were only 2 hours late.

Luckily, the movers were cool about rescheduling and we got everything up in the apartment in 2 hours. We've spent the last two days just getting everything arranged, and finally this morning had the furniture in a finalized arrangement so I could start doing the computers and network. Right now I just have the router and my workstation up, but it's a good start. We've omitted the dining room table from being placed, because it would just make everything too damn crowded.

After it's up and pimp, I'll take some photos. Anyway, I'm here, and happy fuckin' new year.

User Journal

Journal: First Hill 6

Journal by Xerithane

It's not just for geriatrics!

Found a great apartment in First Hill. Lots of hospitals, and I mean that in the most bizarre way I can. There are more hospitals there than old people, which says a lot.

6 blocks from my work. Includes T1 internet access, parking, satellite TV, sewer, water, garbage, theater and some other stuff. Great times.

I will be having an XBox party in the theater when I get settled. Probably the second weekend in January. Life is good.

User Journal

Journal: Move over Mix a Lot, Seattle has a new pimp in town. 16

Journal by Xerithane

I'll be celebrating (not celebating, I know it isn't a word) New Years in Seattle. Got the good job, really really happy about this. I'm excited about working up there, and a bit nervous about the move. We're going to be living in downtown (Belltown, hopefully, I got my eye on a really nice apartment there) because it's a lot easier than me trying to commute. Me commuting will result in getting lost for the first month (not because I'm bad with directions, because I like to explore. Like Tim Allen) and possibly assaulting some stupid driver. It's just better for society for me not to commute, and I save gas.

I start after the New Year, and probably won't be on much (I haven't really been on lately anyway) because I'm freaking busy. Anyway, just wanted to share the good news.

Cheers.

User Journal

Journal: Seattle, here I (may) come! 28

Journal by Xerithane

I have an interview up in Seattle for a company I would love to work for. Cars + Code = Heaven. Good stuff, and I'm really excited about it. Interview is on Wednesday, and I'm already pretty amped about it. I think it will be a really fun position, and the guy I spoke with on the phone sounded pretty cool, and he likes Toyota/Lexus, too.

Moving to Seattle will be a transition that will take a while to get used to. Luckily it's only 2 hours north, so I can still come down and visit my friends. Being unemployed is just way too boring for me.

User Journal

Journal: Well, damn. 22

Journal by Xerithane

I like to think I know a lot of things in life. Don't confuse saying that with knowing everything, or even just knowing a lot. I know a lot of things. I know, for instance, what the cause of a malfunctioning adrenal cortex is. Not for any particular reason, I just do.

Sometimes, something will just sneak up on me that I didn't know and smack me in the face. Much like the way a big, prison going fellow would smack Michael Jackson in a few weeks. Today, I had one of those smacks. It came after a wonderful morning. We woke up this morning, opened the window to reveal a winter wonderland. A great snow-fall coming down, coating the ground with a whiteness like cocaine. Not that I know what cocaine looks like.

I insisted on driving my girlfriend to school, because as we all know she is asian and asian females shouldn't drive. I mean that in the most non-bigotted way possible, but it's just the way life goes. Fun drive, got to play in the snow a little bit. On the way back, I got stuck. Who would have thought a Lexus SC300 didn't do well in the snow. Luckily, I could rock it out... good thing the light turned red on me during this experience.

I'm still in a great mood. It's a great day, the snow is beautiful, work is going well and I got a side job that was a bit of fun. I got the IMAK SmartGloves, and these things kick ass. My wrists still hurt, but nothing like they were. I would suggest spending the $30 for a pair, if you have anything that resembles pain in your hands or wrists.

Now that I've been long-winded, here is what I learned. If your car is under snow, in freezing temperatures, and you have a really good heater in your car, do not do this. Do not get it going nice and hot, then switch it to the forward defrost vents.

You know what happens? Your fucking windshield cracks. I have this nice little arch going 4" above each vent, from one end to the other. I knew that this would happen with glasses, like if you pull one out of the freezer and pour boiling water in it. A car windshield is a whole different story, and I'm sure I just had some crack that I couldn't see before that caused it. At least I hope that is it, because otherwise I will lose faith in Toyota Motors for a long time. Lowest estimate for repair is $355, so far. Good thing I lost my job, otherwise I could pay for this with these pieces of paper called money. I'm not going to Japan this winter, I'm still pissed about that. And now this.

I mean, damn.

