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    Wednesday, December 31, 2008

    A Holiday toast

    To friends, absent, present, and far away; to Peace, Prosperity and Happiness whenever and wherever we find them.

    Thursday, December 25, 2008

    A Very Merry Christmas!

    Christmas, and the holidays in general, were a little lighter than usual this year. Not only because of the economy but also because of time and health constraints. Lot's cards, email, smaller gifts and gift cards. Huzzah for gift cards!!

    We spent this Christmas eve with Nick, Holly, Jess and Ricky over at Nick's place. Holly made a very nice dinner and put out a large spread of food and goodies that kept us snacking and sipping all night. It was wonderful. We watched some very funny stuff Nick had and the old staple of the season "A Christmas Story" during it's annual 24 hour run. Everyone exchanged gifts and talked and joked and laughed the whole time. It was wonderful for me in particular because for the first time in too many years I had nothing to do but relax and enjoy. Nick and Holly clearly went to a lot of trouble and it was complete and wonderful in every detail. Eventually Gina was worn out so I brought her home and put her to bed.
    Christmas morning, for the first time in more than two decades, Gina and I slept in.
    Words cannot easily express how marvelous this simple luxury seemed to me.
    We got up around 9:30 and exchanged gifts with each other and had a little something to eat. She's still not feeling too great so I called and canceled my usual plans to visit my sister and her family today and we plan to spend the rest of Christmas day just relaxing.

    If this all sounds boring or mundane, that is precisely the point.
    For me, this is almost exactly and entirely what I wanted for Christmas this year.
    Sure, we miss Trystan and other distant family members. Especially we miss Talia and Nicholas (her Husband) and the grandkids all being so far away. However we sent them some very nice gift cards, some other stuff and spoke to them on the phone. They are all having a grand time, as little children always seem to do this time of year and everyone seems healthy. To ask for more than that seems too much.

    Now if we could only get Gina feeling a little better my Christmas would truly be complete.

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    A little good news

    There are few things as wondrous, as reassuring, as reaffirming of a positive sense of life, as the simple, safe birth of a healthy child to loving parents.

    Emily Rose Gulizia
    Born 3:26am 6 lbs, 12 oz
    20" long

    We wish her health, long life and all the best in all things.

    I'm dreaming of a light Christmas . .

    I'm dreaming of a light Christmas
    Not like the ones I used to know
    With my credit cards unused,
    My bank account less abused,
    And nowhere special I need to go

    I'm dreaming of a light Christmas
    With every email card I write
    May our wallets not be quite so tight
    And may all our holidays be light

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Up and about . . .

    Feeling a little better. Gina is still not feeling well. Now I have to run around and try to catch up on everything that needs to get done for the coming week. Laundry, cleaning, shopping, xmas shopping, yeah . . . I have no chance but I am constrained to try anyway and go down fighting.
    On the plus side . . . it's raining.
    Could be worse, this could have all been snow.
    I hope all my friends to the north are ok.

    Friday, December 19, 2008

    I feel terrible . . .

    Well the head cold I’ve been fighting off for the past few weeks has finally taken hold. I spent the whole day drifting in and out of consciousness. This is really bad. I missed work! I never miss work; I mean I can work remotely for crying out loud. Also with Gina not feeling well either, things are just a general wreck around here. On the plus side Jess stopped by today and spent some time with me, that was nice. Man, I hope I can shake this thing before the holidays.

    Majel Roddenberry

    Majel Roddenberry, widow of 'Trek' creator, dies.

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Fragile

    As I watch the implosion of civilization around me, I am struck by how fragile everything suddenly seems to be, regardless of the scale. Things once thought to be reliable are suddenly tenuous and uncertain. Governments, corporations and collectives at every level seem to be extremely frail. The common wisdom no longer holds true. We see the pillars of our existence, long taken for granted, suddenly standing on foundations of sand or thin, cracking ice. American automotive manufacturing, Newspapers, Wall Street titans and everything else are called into question as change continues to accelerate and new forms of transparency continue to show the Emperor's robes for the lies they have always been.
    Meanwhile, even on a personal and professional level, I have an increasing sense of helplessness. I feel increasingly isolated and swept up in events beyond my ability to control or even influence. More than this, problems I once addressed and moved quickly past, seem suddenly inscrutable and insurmountable. It feels like there is a failure in my ability to communicate, as if I am suddenly speaking some foreign, long dead language.
    On the other hand, I recently had the opportunity to upgrade my phone to a new Blackberry Storm. I find myself constantly amazed at how far these devices have come in such a short time. I continue to find new and subtle uses for this device to improve the overall quality of my life. For instance, I bought and installed the automotive mount and it's as if my entire car has been upgraded. It's all very ST:TNG! I know this throws everything I just said into stark contrast. I feel like I am more productive than ever, but I also feel like no matter how much I do, it will never be enough. I am a swimmer, who is at the very peak of his strength and form. I have never swum as fast or as fluidly as I do right now. However, I am swimming against the tide, on the crest of a swelling tidal wave.

