Thursday, November 30, 2006

15 simple rules for getting your girlfriend to play D&D

I ran across this on techrepublic.com and it reminded me of the days when a bunch of us would get together and play the odd game here and there. Or the weekend marathon champagnes (a word of caution, Jack Daniel's and D&D don't mix well).

I've been toying with the idea of trying to start up a little game or two. The only problem is, like with everything in life, scheduling it. It's not easy to get more than 2 people to agree on a date and time for something like this. It'll probably just have to be family for now. It'd still be fun though.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Overloaded pea brain

There's a bunch of things rolling around in my head lately. Things of interest to anyone/everyone and things if interest only to myself. I just haven't been able to get anything congealed enough to put down here. Lots of random thought whizzing by like gnats. Like Byron "Whizzer" White past a linebacker. I seem to be stuck in the mud or something. My wheels are spinnin' bit I'm goin' no where.

One good thing that happened recently is that I was able to buy a lightweight standard wheelchair. I got it from wheelchairinabag.com. I have the electronic chair I got off of eBay a while back but until I can find someway to transport it it's only good for in the house and out in the neighborhood. This one at least allows me to go out to things like dinner at a restaurant or a move or something. It's already made a big difference and might let me be semi-sociable again. Not that I have that much of a problem with being a reclusive hermit.

At least my son continues to excel in school. He's really doing fantastic.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thankful for recovery

Man, it's a good thing Thanksgiving is only a one day thing. Can you imagine having 3 or 4 days of eating like that? I'm finally recovered, more or less, and ready to take on the next big task. That will be my son's birthday in mid December.

I better get back to bed. I keep nodding off at the keyboard. ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bruce Schneier on electronic voting

Voting Technology and Security: Last week in Florida's 13th Congressional district, the victory margin was only 386 votes out of 153,000. There'll be a mandatory lawyered-up recount, but it won't include the almost 18,000 votes that seem to have disappeared. The electronic voting machines didn't include them in their final tallies, and there's no backup to use for the recount. The district will pick a winner to send to Washington, but it won't be because they are sure the majority voted for him. Maybe the majority did, and maybe it didn't. There's no way to know.

Believe it or not this has been an issue for over 7 years. Everyone should read Bruce's Crypto-Gram and get a true idea of how tenuous our security and liberties are. He's no alarmist nor a fanatic. He's a rational, sane expert on security and all things related to it. His insights into Homeland Security and terrorists threats are extremely insightful and eyeopening. And don't think that his stuff is only applicable to the US. It might be a bit US centric but the information in his newsletters is applicable worldwide.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Article I of the Constitution of Virginia - Hate voted into law

While most people only care about who got elected to what position, there is a lot more that happens during an election. Many bonds bills and updates to city, county and state laws are also voted on. In Virginia one such update was to Article I of the Constitution of Virginia.
Ballot Question #1:
Shall Article I (the Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to state:
"That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.
This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage."
Just your typical no gay marriages rhetoric, right? No, not exactly.

See, gay marriage has been illegal in VA for over 30 years. One would think that this amendment would be superfluous. If it's already illegal why vote on this amendment? Well, the new amendment doesn't change the legality of gay marriage one bit. It does, however, greatly restrict the rights and privileges of all unmarried couples. It effectively removes protection from unmarried domestic violence victims and will deny unmarried couples the right to make agreements to protect their families. i.e. Wills and Trusts.

This amendment opens the door to allowing the removal of previously existing rights for all unmarried couples. Rights such as making legal agreements for the guardianship of their children and to give the loved one of their choice the right to make medical and end of life decisions for them.

This is so much more than a Gay Rights issue. On November 6th, Virginia was known as the first governing body in the world to create a bill of rights that guaranteed each citizen individual rights against the government. After November 7th, it is now one of many to have taken away much of these rights.

As for me, I still don't understand it all. There is no logical, rational, sane reason to deny Gay's the right to marry. If a particular religion doesn't allow for it that's all fine and dandy but there's no reason what-so-ever to apply the same restrictions in the civil/legal world.

See http://www.votenova.org for more info

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The New Blogger Blog

I've gone a head and switched to the new Blogger Beta that is up. So far so good. There's one significant new feature they've added that I want to try and make use of. It's the ability to put labels on posts. Kinda like categories but more flexible, I think. The only other thing I need to check is the rating feature thingy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I wish we could overthrow our government

No, I'm not talking about becoming a Militant militia member and arming myself for the coming revolution.

Yesterday was election day here in the good ol' USofA. For the last few weeks we have been inundated with TV ads and automated phone calls telling us how voting for this one or that one will make live wonderful or plunge the country into hell. The bulk of the ads were those that are characterized as "negative attack ads." These are ads that hammer on how the opponent is a liar and cheat and will do everything in their power to make life miserable for us. One major exception was the adds for Michael Steel. He was running for something (Senate, I think) in Maryland. His ads were all about the actual issues, were very intelligent and didn't go about calling his opponent the reincarnation of the devil.

But there were two ads I heard that took the complete opposite road. While both of these were for Democratic candidates, there is likely plenty of the same from the opposite camp. The first one had three different Democratic politicians liken the election of the Republican candidate to turning the clock back to the racial confrontations of the late 50's and early 60's in the south. "If you thought the dogs and fire hoses in the sixties were bad...". They didn't imply, they outright stated that all of the racial inequities and segregation would return.

Another ad had the voices of a woman, young man and a little girl saying that they were either in a accident or had some genetic ailment. If the Republican candidate were to be elected they would all be dead because of the opposition of stem cell research. They asked if it was right that the candidate be aloud to decide if they should live or die. They said they were your mother or son or granddaughter and if the Republicans won they would all die.

There's two points these adds bring out. First, is there really anyone so absolutely stupid, so completely idiotic that they could actually believe these ads? Second, the fact that it seems political ads can commit slander and say things which would, in any other situation, be cause for a law suite. Again, I want to emphasize that I am not singling out the Democratic party. I am sure that every party has made use of these kind of blatant lies and defamatory tactics. How can anyone stand for it, though.

The absurd part is that even with the change in government makeup, does anyone really believe there will be a big change? Will life and the world be any better? You can follow the presidential elections from Regan through to W and you'll see that any changes that could actually be attributed to the government were different only in superficial ways. One example is that the GOP is supposed to be the business friendly party yet the whole Internet explosion and massive money burning happened during the Clinton administration. Politics is all about money and power. Multinational corporations drive everything. Greed is the god of politics.

I keep thinking there's got to be something better. After all, our current political system was created and refined over three centuries ago. I'm thinking that some things have changed which have effected the system since then. First, the whole Electoral Collage is worthless. Additionally, the act of announcing polling results while the elections are still going on is misleading at best and vote tampering at worst. The two year term for House Representatives is insane. It takes more than two years of campaigning to even run for the office. But is there something better? No, there is currently no better organization of government than the one we have now. Just look at the world over the last century. Most recently, the situation in Thailand exemplifies how things in the rest of the world are much more seriously dangerous than anything we have.

So the bottom line is that our system is really bad but it's much better than anything else out there right now.

And that's depressing as hell.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Best and worst states ranked in Transparency corruption index

Best and worst states ranked in Transparency corruption index: "Berlin - Global watchdog Transparency International on Monday published its annual corruption perceptions index spotlighting the cleanest states and naming and shaming the worst.

I have no idea who Transparency International are but the rankings are interesting none the less. It is my feeling that you can't have any kind of "government" without some corruption. Any time you have people with some kind of power it will inevitably lead a few to crossing the line.