Sunday, February 26, 2012

Throwing up in politics

Rick Santorum makes me want to throw up.  Is that overly dramatic?  Perhaps, but it's a paraphrase of what this man himself is saying about an important aspect of our American political system.  He willfully lies when he says that the separation of church and state bans religion from the "public square."  Not satisfied with the Judeo-Christian principles that naturally influence our government because of its representative nature, he wishes to enforce his personal brand of Christianity on us all.

He's whining in interviews about how horrible it was that JFK had the gall to believe in the separation of church and state that is a basic tenet of our Constitution.  He cherry-picks a single line in a long speech, ignores the real meat in the rest of the paragraph (to say nothing of the whole speech) and generally puts a deceptive spin on the whole thing.

JFK essentially said that he wouldn't use church doctrine over US law in governmental decisions.  The only thing in that's even mildly off is the line that no "minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote" when of course the minister can say anything he wants.

Our representative democracy is by its nature affected by the mores of its citizens, at least of those who fulfill their responsibility to participate in it.  Those who do not trouble themselves to participate (by voting, campaigning, contributing, etc.) should at least acknowledge the cognitive dissonance they exhibit in complaining about a system in which they don't participate.  The effect of our collective mores is precisely the influence that religion is supposed to have.  We choose our representatives based on our expectation that they will represent our moral and political convictions within the framework of our republic.

Read JFK's speech.  All of it, not just the one line Santorum takes out of context and trusts that lazy Americans won't call him on.  Here's the paragraph that I think really troubles Santorum:

"I would not look with favor upon a President working to subvert the first amendment's guarantees of religious liberty; nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so. And neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test, even by indirection. For if they disagree with that safeguard, they should be openly working to repeal it."

Santorum only wants us to be "free" to observe HIS religion his way, because he considers any other theology "false" and dismisses it.  His is the kind of absolutism that prompted the founders to carefully form a union in which such religious tests and strictures are specifically prohibited.  You are free to believe as you wish, to discuss and promote it WITHOUT the force of government, but you simply cannot compel others to change theirs for your benefit, convenience or comfort.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Signs of Stupidity

Imagine if you will a snooty fast-food chicken joint.  At Montgomery Plaza in Fort Worth is a LEED-Certified Chick-fil-a and they apparently are making a big deal of that.  One would think, given the amount of documentation required for LEED certification, they might have had someone involved in the project who had some skill with written communication.

I pulled up in the rain to find only 3 parking spaces available, each with a sign like the one below in front of it.

I parked my Legacy GT Wagon in front of this sign.  I once saw 28 mpg highway with a 25 mph tailwind... normal highway is 24-25 mpg, but on average it returns close to 2x the mileage of my truck, so it's the fuel-efficient vehicle in MY fleet.  Since it's not a code issue, there's no force of law behind the stupid sign in the first place, but it IS private property... I guess they could leave a nastygram on the window.

I checked inside, there's nothing posted about what a "fuel-efficient vehicle" might be.  I didn't ASK of course, because I may have the opportunity to park there again and need to maintain plausible deniability.  I guess it's not that much worse than the "Expectant Mother" spaces at Central Market in Austin, but at least there's a definition of pregnant.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is this the iPod of photography?

Really what brought me back to my blog is the interesting Lytro "Light Field Camera" that was introduced a couple of days ago. What I wrote in the previous post is true... I've deleted a few drafts of posts because I was worried I'd be foaming at the mouth by the end of them, and to describe some of the thoughts I've had about various political stooges as "uncharitable" is an understatement of cosmic proportions.

Now, though, I've found something really interesting and cool that I want to babble about. This is the first really different camera since decent-quality video cameras got small enough to carry around anywhere. It's made possible by a quantum leap in both coding and processing power, allowing a personal computer and one small, elegantly simple camera do what just a few years ago took an array of cameras and some heavy-iron-level computing power to do.

Instead of taking a single point-of-focus photo like we've been doing for 150 years, the Lytro records all of the light getting to the sensor, grouped into "rays." Lytro says the image quality is "11 megarays" and the system uses post-processing to determine a point of focus from the field of rays. So, while in the system's native format, the images are "live." You can focus in on different parts of the field of view.

The camera itself seems very straightforward and has an elegantly simple design. It has a power button, a zoom slider and a button to record the image as well as some touchscreen functionality on the viewscreen. Aim it at what you want to photograph, perhaps zoom and compose a bit to get the overall contents of the shot right, click the button once and have the chance to decide what is and isn't in focus later. Now THAT is what I call a point-and-shoot! I can't wait to play with one. Perhaps this will be a device that shakes up the world of photography like the iPod changed the way we listen to music.

Idiot Derangement Syndrome

So lately I've been suffering from Idiot Derangement Syndrome... everything that seemed relevant to write about has been in the political sphere, and all of the idiots on both sides of the aisle get me a bit deranged when I try to write about their bullshit, so I've just avoided it. Maybe I'll get mad enough about something not to care that writing what I actually think of one pinhead or the other.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dim Debate on Light Bulbs

I'm a cynic, and frequently disappointed in politicians. That said, it's even more depressing than usual to see the ignorant Congresschimps throwing their feces on compact fluorescent light bulbs and shrieking about "freedom."

Are our elected officials stupid, or are they liars? Because the legislation they decry (signed into law by W, I might add) doesn't make incandescent bulbs illegal. It simply requires a minimum light output for a given electrical input. In the intervening years, amazingly enough, companies which manufacture light bulbs have introduced more efficient incandescent bulbs in addition to much-improved compact fluorescents and LEDs.

So, what was done was a rarity in legislation... instead of over-specifying and doing something stupid (as the lying bastards are TELLING you they have done) this legislation just said "You have to make light bulbs that are more efficient than the ones your grandfather used." And companies did just that, but your Congresschimps want to roll back the clock to 1950 in more ways than one.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Beck: Blathering Bean-brained Boob

Like my feelings about his BFF Bachmann, I have gone back and forth in my impression of Glenn Beck, trying to decide whether he's an insane paranoid, an intentionally evil liar or just irretrievably stupid.

Sometimes I think he's evil and completely in love with The Big Lie concept, but then I realize he doesn't understand it well enough to keep telling the same lie. Instead, he just comes up with bigger and weirder lies all the time, undermining his own (imaginary) credibility.

Now he calls the very intelligent and insightful Fareed Zakaria an idiot. I think I may have underestimated Beck... perhaps it's possible for him to be both irretrievably stupid AND innately evil.

Monday, February 14, 2011

License to Flash

Every time I attend a concert, I'm reminded of just how little people know about how cameras work. That in itself is really not a problem for anyone except the people taking crappy pictures, but then we must consider the flash.

I propose that we require that people demonstrate at least a minimal understanding about how the bloody flash works before they're allowed to carry a camera. How stupid do you have to be to think that the dinky flash on your cheap point-and-shoot is going to effectively illuminate the band 300 feet away from you? Does it not occur to you that thousands of dollars worth of incredibly bright spot lights might provide enough light for your snapshot without temporarily blinding everyone within 20 feet of your useless piddly micro-strobe? Or did you really want to get a nice exposure of the backs of the heads of people 1 and 2 rows ahead of you instead of taking a picture of the act you paid Ticketmaster $50 to see?

I guess if you're clueless enough that you can't figure out how to turn off your damned flash, you aren't smart enough to google "inverse square law" or understand the content of the search results.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Death and Taxes graphic

This is an interesting poster with a infographical representation of how the US Federal Government spends our money. Click through to view it on their site, because they have an excellent pan/zoom feature that's necessary to view the details.