    Tuesday, December 9, 2008

    Putting off the Kitchen repairs

    Well, I was working away on the Kitchen and as I started calculating the time I would need, and the time I had available, I realized something; I am not going to make it! So far I repaired the ceiling, rewired the outlets with GFI's, re-opened a walled over door, patched the walls and primed and painted. However, given the holidays and my schedule, there is no way I can get the rest done and I don't want to rush this. The good news is that, since it's just Gina and I, it's really no big deal and it helps to spread the cost over a longer period. I moved the Fridge out into the living room and just put everything else back in the kitchen nice and neat. After the holidays I'll pull it all back out and start again, no problem.
    If you're at the house just stay out of the kitchen!

    Monday, December 8, 2008

    Define: Highway Robbery -



    Pete asked me to pass this along.
    I got this and I laughed . . until I cried.

    Friday, December 5, 2008

    Buster takes his leave



    Well after many years of loyal friendship, Buster let us know today that it was time for him to move on. Needless to say we are heartbroken and will miss him very much. We knew this was coming, but that doesn't seem to help very much, and it's always too soon.
    As the kids are grown, and Gina and I are starting to be home less and less, I expect Buster will be the last dog I ever live with.
    Goodbye, old man.

    Getting ready . . .

    . . to say goodbye to an old friend.

    Thursday, December 4, 2008

    XMAS BONUS!!


    I just got my XMAS bonus. Sweet!! This will keep me treading water for another couple of weeks easy.

    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    Commerce and civilization as we know it

    . . . have been saved and I am home, logged in remotely, and will hopefully be asleep sometime soon. I used my own desktop to rebuild the dead system from scratch and that, plus some application specific know how and help from Doug, got us up and running again.

    Now, however, I'm facing a difficult situation here at home - of a very different nature; and then there's always the kitchen. No rest for the wicked, I suppose.

    . . .And we're back!

    After a quick trip home and a shower I am right back at it.

    Monday, December 1, 2008

    With my last breath . . .

    I curse Zoidburg! Just last night one of my good friends was telling me about a recent nightmare scenario where he was stuck at work for ungodly hours.
    Today it's my turn.
    One of our key systems is down and I am the guy who has to fix it.
    I've already been here more than 12 hours.

    Sunday, November 30, 2008

    Worked on the weekend all kitchen . . .

    . . . who am I again?

    Man, I need a shower and shave!

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Kitchenless for the Holidays

    This past weekend Gina had me pull the entire kitchen apart. The object here is to put it back together better than it was without spending much (read "any") real money. This is not a difficult as it might sound, mostly because the kitchen was in such a sorry state. I estimate that the last time this was done, it was done by my father, some 30 years ago. He did a good job and installed real wood cabinets (Thank goodness!) but, as I say, it was about 30 years ago. So, how to do it? When we have to buy things we are looking for green products, that are on clearance (of which there seems to be plenty!). We are doing all the work ourselves, using supplies and tools that we already have, and making up the difference with a lot of elbow grease. Stay tuned for more updates.
    Thankfully some good friends have invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday, so at least I don't have to worry about having to cook or anything.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Food for thought. Quote of the day:

    "AI's in the future will be able to recreate people from the information left behind about them if suitable backups of their brain were not made (in which case it would be straightforward). Neural nanobots would obtain all the available information about them from other people's brains. The AI would also consider all of the person's writings, pictures, movies, etc. Also their genetic code. And it could then create a person who would pass a Turing test for that person with their best friends as the judges. For that reason it is worthwhile keeping your own files -- letters, emails, photos, writings, etc.

    Is this recreated person the same person? It is an interesting question, but we could also ask today are we the same person as we were, say, a year ago. The recreated person by the AI is probably at least as close as we are to ourselves after some time passage."


    — Ray Kurzweil

    I know at least one person who would be furious to be "brought back" in such a manner.

    "A new age in surigical care." - Martin Birchall

    http://tinyurl.com/5arsod
    Read this and then really think about it. This is huge. Look at the time frames, four days for seeding, four days after implantation and you could hardly tell the old tissue from the new tissue, two months and she's breathing like normal!!!
    Wondering why Europe is WAY ahead of the United States on this? That's because of the idealogical and irrational stand against stem cell research that our current lame duck administration has taken. Please note this was not done with embryonic stem cells.

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    New Star Trek Trailer


    This movie scares the hell out of me. I have not dreaded the release of a movie like this since . . . well . . . ever. I have nothing clever on this, it's just such a huge step in the wrong direction. We have the Star Trek universe. All established and, you know, memorized by people like me . . . okay just me, but it's done, it's all fixed.
    Then they do three seasons of Enterprise, which didn't find it's legs until the third season, when it was already on the chopping block. Fine though, I can work this in.
    Now, I see these previews and they show Kirk really young and then the Enterprise being built and then (Bang!) he's on the bridge! He's in command!
    What happened to Christopher Pike? That whole Talos IV thing, the thirteen years Spock served on the ship before Kirk even came along. To say noting of Robert April from TAS thank you very much.
    Who the hell do these people think they are?
    I haven't been this mad since Star Trek V!
    Goddamn it!!!

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    WATCHMEN! HOTDAMN!!



    Man this looks good! I just hope they don't screw up the ending.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Tim Young's latest local book signing - Howell, NJ

    Check out the link here.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Outlook 2009 and beyond

    The Futurist has published their top 10 predictions.
    It's a pretty conservative list in my view.
    It doesn't take into account the rapid rate of change we're seeing on so many different fronts. The other night Patrick asked me to come up with a list of my own expectations and I've been thinking about it.

