So What Did You Come Here To Learn?

An overview of, well almost everything- From music to science to literature. I update at least daily, if not more often, so there's a great chance that you'll see something you like here every day!

Friday, October 28, 2005

What Is All This Bullshit?

Has anyone else noticed the increasing number of sneaky ads on blogger? I mean, no, I don't really use this thing very much as of late, but I mean, come on- do I really need shit like :


" said...

Hi,

I'm sorry for being intrusive in to your blog. But I am Melissa and I am a mother of two that is just trying to get out of an incredible financial debt. See my hubby is away in Iraq trying to protect this great country that we live in, and I am at home with our two kids telling bill collectors please be patiant. When my husband returns from war we will beable to catch up on our payments. We have already had are 2001 Ford repossessed from the bank, and are now down to a 83 buick that is rusted from front to back and the heater don't work, and tire tax is due in November.

I'm not asking for your pitty because we got our ownselfs into this mess but we would love you and thank you in our prayers if you would just keep this link on your blog for others to view.

God Bless You.

Melissa K. W.
To see my family view this page. My Family


Windows registry scanner - scans your Windows registry for errors and suggests solutions.

Paid surveys - Work at home, Get Paid For Your Opinion, paid surveys and online focus groups.

Combine AdWords and ClickBank for Huge Online Profits Words Great With Blogs"


I think not. Really- What a way to exploit people in need. Why don't you just say something like..... "I have aids, want to buy some auto insurance/windows products/information on mortgages?"

It would be JUST ABOUT AS EFFECTIVE, And not quite as morally bankrupt.

I miss someone.

Google

Monday, August 29, 2005

Who would have thought I'd update this thing again......

So, it's been a while since I've updated. Really, I've been pretty busy, and also havn't really had access to my computer, so, this is kind of a new beginning.

There's been lots of changes in my life, both personal and professional, and I don't really have time to go into it right now, but for all of my loyal readers, I'm not dead. I'm very much alive.

Much props to Tim. You're doing amazing things.

Google

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The pot calling the kettle black

So, with all the hubbub about how the olympic bomber has just been found, I did some searching, and came across an interesting fact. Rather, I made somewhat of a revelation.

Bomber's thoughts on explosions, abortions, and gays


Americans are just as dumb (or, some may say dedicated to causes, fanatical, extreme, etc) as anyone. This guy was a fanatic. He's given his reasoning behind the bombings (funny how when an American blows something up, kills people, etc, he's called a 'bomber', rather than a terrorist, with a few exceptions) as his hatred for America's wholesale availability of abortion, and homosexuals. Wow. Sounds like the Christian right, right?

Funny how no matter the religion, fanatics seem to operate in the same manner. There's been a lot of talk about how Muslim extremists treat women like property, have harsh laws, etc. It's also funny how alot of Christian extremists line up, at least in action, to their Muslim brothers and sisters. For years, women have had to be subordinate to men, and if you were homosexual, well, you might as well quit while you're ahead! This is a constant theme that we see between extremists. Just ask a male Christian extremist where he thinks women's places in society are, and I can almost, to a 99% certainty, say that his answer will sound a whole lot like a Muslim extremist's.

Now, I don't think either group is worse than the other. They are both the dregs of society- twisting what was originally designed to spread love for your fellow man into a justification to murder- but how often are Christian extremists portrayed as "Terrorists"? Hardly EVER. Is it that we live in a primarally Christian society? Or because it's easier to deamonize people that: 1. Are a different color than you. and 2. Have a different name for their religion?

Let's call it like it is: The Oklahoma City Terrorist, The Uni-Terrorist, The olympic Terrorist, The Irish Terrorist Army. It's only FAIR AND BALLANCED.

Symantics or not- wording plays a huge role in how people view murderers.

Google

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Taking the Bull by the Horns.

So, I've realized that I'm looking at my professional future all wrong.

I've been looking to work for someone in the long term. Why? You can't REALLY make money that way. I wouldn't enjoy it very much (most likely).

Why not, instead of working for someone, own my own business?
I COULD own any number of businesses dealing with the auto industry- from a repair shop to my own marque (this is something I've thought about for a while..). Yes, I would need some experience in the field, which means working for someone else for a while, but in the long run, why not give it a shot? I'm sort of on this kick because we had a recent (1997) PSU grad come and speak at my Professional Development class. He had the same major, emphasis, and minor as I do, similar mindset, and was over all a pretty cool guy. He's 30 and owns a dealership and a parts store. By the time he's 40, they'll both be completely paid off, and making him money for essentially doing very little.