On a side note, pointing out that something is broken doesn't constitute complaining. This is for you SlashChick. If you have ever wondered why I don't use your hosting service and recommend others, let me answer this for you. Because most of the time I read one of your posts, I can't help but think that you are just a touch immature and a touch too emotional to manage my servers. Maybe Slashdot is a personal thing for you, but when trying to whore your business out, act professional.

User Journal

Journal: Some new code, nfScraper 3

Journal by Xerithane

I had to write it up for a short-term contract, and it's pretty slick. I'm going to package it up and post it on nerdfarm tomorrow if anybody is interested.

It's an easily scriptable screen-scraper. I found the ones already existing just didn't have the ease of use that I was looking for. I needed a quick macro-based web-browser. You just pass it commands and it does it, but it is very picky about errors. Anything over 399 (404, 500) will just abort the script.

So, if you need a quick easy-to-control screenscraper, check out nerdfarm tomorrow. I would package it now, but it's running it's second major batch and I want to make sure it is still good through this before releasing it. The code is ugly, and should be re-written. I wasn't planning on having it be a release or a flexible system until I got more specs on the project so it just grew in a fashion of discord.

User Journal

Journal: Green Nazis 36

Journal by Xerithane

I'm done trying to say that I support the actions of my country. I supported, and still do, removing Saddam Hussein. This shit that is happening now is a sign, in case the higher-ups haven't figured that out and are reading this. You know why it's a sign? Because you greedy, money-grubbing assholes are so busy giving contracts to American companies that Iraqis realized the US isn't a savior, just trying to make some green and get some peace as a by-product. This war wasn't about oil, it was about the billions in contracts that can be handed out. We would still have to pay for oil, but these contracts are free money from the tax payers to everybody else involved.

The people getting fucked in this arrangement are the US tax payers and Iraqi civilians trying to make a living. The people benefiting are the Good Ol' Boys club. While I sit here without a job, unable to get a government loan to start up a service that will promote the restaurant industry working more hours than I should, these fat pigs are getting fed even more to provide inefficient services that don't even benefit the local Iraqi economy and makes them be reliant upon the United States.

I never agreed to an occupation. I never agreed to The United States of Iraq. I never agreed to a 51st state. You have disappointed me, and the millions of people who have died to allowed me to say these things.

User Journal

Journal: Knowledge Bases and Customer Satisfaction software. 8

Journal by Xerithane

This market is tapped for commercial products and is extremely lacking in the open source arena. Email (that capitalization is horrible) management is just one piece to it, the other parts is a quick and efficient interface for the agents. No sense in separating the two out, as most problems are easily resolvable by viewing the knowledge base. Then, you sound like a total asshole if you just point customers to the knowledge base, so you have to integrate it into a personalized email.

This makes an interesting situation, one that I will start playing with and releasing open source after my current project starts operating. I'm "writing" an exim+courier+mysql email management system off and on, and by writing I mean that I'm just scripting some stuff and putting a wrapper over the database so it's easy to maintain. It's pretty cool, and I call it Mr. Mail (It's fun to say, try it.) so when it actually works, you guys can see that up on nerdfarm.

So, since this is going to be a full-blown open source project I'm just putting the feelers out if anybody has any particular knowledge base or email management system in the open source (or even proprietary) realm that they like and enjoy the features. Also, if you want to help code or do UI stuff, send me an email or IM, or just reply, and when I get time I'll give you the rundown on MagicBox and the MB::Templates. The basic syntax is pretty easy, just <% macro [condition]/%> or <% macro [condition] %> CDATA <% macro end %> -- nice and easy to work with.

Something that will probably start happening around Thanksgiving or so. And I'm sorry to say that all work on QShogi has stopped for the time being, which makes me a touch sad because it's a fun game. I haven't even played Shogi on a board in weeks and weeks. It's all worth it, though.

And my wrists are feeling better after taking the last couple hours off and getting a massage (I love my girlfriend, thank you.)

User Journal

Journal: Hands of doom 20

Journal by Xerithane

3 weeks, and my projects tarball is 700k. About 200k is images. Do the math, and I am surprised I produced that much. Most is not auto-generated by anything (90%) so I have produced, in my estimates, about 400,000 characters in 3 weeks. That is a lot.

My wrists let me know that tonight. You can't index-type when coding, unfortunately. So, I'm curious what remedies you all can recommend. Unless you are buying, new equipment is out of the question. Also, typing less is right out.

Cheers, 70% feature-complete.

If it smells it's chemistry, if it crawls it's biology, if it doesn't work it's physics.

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