    First the disclaimers:
    All of this is, of course, wild speculation based on the assumption that we don't wipe ourselves out, or push our selves back into another dark age, or suffer some unforeseen natural disaster or ecological meltdown. I know that's a lot of assuming but just play along for now. Also I think it would be useful, and perhaps more entertaining, to use Science Fiction as a kind of short hand for getting some pretty complex and challenging ideas across.

    With all of that said let us speculate.
    In the near future we will see:


    Klingons and Vulcans: (Wait, come back here, I'm serious!) Well not Klingons from Qo'noS, and not Vulcans exactly, but humans who have elected to directly alter and enhance their physical appearance and health. As genetic engineering and bio-enhancement becomes more commercially viable people will no longer be limited to simple steroids. They will begin to use things like myostatin inhibitors and other much more advanced techniques to make themselves stronger, faster, smarter and so on. Some may even begin to splice DNA from other species into their own DNA just as people today experiment with recreational drugs, use steroids, get tattoos or piercings - and probably with about as much forethought. People will likely want stronger, more efficient heart and lung function, greater emotional control, higher metabolism, or enhanced vision or hearing, just for a few examples. Naturally these new changes will, by design, be inheritable in their off spring. Within a single generation, if for practical or aesthetic reasons, one of your parents decided to add a brow ridge or pointed ears . . . guess what? Now ask yourself how many changes we will see in two generations? Needless to say this will lead to whole new types of discrimination. Don't believe people will take these kinds of risk, take another look at the global sales figures for products like Viagra, Xanax, or Enzyte.

    As an aside, one of the complaints about Star Trek aliens has always been that they all look basically human with other parts added. Strangely enough though they may have gotten it right. I do not expect to see bipedal aliens landing on the mall in DC anytime soon. However I do think that we will see more extropians and trans-humans looking more and more like they stepped off of the set of one of any number of our more popular Science Fiction television shows.


    Artificial Life: We're not talking Cylons here, not yet anyway. However we will very shortly see the advent of artificial (designer) life. Built from carefully selected proteins and amino acids to have very specific qualities. These new lifeforms will have vast and dramatic commercial applications. For instance a form of life that can ingest carbon pollution and excrete usable fuel is being designed right now by JCVI right now.


    Star Wars style Droids:
    Robots designed for specific functions are already commercially available. Ask anyone who owns a Roomba.
    In the movie "I, Robot" we saw that there were several levels of AI. The androids had autonomous intelligence that was (for the sake of drama) co-opted and taken over by the central, much more powerful AI. My question is, if you have the central, really powerful AI, why bother with the autonomous android AI at all? Just let the central AI manage all the androids, all the time. All the androids need is the basic mechanics and firmware to manage their own extremities and few simple routines. That and the ability to have their software wirelessly updated and tailored as needed for specific applications (Paint the house, mow the lawn, wash the dishes, whatever). Any droid that fails to function properly can be monitored and shut down remotely using existing military grade GPS applications. Then other droids can even be dispatched to recover, repair or replace it. Robots can be any shape needed for any given function. Robot flying cars for everyone! Droid housekeepers and landscapers for all!


    The Borg: Don't think rows of Borg standing in regeneration chambers in the their Borg cubes here, think more along the lines of Seven of Nine.
    PDA's, and on line social networks are already leading to this. People will have the ability to be as connected as they like to various collectives - like their family, friends or co-workers. We are already moving past glasses and contact lenses that merely correct faulty vision into technology that enhances vision well past human norms or adds data augmentation and a VR overlay. To say nothing of changing the color of your eyes. If that means a few tech looking add-ons like the current bluetooth headsets - so be it! Don't think it will go this way? Consider the fact that, although it is seldom enforced, it is currently illegal to operate a car and a cell phone simultaneously without a bluetooth headset.


    Nanites: Self replicating, really small, machines that can build anything out of everything. Now we're talking! (We've seen these everywhere in Science Fiction from Star Trek to Stargate to Jake 2.0.) We're already on the cusp of a surge in three dimensional printing technology that will revolutionize retail as we know it. (Soon you won't need the item itself, just the file for the item and a 3D printer.) This is the step just after that where anything, (Including things made out of metamaterials and even more Nanites!) can be designed and assembled from the molecular level up. The commercial and medical applications speak for themselves and are already funding advances in this technology at a spectacular rate. Talk about green, imagine physical object that only exist on an as needed basis. Their component elements completely reclaimed and reused again and again. Swarms of nanites swimming through your blood repairing cell damage, hunting down cancer cells or just maintaining muscle tone and flexibility without the need for dieting or exercise.