Why couldn't I do the same? I know of marques that have NO dealerships in the Kansas city area, some of which the nearest dealer is St Louis, or even Chicago (ahem, lotus, bentley, etc) and marques that aren't sold in the US, along with models that aren't sold here (VW Lupo, Polo, etc, BMW diesels).

So why should I work under someone else, making them money? Granted, unless I start my own marque, I still would have SOMEONE above me, but not nearly as stifling as if I were working FOR a dealer, etc.

Now, for my plan to start my own Marque.

As outgoing models are discontiniued, many times manufacturers will sell the tools, molds, blueprints, engineering info, etc to private companies, sort of like what innocenti did with the lambretta molds. Why not buy MK2 VW, 914, 968, 928, and 993 tooling and molds, and do essentially what RUF does in germany- make them better? Granted, there would be some re-engineering for safety and emmissions, but overall, you could keep the vehicles the same, but improved. Granted, they wouldn't sell for as much as NEW VW's and porsches, but look at saleen and Shelby- they've made a KILLING using old ford designs. Down the line, I COULD compete on the same level as RUF, Saleen, Shelby, etc, selling late model tuner vehicles for MORE than the original.

Am I crazy to think this? I mean, how many people DONT love the cars I listed? Here's some Gratuitous pictures of each:
Porsche 914


Porsche 968




Porsche 928




Porsche 993




Volkswagen Golf/Jetta MK2






And finally, MK2 VW Scirocco GTX



There, every segment for CARS (no SUV's, Vans, or trucks) filled. You've got your front engine/front drive entry level vehicles, even sportier entry level vehicles with the 914 and scirocco, your mid level front engine, rear drive 968 and slightly higher up 928, and your top end rear drive rear engine 993.

This leaves positions open for a higher mid level mid engine/rear drive roadster (ahem, look out boxter and elise), your sub compact (ahem, VW Lupo, and look out chevy aveo) and your "halo" car (low production, high price point- usually a sports car- similar to a MB/Maclaren SLR, Ferrari Enzo, Porsche Carrera GT, Ford GT, etc).

Not to mention SUV's and Trucks (Porsche, VW, Audi, and Volvo have all made the transition to making SUV's successfully, as have Honda, Mitsubishi, and several other companies that have traditionally been "car" companies).

I mean, come on, who WOULDN"T want one of those? Granted, the scirocco, 914, and Golf/Jetta would weigh a tiny bit more, but who's to say that the suspension, brakes, engine and drivetrain couldn't be updated, too?

I know this is a little "out there", but it's not entirely impossible. An expensive way to get cars that you like, but not impossible .

Google

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Treating the Symptom is Not the Same as Curing the Disease

This past weekend, I had a conversation with my mother during a long drive. I was contending that vehicle safety isn't as important as proper driver training and safety. My premise was that if our society focused on preventing accidents, insurance costs would be lower, people would be safer, and vehicles would last longer. I see this as a boon to everyone (except for people selling cars and insurance).


In Germany, driver's ed isn't a 3 week course that you can coast through. It is almost a year long process that costs A LOT of money to complete. However, participants actually learn how to drive in many different situations, and since it is such a long process, they get a chance to learn to drive in all weather conditions. If you don't pass, you can't get your license, and you have to start allllllllll over again. Not to mention, pay again. This causes people to actually learn in driver's ed, rather than slack off in the back of a high school classroom while the gym or shop teacher sits up front, drinks his coffee, and talks to the athletes in the class.


But would this solve all of the problems we have? Not quite, but it would create a huge impact. My mother's main argument was “well, you can't control everyone else”. No, you can't. But if everyone goes through this intense driver training (not Driver's Ed, Driver's Training.), then the likelihood of someone else causing an accident is greatly lowered. Granted, there will always be stupid drivers, but with a more rigorous training and licensing program, we could help weed out poor drivers.


“But what about people driving without licenses?” Simple. No license- No car. How are you going to drive without a car? Borrow someone else's vehicle? Doubtful- Some auto makers are already doing this in very very limited quantities, but new security systems may incorporate finger or thumb print analysis instead of a key. New Drivers would have to be added at dealerships, and you could make it so that only licensed drivers could be added, and thus, only trained, and licensed drivers could drive your vehicle.


That brings up the issue of emergencies. This is a touchy area, and I usually hate it, but there could be an “emergency circuit”, or bypass where the driver could use his ID to start the vehicle, press a button, have the non-licensed driver use their ID, and then whatever mistakes are made will be on the licensed Driver. Kind of like a learner's permit.


