Archive for August, 2010

False savings.

August 19, 2010

The English have a saying: “Penny wise, pound foolish.”.  The implication is simple to understand: to worry so much about saving on one thing that you end up spending far more. As a resident of Illinois, I’m getting a chance to see the saying in action.

Rod Blagojevich was once the governor of this state until he was impeached for trying to auction off the US Senate seat vacated by Barak Obama. The feds indicted him for this neat little bit of corruption, and after a long trial and a near-as-long jury deliberation, he was found guilty of one of the24 counts brought against him. The jury voted 11-1 in favor of convicting him on the other 23 counts, but one lone juror, for reasons I will not speculate on, voted no to these other counts. Almost as soon as the verdict was brought in, the federal prosecutor announced that he would retry Blagojevich on those 23 counts.

Shortly after that, the proof of that old English saying began to be demonstrated.

You see, federal trials aren’t cheap. How much they cost is open to debate, as the prosecutor’s office usually doesn’t break out how much individual cases cost. Blagojevich’s defense team, in one of their many press conferences both before and during the trial, threw out a multi-million dollar price tag for a retrial. That was enough to get the tax-protesting dopes to crawl out of the woodwork.

Within a very short time, you began to hear how a retrial “wasn’t worth spending the hard-earned taxpayer dollars” on. They should just let it drop, let a crooked politician walk with almost nothing against their name and what amounts to a slap on the wrist as far as actual jail time goes.

Aren’t these the same folks who howl, loud and long, about how we need to “hold politicians accountable”? If they aren’t willing to something like this, then how do they expect to punish other corrupt politicians, by simply waiting for the next election and (hopefully) voting them out of office?

That’d be sincerely stupid.

If you want criminals to pay for their crimes, you send them to jail, you fine them, or whatever. Any of these require you to take them to trial! Trials, in turn, cost money! (DUUUUUUHHHHHH!!!!!)

Blagojevich is, by all accounts, a criminal. Try him again, send a message that if you’re thinking about becoming a crooked politician, you’d better be worrying about how well you’ll do in prison. Above all, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re saving money by letting someone like this walk away, to get off scot free. Sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, there’ll be some other scumbag who’ll come along and try the same thing all over again, maybe more successfully. If that happens, we all loose, and a lot more than money, we loose any chance at an honest government. So don’t save a penny now so we can pay out in ponds later, just try Blagojevich again and send him down.

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America, tolerance, and our future.

August 16, 2010

I like to think that, given the years I’ve lived and the times I’ve lived through, that I’m not easily shocked. Well, I hereby stand corrected. You see, I’ve been watching the furor over the proposal to build a mosque in downtown New York City, and I honestly can’t think that any reasonable person would not be shocked by the way the entire sad event has played out.

Here are the facts: a group proposes to tear down an old textile warehouse and replace it with a mosque and community center. That it would face some resistance is almost to be expected, given the level of opposition that has been present in America to the Muslim faith since 9/11. That the location is within a few hundred feet of where the World Trade Center once stood, however, seems to have crystallized and focused all the resentment, the anger, and yes, the hate for Islam and the Muslim faith into this one site.

Now for the fallacies: there are people who claim this complex will be built on the “sacred” site of Ground Zero. That it is an “insult” to those who died in the fire and collapse of those twin towers after the aircraft crashed into them. That it represents a “victory” for the “enemies” of America.

These statements are all lies, no way around it.

That many people died on 9/11 is not a thing I dispute, nor that the place they died should be held in high regard. But the complex will not be on the site of the World Trade Center, but around a corner, not even in sight of the entrance to the structure itself. More troubling to me, though, is the fact that such a claim ignores the fact that among the people who died as a result of those airliners slamming into the World Trade Center were Muslims working IN those same buildings. Were they not victims too? Do they not deserve to be remembered? Would not the “insult” be to use the fact that those who killed them held a twisted version of their religion?

Perhaps the most insidious charge is the final one, that building a place where Muslims would be free to worship and to communicate with others is somehow a victory for the people who organized those terrible attacks. Perhaps the thing extremists like those who carried out the 9/11 attacks fear most about America is our freedom. In their world, everyone would follow one religion, there would be no questioning it, and the punishment for any transgression would be swift and terrible. America scares the hell out of that sort of person. Here, not only do people not have to follow a single religion, if they want to, they don’t have to follow ANY religion! How can they go around, telling folks how important it is to follow “the one true religion”, if in the richest, most powerful and most successful nation in the world, people can tell any religion to go to Hell? And, more to the point, nobody can say “Boo!” to them if they do. We, in our ideals, show the world the fallacy of the idea of “religious purity”. What the folks who are running around, foaming at the mouth and howling at the Moon over this “terrible idea” don’t seem to realize is that they are THE perfect recruiting tool for extremists! When we, as a nation, decide to trample on the freedoms of one group for the excesses of a few, we betray all the things we like to say we stand for. Someone once said that democracies never fall to outside forces, but those from within, I think they had people like the folks protesting this complex in mind. If we let them take fear and anger and shape it into a weapon to be used against people who want nothing but the same freedom we say we cherish, then we deserve to fail.