    True AI: This is the big one as it informs and augments all the others. You want to really make use of all of those droids and nanites? You want to splice or tweak genes without giving yourself cancer? You need to crack this one. Right now we have very specific, simple forms of artificial intelligence that do things like play Chess, play Checkers, monitor the stock market, and so on. I call these types of AI, virtual intelligence or VI to separate them form the true, general or strong, AI that is lurking right around the corner. To look at the progress of VI all you need to do is look at the progress being made in autonomous driving. However that kind of AI is very task specific and,as Dr. Ben Goertzel points out, is notoriously difficult to adapt to anything except what is was originally designed to do. The chess program, for instance, is never going to play Backgammon with you. It has no ability to expand on it's own parameters or adapt what it knows about playing Chess to any other endeavor. True AI will have these abilities and will, very rapidly from a human perspective, redesign itself to solve a number of problems and limitations. Both for itself and for us. Will it be Skynet (like in the Terminator Franchise) and decide to wipe us out. No. There are several very good reasons why this is not the case but they are outside the scope of this article. What is not outside the scope of this article however is another set of observations and they are first, and again from a human perspective, if you have enough VI it has the same effect as True AI and second, it's only a mater of time before the good folks working on true AI design a VI to help them get it done sooner rather than later. Probably much sooner.

    Once we have True AI (or enough VI) all bets are off. Our problems will no longer be driven by concepts such as supply and demand, but rather by the limits of our own imagination and character . . but that's another topic.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    First Generation Shields Now in Development



    Deep space travel gets one step closer.

    "Computer simulations done by a team in Lisbon with scientists at Rutherford Appleton last year showed that theoretically a very much smaller "magnetic bubble" of only several hundred meters across would be enough to protect a spacecraft."

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    Just can't get enough!!!

    Welcome to the twenty first century.

    That was really something. We watched until just after 1:00 AM and then I called it a night and went to bed and slept the sleep of the just.
    Thanks to everyone who came over and made the night special. Years from now we will remember last night and where we were and who we were with. From the tears in Patrick's eyes when President Elect Barack Obama officially won, to the tears in mine during his victory speech, we were all moved.
    McCain's speech was very gracious, but many of us will not easily forget nor forgive the tactics that he and his supporters employed throughout his campaign. The same goes for Hillary.
    I hope that those who, out of ignorance, fear and hate are nay saying this historic victory and overwhelming mandate from the people, will take a moment to reassess their fundamental assumptions. You are wrong and you always have been.
    To those of you who are saying smugly "He won't live to see the end of his first term . . ." "Not that I hope that anything happens, but . . ."
    You are despicable cowards. You have already lost. Nothing that happens after this will change that. Your fear and anger make you weak and will not save you. Your compassion might. To the most hardcore among you, who are looking to forward to Palin in 2012, heh, that's a really good idea, I think you should go with that!

    I hope that the overwhelming national losses among Republicans will spell another chapter towards the end of the entire socially conservative movement as a national force and relegate it to fractured, powerless, regional aberration and eventual, ultimate death.
    Welcome to the twenty first century, we can no longer afford to indulge your obfuscation, intolerance, superstition and ignorance.
    If this sounds a little harsh, good, it is meant to be.
    The future is here, now! From here we will see more change on more fronts, coming faster and faster, the likes of which most of you literally cannot imagine.
    Buy a helmet and buckle up!

    Finally in light of all of this I hope that, now that this battle has been won, I can post fewer political items and more about the rapid advance of change that is my primary interest here on my blog.

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Here we go!



    Okay, for the next 24 to 48 hours everything will be under this post, so refresh early and refresh often.

    Earlier I posted that the Obama sign in my yard had been stolen. Well, yesterday it happened again. Luckily I was prepared and had a spare sign ready to go. So to the person who keeps stealing my yard sign - YOU ARE AN UN-AMERICAN COWARD!!!

    I am live on Twitter and will try to stay there as much as I can for the next few hours.

    6:52 AM Up Early and headed out to VOTE!!! "YES, WE CAN!!!"

    7:15 AM The deed is done!!! Small lines and no trouble this morning. Gina went with me and this was her first time voting.

    I for one am very glad to have been wrong in my predictions that these elections might have been suspended for some emergency. Now to make plans to attend the inauguration.

    This is looking more and more like a landslide of biblical proportions. All of the evidence is anecdotal so far . . . but still.

    We're seeing a lot of Voter problems and people are starting to panic.
    Then I got this from Patrick:


    The suspense is killing me over here!!!

    5:19 PM Okay, I am home and watching the coverage. What are we doing to food around here?

    Fox news (Yes I monitor Fox news too) Exit polls
    New Voters-------OBAMA----McCain
    Indiana-------------73%------27%
    Ohio----------------69%------31%
    Virginia------------63%------36%

    Not sure what to think of this, it may be a tactic by the Republicans to skew the exit polls, but if true it would indicate . . . 40 STATES!!!!

    7:58 PM Man, this is tighter than I hoped it would be.
    Let's see what happens next.

    9:24 PM They just called Ohio for Obama and Pat and Chris are exchanging high fives and saying it's over.

    10:00 PM God answers Palin's prayers; "No," God says.

    11:02 PM IT'S OVER!!! WE WON!!! CHAMPAGNE all around here at Chateau Elysium!
    BUSH you are FIRED!!!

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, . . ."
    - Declaration of Independence

    "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
    - Martin Luther King Jr.

    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    "YES, We CAN!!!" NOW!!!

    This in from Brigid Fitch:

    "'The cellphone polls have Obama ahead by an average of 9.4 points; the landline-only polls, 5.1 points.'"