This would be great, but there are some situations where you have no control, such as wildlife jumping in front of your vehicle. If you've ever seen a car hit a deer, you know that it's just as bad as hitting another vehicle. That's why I'm not saying safety devices are useless, just that they shouldn't be the main focus.


But what's wrong with making safety devices the main focus?


Well, it makes drivers feel invincible when driving, for one. “We've got 37 airbags in this baby- I can hit a flaming spike at the bottom of a 3 mile drop, and as long as I'm wearing my safety belt, I can get out and walk away” Granted, that's a hyperbole, but you get the point. The fact is, Supplemental Restraint Systems (SRS- Look at the airbags in your car) are just that- SUPPLIMENTAL- they can only do so much. Even with these, you aren't assured safe passage through many wrecks. People have been killed in SRS equipped cars, even in newer, multi airbag vehicles. Even while wearing their safety belts.


There are other factors that go into vehicle safety- suspension tuning, chassis rigidity (this can be both a good and bad thing, as too rigid of a chassis will fail to lengthen the time it takes the vehicle to decelerate in a wreck), Electronic Stability Programs, Traction Control Programs, etc, etc. Most of these focus on accident avoidance in one way or another, which is good. But the ones that don't (crumple zones, intrusion beams, etc) simply add to the false sense of security that many drivers have in their vehicles (ESPECIALLY GIANT SUV's).


The point is, we need more rigid driving laws. More specifically, WHO can drive. Many states only license their drivers once a decade- twice at best. I've seen drivers health, especially older drivers, take a turn for the worse in a matter of years, even months.


Face it- Driving is a privilege, not a right. This goes against EVERYTHING that I normally stand for, but there are certain instances where government regulation is pretty much necessary. States have failed to create safe drivers- In Kansas, you have to take a driving test ONCE in your entire life. And that test consists of literally driving around the block, and parking in a perpendicular parking space. No Highway, no curvy roads, no high speed driving. Not even a parallel parking test. You can pass the test by simply driving on the correct side of the road on some side streets, and obeying the speed limit.


In summation, safe driving is just as important, if not more important than safe vehicles. Please, learn to drive, and don't be stupid. You're not only putting yourself in danger, but you're putting everyone around you in danger.


Larry.Burger@gmail.com

Google

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Archimedes Screw: How America's Foreign Policy Culture Has Managed to Stand Still Over the Last 55 Years.

The Archimedes Screw is one of the oldest machines in existence. Originally used to pump water, modern applications include self-stoking coal burners and ice dispensers. The screw looks like it's moving, due to it's rotation, but in reality, it's perfectly stationary. It's a visual lie. It's tricking the viewer into thinking it's progressing, while it's simply standing still.


This is similar to how America's foreign policy culture has acted since the Korean war in the early 1950's. We have allowed our country to stagnate in a state of global terrorism for half a century, blinded by claims of defending freedom.


Now, before you quit reading hear me out. What was the American military's role in every conflict in the last half of the 20th century? We were trying to force OUR beliefs onto other cultures. First, we couldn't have communism spreading, leading to conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, and a slew of Central American countries. We propped up and tore down a series of dictators, despots, and mass murderers to achieve our goals, which, we rarely achieved. In the 1980's and 90's, America continued this tradition in Africa the Middle East, and western Asia. We supplied gorilla fighters with weapons, ignored acts of genocide, and shook hands with leaders we would later use as feeble excuses to go to war in the 21st century.


What is it about other cultures that threatens US interests? Is it the fact that we want to dominate the world? I seriously doubt it. But, if you look at our military history, we have been unable and unwilling to deal with other cultures or admit mistakes. It's easier to defend killing for “freedom”, than what is really going on (neo-colonialism).


It usually begins innocently enough. “Military Advisers”, “Peace Keeping Missions” and training local forces are how most of the conflicts in the last half of the 20th century began. Of course, there were all out invasions, some of which failed (Bay of pigs). But the same theme is there. Raise Oil prices, have a system different than capitalism, try to develop a means to defend yourself, you get bombed. You get US, UN, and NATO troops kicking in doors, stealing people away in the night, holding them incommunicado for months, even years.


The US and it's allies have been at this for 50 years. They're good at it- or should I say, they're good at not looking like they're doing anything wrong.