I hope we don’t. I hope we see through the fear-mongers, the hate spewers, the folks who need an enemy, a group to look down on, to make them feel superior. I guess I hope we will see that every group in this nation deserves the same respect we all take for granted. I also hope the scared folks who are listening to these headline-grabbing, self-serving demagogues see where they’re being led and turn away from those dark ideals these people preach. We are a great nation, but the more of us who don’t see that, the weaker we become. Here’s to a strong, freedom-loving America, long may it endure.

At cruising speed (at last).

August 9, 2010

Well, I’ve finally gotten into the world of high-speed Internet connections. After more than a few trials and tribulations, the Comcast folks and I managed to get my computer connected to a 12 Mbps feed to the rest of the world. It seems to work fine now, after some frustrating initial attempts to get it going, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t crap out anytime soon.

I have to admit it, accessing the net is now not nearly the challenge to my patience it had been of recent. Hell, even my MySpace account is behaving almost as though it were useful (though I still haven’t found the person I’d hoped to there).

There are a few fun moments, though. Like when I decided to take advantage of my new status as a ‘high-speed’ Internet person and watch an episode of one of my new favorite TV programs. Getting through the site wasn’t a chore, and getting to the section that dealt with the show I was interested in was actually almost easy. When I tried to actually view the program, though, I was informed that I needed the latest-and-greatest version of the Adobe video viewer loaded to do so. No problem, I think, I’ve got ‘high speed’ Internet, and the load will just take a moment!

Yeah, right……..

Click the link to okay the site to load the new software up, the computer chuckles away to itself for a few minutes, then a new message comes up, telling me that before the new software can load, I have to shut down a piece of software that’s interfering with it loading……said software just so happens to be my web browser!

Like I said before, yeah, right…….!!!!!

I have done some good with the new connection, such as update all my anti-virus software, and add some new tools to that particular arsenal to boot. One of those found a virus I’d long suspected I had, but could never find, so that is definitely A Good Thing. I even have hopes that the new capabilities will help me in my upcoming classes, as I might now be able to download some of the software I hear about somewhere besides in class, instead of just thinking about doing it.

“And so, another adventure begins. Who knows were it will bear our hero? Nobody, of course…..HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! (evil laughter, think from the sound track of the old radio show “The Shadow”).”

Further ‘high-speed’ adventures.

August 5, 2010

Well, the final piece of the puzzle arrived today, I was ready to get the new high-speed connection up and running. That “final piece” was a section of Cat 6 Ethernet cabling to connect the cable modem to the computer through a router. Get the cable, get it threaded around to where the modem will be at, call the cable company (Comcast), and let them know I want their lowest-priced “high-speed” Internet connection. No problem! They get my info, tell me I can get a self-install kit from my local outlet (and with it, I can save the$75 minimum it’d cost to have one of their techs do the work). Great, off to the Comcast outlet!

What was the line, “The best-laid plans of mice and men do oft go astray.”? Yeah, I ran into that. Or, put another way, Murphy came around and decided to keep me company. Either way, nothing seemed to go right.

I got into a fender-bender in the parking lot, and the guy who collided with me took off before the cops could get there to fill us out an accident report for our insurance companies.

Got the modem, got the car patched up enough to get home, got with the insurance agent, even managed to get an estimate.

Then, I got home…….

The installation took a lot longer than I’d thought it would, but it was fairly simple so it was just a case of taking the time to get it done. Then, time to drop the “install wizard” CD into my computer and let it do it’s thing.

Nope, it wasn’t.

Computer won’t automatically start up the install like it should, and when I tell the computer to take a look at the CD to see if it can find the proper program to invoke to start the installation process, it tells me that there’s nothing at all on the CD! I have another computer, which I fire up to see if it can find something. Yes, it says, there are programs on the CD (whew!), but when I fire the installation program up, well, it says it can’t access the modem!!!!!

Comcast, for it’s part, says it can’t do anything from their end, because of a “service issue” in my area, which means they can’t “see” the modem from their end. When will the “issue” be fixed, I ask? Oh, well, they’re not sure, but they’ll give me a call as soon as it’s all taken care of!

So, here I am, with new hardware setting around doing nothing yet again. I am beginning to wonder if Nature has decided I don’t need a high-speed connection to the Internet. I don’t know if that’s the explanation or not, but with this run of bad luck, I’m beginning to suspect Someone’s got it in for me……..