    "I’ve been phone-canvassing for Obama for the past 3 weeks and all of my calls have been landlines.  Of the 150+ calls I’ve made, I’d say 65-70% are for Obama, if they are to be believed.  I’m still very much aware of the Bradley Effect, so remain cautiously optimistic.  Until the results start coming in on Tuesday, I’m going to keep hammering away at the phones. 

    "Truth be told, I’ve NEVER been this involved in an election of any sort.  But this year, I’m so polarized that I’ve donated over $500 to various Democratic candidates—Obama, Hagan, Franken, and Tinklenberg.  I’m volunteering for Obama and have weathered such responses as being called a n*gger-lover, a terrorist, baby-killer, and socialist.  It’s incredible how far the Republican Party has sunk.  They’re left with nothing more than the right-wing fundamentalists whose only news outlet is Fox.  It’s downright scary.  I feel the moral need to thwart them any way I can; there’s no reasoning with them.  The FoxNews-ites all shout the same thing:  Joe the Plumber, socialism, terrorist, Muslim, birth certificate, ACORN, and Rev. Wright.  I point out that McCain gave Khalidi almost $450K and it falls on deaf ears.  I mention that no litigation against ACORN has yet to be put through and that McCain attended a 2006 rally and I’m branded un-American.  I tell them that Obama’s tax plan is essentially a roll-back of Bush’s policy and that they’d get the same deal they did under the Clinton years and I’m told I’m a fascist.  There’s no turning the right-wing fundie base, but it hurts no less when you come across them.

    "By all realistic accounts, Obama has this election in the bag.  The only way he’ll lose is if those of us who are sick of Bush’s policies DON’T go out and vote.  Complacency is our enemy, not McCain.  If PA and VA go blue on Tuesday, Obama will be declared the next president by 8:15.  But that’s only going to happen if everyone gets out there and VOTES." 

    Brigid Fitch
    ___________________________________________
    Meanwhile, I also went over the local call center and made some calls for Barack and the Democrats this Saturday morning. I had honestly forgotten how much I hated working phones. Anyway, I am very optimistic about how this whole thing is going to shake out.
    When you're looking at the polls be sure to check the dates. A lot of those deep red state polls are over a month old!

    Pro Obama - Election Night Party

    Tuesday after 6:00 PM, at my house.
    Basically the plan is, if Obama wins I'm getting drunk.
    If McCain wins I am going to get really drunk! (Seriously, we're talking stomach pumps and probable hospitalization here.)
    We're going to have snacks, drinks, TV, Internet,  more drinks, and a full night of election coverage.
    Stop by (AFTER you Vote!) and watch history unfold, I'm betting Obama wins by a landslide.

    35 to 40 STATES!!!

    Friday, October 31, 2008

    Happy Halloween!!!

    Pumkins





    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    The word “Landslide”


    Gets thrown around a lot these days, but after watching Barack Obama’s infomercial tonight it is my view that the Democrats should get the House, the Senate and the White House in this election cycle and that Republicans  . . . should get a 30 second head start. 


    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Happy Birthday to an old friend.


    We were friends before most of you were born!
    All the best and many, many more!!!

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    What is best in life?


    "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women. "
    - Conan the Barbarian

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Maryland Renaissance Festival 08 Final Day

    This past Sunday we made a day of it down at the Ye Old Revel Grove.
    Here are just a few quick shots. Patrick was also with us but I don't have any good group shots yet. I still have to check Gina's Camera and other are sending me some as well, however these certainly give you the gist. 



    This photo by Jess

    Some call him "Pete".





    This photo also by Jess.

    It was a brisk day, and got downright cold after sunset, but a good time was had by all.

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Ignorance, Fear, Hate - Naked

    "The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear."
    - Gandhi

    "Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them… We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant."
     - Karl Popper, "The Open Society and Its Enemies"

    "A Rattlesnake, if cornered will become so angry it will bite itself.  That is exactly what the harboring of hate and resentment against others is - a biting of oneself.  We think we are harming others in holding these spites and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves."
     - E. Stanley Jones

    Patrick has sent over the following:

    "This woman is a fucking disgrace to her office.  http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=385x218085
     
    "I think these people are really, truly terrified that they won't be calling the shots anymore, and twenty years of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Fox News, the Washington Times, Focus on the Family, the whole wingnut support network has really putrefied, and the syphilitic invective and fear they spurt has really eaten holes into the brains of these people.  These people have taken counsel of their darkest, innermost fears and prejudices, and are reinforcing and encouraging one another's insanity and ugly, black, despicable hatred.  It's going to be a hundred times worse for President Obama than it was for President Clinton.  Think back to the 1990s, when people seriously, literally believed that Bill and/or Hillary Clinton had former friends murdered with fake suicides and convenient plane crashes, when they called Bill Clinton a serial rapist who used the Secret Service as a Praetorian Guard to silence or abduct women who wouldn't keep quiet about (or their pets, as one deranged woman claimed), when they believed the Clintons to be pawns of the Trilateral Commission/Bilderberger Group/Bavarian Illuminati/New World Order that was going to cede American sovereignty to hordes of United Nations foreign soldiers who would swoop down in black helicopters to occupy God-fearing Midwest and Southern towns.  I think we're going to win the White House, and make strong gains in Congress, but the 29 percenters, the people who still like Dubya and adore Sarah Palin, the people who think Jeremiah Wright is a danger to America but who think Christian terrorists like James Kopp and Eric Rudolph are agents of the Lord, are going to get dumber, and crazier, and a lot more dangerous.  I fear we're going to see a resurgence of the militia movement, and more abortion clinic bombings and more doctors murdered; I think we're going to "Mainstream Media" reporters physically attacked or killed (one was assaulted at a McCain/Palin rally in NC recently), and I think we're going to see actual by-God hate rallies occur more and more often.  These people suffer from a serious, cancerous dearth of character, and that cancer is going to metastasize after November 4.
     