But how is this wrong? Granted, a lot of the leaders and governments we've displaced really are the “bad guys”, but how is replacing one despot with another any better? In the US's eyes, as long as they do what we want, it's better. But this has backfired in the past. We've seen US placed DICTATORS commit horrible atrocities. In my mind, it's just the US acting through a “proxy server”- that is, not doing the work itself, but somehow getting someone else to do the wet work. How about this- any war crime or human rights abuse that these dictators have committed, the US should be held accountable for. Maybe that would lead to better leader selection when we invade sovergn nations. We knew that these guys would do things like this- we even enabled them (Giving chemical weapons to Hussein) – yet we still put them into power, for one reason or another. In Hussein's case, it was because he was a secular Muslim. Wow, that worked out well.


The thing we need to realize is, America is not a global government. America is the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Hawaii, and our “territories” (that's a whole other issue). We should not be imposing our will on a global scale. One extreme view of what's going on is that “America is doing what Hitler couldn't, just at a slower pace and through more subtle means”. I don't necessarily subscribe to this beliefs, but it is not hard to see how people think this.


Just one last thing, and I promised myself I wouldn't mention any specific leaders in this essay, since I wanted to analyze the problems, not place blame.


In a recent article posted on Unknownnews.com, Syed Saleem Shahzad of Asia Times wrote about sources saying that the US will be arming Suni Rebels in southern Iraq. It seems that old habits die hard (well, harder than “dissidents”, at least). You can view the article here.


Standing still while moving. The Archimedes Screw does it. So does US foreign policy.

Google

Thursday, February 17, 2005

OpenOffice 1.1.4- First Impressions

Everyone Experiments in college. Some with Drugs, Alcohol, or Sexuality. Others in their perception of the world. Even more try new political thought systems. It's good that this happens- without experimentation, no one would know about anything new or unusual. As for myself, I've been experimenting with open-source software.


I was wanting a powerful office suite, but didn't want to pay Microsoft's outrageous (at least to a college student) prices, and I didn't want to “steal” MS office via a P2P program such as Kazaa, Limewire, Etc..., so I turned to open source software.


I had heard some buzz about OpenOffice on forums, and even on television. I had heard great things about it- it would end bulky, high priced suites such as MS Office and WordPerfect, but for some reason a “free” program that was THAT good, well, seemed TOO good. We'll find out. This is the first in a long term trial of a few open-source programs that I'll be testing over the next few months, so don't expect super in-depth analysis of all of the functions (yet).


But what I will do is give my first impressions of OpenOffice.


Right now I'm using the Word Processor to type this post, and it seems to be going smoothly. I've used it for all of my posts so far, with little trouble. I do like how it is set up, and the very first thing I noticed is that it's fairly bare bones. No fancy graphics, no Office Assistant (THANK GOD), and everything that's commonly used is easily accessible. Formating pages, paragraphs and text is easy and quick, and without silly wizards holding your hand through simple processes such as creating a table.


One thing that I really like are the tool bars. They really are set up better. Items are organized better than MS Word, you have access to everything you'll need, and the icons are easily recognizable. Some may say there's too many tool bars, but hey, that's why it's customizable.


Also included are a spreadsheet program (MS Excel), a “Presentation maker” (Powerpoint), a Drawing tool (MS Paint on BGH), and an HTML Publisher (Weak Frontpage).


The one thing that is missing is a Database tool. If this suite had something that could compare with MS Access, I'd say that I'd even pay for it. But no Database, no buy.


To be honest, I mostly use the Word Processor, since most of my work is typed documents. I'll be using the Presentation Maker more in the future for class work, and I'll give an in-depth look at it then. The Drawing Tool is somewhat useless, but it's still nice to have in case you want to doodle with something a little more powerful than MS Paint. The spreadsheet app is, well, it's a spreadsheet app. It's Excel without that damnable paper clip popping up every 5 seconds. It's nice.


I'd say I'm happy with the suite so far, as it hasn't given me any real trouble, but I'm certain, just like every other program, the problems will become more apparent as I use it more. I've only noticed one issue that needs to be corrected so far, which is the fact that there are sometimes formatting issues going between OpenOffice and MS Office and visa versa. Simple page formatting problems that can be fixed in seconds in both programs. Nothing big, but I figure I'd throw in the bad with the good.


I'd recommend this suite to anyone that needs an inexpensive, comprehensive package, and knows a thing or two about using the individual MS Office programs. It's a nice change of pace to not have things dumbed down for you, and the average PC user will find it easy to use.

Visit the OpenOffice web site for more info and a free download.

Untill Next Time,

Larry



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