    "Rep. Michele Bachmann's opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg, is behind in the polls, but Bachmann herself is barely treading water, with a paltry 42 percent in the most recent poll.  There's a big effort now to push the above video around the blogosphere to highlight this appalling person's paranoid crypto-fascist views, and I understand that Tinklenberg has pulled in over $30,000 in contributions from around the country since this show was broadcast.  For a House race, that's serious money, and it can make or break a campaign.  So this is my plea for you guys to look at her disgusting remarks calling for loyalty pledges and McCarthyist investigations of American liberals, and consider sending Elwyn ten bucks, or twenty or fifty.  And please forward to this to whomever you know who might be receptive to such an appeal."
     
     - Patrick

    Tinklenberg '08: http://www.tinklenberg08.com/

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    YES WE CAN!!!! HOPE! VOTE! OBAMA 08!!!

    Patrick just sent this over and it is simply too good not to share.





    Happy Birthday!!!


    To an old friend.
    Remembering the U.S.S. Integrity NCC-2112, Xenadria, and all the rest.
    All the best Brian.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Debate Night 3

    A little live debate blogging here tonight. I am watching the pre show right now with Patrick.

    "I think McCain's only chance is to play the Robin Williams card and show up tonight dressed as George Washington." - Frank

    Patrick - "Ah, the second in command of Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been killed  . . . again."
    Frank -  "Man that spot is like being an Admiral under Darth Vader."

    McCain is flailing. "Joe the Plumber?" what the hell are you talking about?

    Finally, "That says more about you than it does about me!" I've been waiting forever for him to say something like that.

    Bob Schieffer keeps giving the last word to McCain.

    Hey Bob, are you going to give Senator Obama the last word at least once tonight? At least make a pretense of being impartial? Just wondering. -Patrick

    "Joe the Plumber" returns!! - Patrick



    From the Daily KOS

    Well that's it. McCain came on strong, but I think Obama took it overall.
    Patrick thinks Obama won by a wide margin.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    General Update

    We are setting course for the MD Renaissance Fair this coming Sunday, for the final day of the fair, and the infamous 'day of wrong'. The weather looks to be clear but cool so, if you're planning to join us, dress warm and wrong.

    Meanwhile, here is picture of our granddaughter being cute.

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    PA Renaissance Festival

    We spent the whole weekend at the PA fair this past weekend. Jess and Ricky joined us for Saturday. Gina and I got a room at a local Hotel and stayed for both days.  We picked up some new costume pieces and much needed supplies for the rest of the year. Here are a couple of shots in no particular order.

    Gina looking quite the sexy pirate.



    Here is my new friend Alisa of the Silk Road Gypsies who tells me she has no formal training.
    If you ever see them play, you will understand my confusion on this point.


    First some drinking and then some pillaging with the crew of The Intruder.



    Don't ask.

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Upcoming Tim Young Book Signings


    He'll be signing books at the Borders on 32nd Street and 2nd Ave in New York City on October 9th from 3:30 to 6 pm. Afterwards he is meeting friends at The Ginger Man on 36th Street.
    Come on down.

    He also has a new booksigning at the
    Barnes & Noble in Holmdel, New Jersey on Saturday, October 11th from 11am until 1pm.

    More events in October.

    • He's reading and signing books at the Borders in Annapolis Md. at Storytime,

    October 23rd at 10:30am.

    • He's reading and signing books at the Barnes and Noble store at the Power Plant in Baltimore Md from 12 to 2pm on October 25th.

    Don't forget to check www.ImLookingForAMonster.com for more info and where to buy the book online.

    Friday, October 3, 2008

    Meanwhile in Iraq

    This came in from Patrick, and I think it's worth passing on. I truncated it just a little bit, but otherwise it's intact.
    ______________

    "The Sunni transition in Iraq has begun. Starting Wednesday, the first groups of Sunni paramilitary fighters - mostly former insurgents who formed the Sahawat Al-Anbar, the Awakening Movement (jokingly called by some American commanders the 'Very Worried Iraqis') - will now be paid, and more importantly, commanded, by Baghdad, by PM Maliki and his Shia-dominated government.
    (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iraq2-2008oct02,0,6057110.story
    )

    "I have been talking about this for some time, and what I am reading has me quite worried. We're talking at least 100,000 guerillas - let's call them what they are, a guerilla army, legitimized by their willingness to be bribed by the US - who will now report to a regime that has stated unequivocally that it intends to shut them down, that their existence will not be tolerated. A fraction of the Sahwa will be absorbed into the New Iraqi Army - I've read from 10 to 20 percent - where they will either be given their own segregated units which will be notoriously unreliable, or, they will be doled out piecemeal to Shia-majority units in the hope of diluting their effectiveness as a parallel force. The rest will supposedly be 'retrained' as carpenters, bricklayers, sewer workers, etc. Supposedly. Eventually.

    "Honestly, I have trouble seeing how Maliki avoids a replay of the Bremer debacle from 2003, when our viceroy unilaterally dissolved the Iraqi Army, thanks guys, go on home, take your weapons with you. Tens of thousands of Sunni guerillas, most of whom had little love for Americans to begin with, are going to be told to hand in their Kalashnikovs and pick up shovels and saws. Of course, strength in numbers was all that kept them from being targeted by the hardcore Sunni insurgents, AQI and their remaining allies; now that's gone. And cooperation with America is what kept the Sahawat leaders from being prosecuted for their prior activities (which is to say, their terrorist attacks), and Maliki's government is planning to go after many of these leaders as soon as America isn't paying attention. AND, the Awakening movement is undoubtedly riddled with AQI moles and sympathizers, Sunnis who couldn't give a fuck about imposing Sharia but who see America on its way out the door and are looking to close ranks as the threat of Shia oppression looms in the near future. It's all Realpolitik for them now. For many Sunnis, working with the Americans was always a short-term game, to keep Baghdad off their backs and to fleece the US armed forces for as much money and arms they could.
    (Actually, our own homegrown gangs are doing the exact same thing:
    http://usmilitary.about.com/od/justicelawlegislation/a/gangs.htm
    )

    "The Sunnis feel they are being abandoned by us, and they will have almost no reason to cooperate with Maliki, and every reason to rejoin the insurgency. And the insurgency will welcome them back with open arms.

    "The war is still simmering, notably in Diyala province (north of Baghdad province), which has become the new 'capital of the insurgency,' or at least a major center of it. And it looks like the war is creeping back into Baghdad again: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jWpQ6MGl2vO59ghFNu8C1nbj9XSA.

    "How will the influx of 80,000 well-trained, well-armed, furious and very worried Sunni fighters into the situation affect Iraq? Are we looking at a violent reaction to the 2006-2007 ethnic purges of Baghdad province that saw the Shia kill thousands of Sunni Baghdadis, and drive hundreds of thousands into exile?"
    __________

    with thanks to PNG

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    Senate Approves Bailout - with a side of Pork!

    "In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit."
                – Ayn Rand

    "Calm, thinking villains, whom no faith could fix,
    Of crooked counsels and dark politics."
                - Alexander Pope, Temple of Fame 


    Delia Surridge: "You're going to kill me now?" 
    V: "I killed you ten minutes ago while you slept."

                - V for Vendetta

    So, let me get this straight? Some Republicans don’t think the Economic Rescue Package (AKA: The Bailout) is a good idea and will not vote for it. Period! They have drawn a line in the sand and taken a stand.

    “This is a matter of principle. It’s too much money. We can’t put that kind of burden on the tax payers, and our children
      . . . unless of course you tack on a few more bucks for us!”

    . . .

    “I’m sorry. What was that last part?”

    “We want our cut, not too much; another 150 Billion ought to do it. Then we’ll vote for it.”

    . . . 

    Wow!!!

     . . .

    I mean just when you think nothing else they can do will surprise you.
    Where does this leave us? You might be inclined to ask. Well, I don't know. 
    It seems like the only thing worse than this passing this plan is not passing this plan. 
    A seemingly legitimate case of "Do something, even if it's wrong." 
    We'll do this, and um, fix it later if it doesn't work. 

    "We have come together in unprecedented bipartisan cooperation, to pass this historic bill, and make sure we all get our cut! 
    Congratulations
     to us!"

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Solar Cell Sets Record at 40.8 Percent Efficiency

    This is a really big deal. I remember talking to Collins about this a while back and the big problem with large scale solar power has been the low efficiency vs. the cost. These kind of breakthroughs change the playing field and make it more and more practical. 

    http://www.electricalengineer.com/index.php?option=com_zippynews&id=236&task=detailnews&cid=

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    More notes from the edge

         “Rumors went spreading through the country in whispers of cynical terror–yet people read the newspapers and acted as if they believed what they read, each competing with the others on who would keep most blindly silent, each pretending that he did not know what he knew, each striving to believe that the unnamed was the unreal. 
     - Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)
     

       "You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. You have said it yourself, half in fear, half in hope that the words had no meaning. You have cried that man's sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster.“
     - Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)

    “This is like Science Fiction. It’s just like ‘Atlas Shrugged’ in reverse, where the right has deregulated us into this mess. And their solution, when this happens, is to turn around and say ‘You needed to deregulate more, you didn’t go far enough.’ – Patrick Flanagan
    __________________________________
    Here we are on the edge of the actual precipice, staring into the actual void of financial ruin and collapse. And what do we see? Well, there’s the bail out package, and while that might help, in the short term, after looking into this as deeply as I could, I am convinced that it will only postpone the inevitable. There are lots of articles out there detailing the collapse so I won’t talk about that. Needless to say it’s really, really bad. In response we’re nationalizing loss and privatizing profits. Add to the situation two wars, a few natural disasters and, well, as I say, here we are. We’re not looking at any mere variety of recession; we’re talking about a total global depression. The Great Depression 2, a sequel of sorts, just like the first one sans the whimsy.

    Of course people are in denial about this. No one wants to come out and say what I’ve just said, but that’s the case. The truth is we can’t borrow our way out of this mess. Also it’s not that we need more regulation. The regulations already exist; they were simply not enforced. So the bailout won’t work, more regulations won’t work, what will work?

    Lowering and locking interest rates on all existing loans? Nationalizing the Banks? Seizing the profits and international holdings of certain companies and then nationalizing them? Or how about wiping out all exisitng debt and just starting over?

    I don’t know, but I am buying lots of non-perishable goods
     . . .
    and maybe a gun.

    Saturday, September 27, 2008

    Forwarding a message for Bob Greenberger

    A Boogie Knights Charity Event

    The Boogie Knights, in conjunction with the Musical Artists Theatre, will be giving a rare charity concert, proceeds of which will go, in memory of our squire Robbie Greenberger, to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer 

    Here are the details:

    WHEN: 8PM Saturday 8 November, 2008

    WHERE:
    Riverside Stage - located in the basement of 
    Salem Lutheran Church 
    1530 Battery Avenue
    Baltimore, MD 21230-4615

    ADMISSION: $10

    Where else can you find a full evening of Boogie Knights live performance for less than the cost of a CD --and-- have it benefit charity as well?


    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Blogging the Debate

    This is a joke. 
    McCain seems to be reciting his stump speech in random order.

    Now McCain has hit his stride and is doing pretty well.
    Obama seems to be holding his own but it looks like McCain is driving the conversation.

    Obama is calling him on his many distortions but he's not leading the conversation and he needs to stop saying "Senator McCain is absolutely right" and then telling us why he's wrong.

    "Spain" - Now Obama is turning it up a little bit.


    Well, in the end, it looked pretty close to me. 
    I really wanted Obama to do better than he did but it was more of a draw.



    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    Pirate Weekend in MD in Danger

    Sensors indicate the weather in Crownsville, Md is going from bad to worse for this weekend.
    As you all know, I really look forward to this every year, but I don't know about this.
    We may need to change course to Pa, or call the whole thing off.
    Updates as they happen.
    I just checked and all three locations NY, PA and MD look like a washout for this weekend. 

    I'll keep you posted from here.

    That's it, we're calling it off.
    We're looking into next weekend.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Frank's excellent Staycation!

    Ha! My spellchecker just threw up.
    I have taken off this week to just work around the house and relax. Of course I'm getting caught up watching the financial meltdown of our society. I feel like a Roman citizen looking out to the hilltops and wondering what all those Visigoths are up to.

    Obama 08 BABY!!!!

    Meanwhile I’m trying to take care of myself. I walked two miles this morning and plan to spend the rest of the day working in the yard. Yesterday I spent caring for the dog. Buster is hanging in there. He had a nice long bath and some serious grooming and later went to the vet.
     Now has some new medicine to make him more comfortable and I’m out a couple of Franklins. Oh well.

    If you’re around, stop by and you can help me close the pool or something.

    Sunday, September 21, 2008

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    More pictures from our recent trip to Mount Hope

    A little interaction with the locals.

    The Crew.

    The Silk Road Gypsies
    They are great.


    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Notes from the edge of the void.

    Is it just me or has the information overload really started in earnest?

    Between Lehman Brothers, AIG, the wars, the elections, terrorist attacks, Ike, Bad Chinese food and so on it just seems to me like the media does not have enough time between ads to even get the headline across.

    Meanwhile some random thoughts:

    If you go to Tibet and look for a hermit just coming out of ten years of isolation and meditation, you might find someone who had less to do with the development of the Blackberry than John McCain! Also, it's not a miracle, I object to that term, it's a technological tool, you knucklehead.

    I am an American worker. I am not a "fundamental" (or even a fundamentalist).
    As out of touch as we thought John McCain was, it's even worse than that.

    A short note to all the undecided voters out there;
    ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
    REALLY????
    HOW DO YOU DECIDE TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE IN THE MORNING???

    If you are not a die hard Republican, and after really looking at the situation and comparing the candidates, and their vice presidential candidates, you are still on the fence - you are a RACIST numskull!!!!

    As an aside, if you are only voting for Obama because he's black, you are ALSO A RACIST.
    You're just as much of a numskull as the other folks!


    Today was the day people in the media stopped talking about "Recession" and started talking about "Depression".

    Has anyone jumped out of any windows on Wall street yet?

    This race is going to come down to the wire, and I'm not talking about politics here, I'm talking about our survival.

    I wonder when they will announce the suspension of this election?
    I can hear it now "In these uncertain times within our financial markets and in light of the recent natural disasters . . . temporary, indefinite, suspension of the election process until the situation stabilizes."





    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    Shore Leave Away Team

    A picture truly worth a thousand words. 
    This was a great day for me, and for the others as well,
    I believe. 
    We all had some much needed R&R at the Mount Hope, PA Renaissance Fair. 

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Two links on the LHC from Pete

    Cool Pictures: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/08/the_large_hadron_collider.html

    And perhaps the most informative site on the web:
    Has the
    LHC destroyed the Earth? http://www.hasthelhcdestroyedtheearth.com

    Looking at them assembling the components and so on, I swear it looks to me like they are building a warp engine.