Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

Perfect Weather


If you can't see snow like we had today, and want to rush outside and do this, you take yourself far too seriously.

Things that would make me abandon the faith

If this could be proved true.

However, I don't know how in the world it could be proven. I'm pretty sure it couldn't, and this is just a documentary from the pits of hell. But if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, my faith is utterly meaningless and I'm best getting on with life as it seems best to me, not to a suddenly worthless old book.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

On a lighter note

I pre-ordered the Lord of the Rings Online game (Lord of the Rings: Shadows of Angmar). It's a MMO (Massively Multiplayer online) game, based around the Lord of the Rings. The advance screenshots are beautiful, and one of the great thigns to do in these games is, say, climb to the summit of Weathertop and watch the sun set. Or sit in the Prancing Pony and discuss life over a pint of ale. All the playable characters are the good guys - Men, Elves, Hobbits and Dwarves. And the game is heavily influenced by Tolkien geeks.

Best of all, if in the Beta (pre-release final trials - like a free demo) I decide that I really like the game, I can pay a one-time subscription fee and avoid the recurring monthly charges that are the true profit centers for such games. It ammounts to a 14-month advance subscription, but I am a casual enough player that it is the monthly drain that keeps me from such games - I tried the Star Wars game, but didn't play it enough each month to feel like it was worth it. But there are times I still think it would be fun to log on, hop over to Endor, and go sight-seeing.

Currently Under Debate

Is legislation for Nevada that would prohibit price gouging.

If you've read the blog, you know this bothers me.

It's Senate Bill 5. If you care enough to suggest to your State Senator that this may be a bad idea, do so. If not, don't.

I'll just say that maybe the price on rental cars went up after flights were grounded after 9/11 because of market forces - namely, that the rental car infrastructure is wholly insufficient to replace the volume of traffic that airplanes previously carried, so suddenly there was a SEVERE shortage. A market response in this case is for the price to go up, proportionally to the increased demand. One of the outcomes of this increased price is that people who don't value renting a car at $700 a day won't, freeing it for someone who will. Suddenly, renting a nice car to try and impress a date (I saw it in a TV commercial...) isn't as important, but getting home to see your family is.

25% is suggested in the article (I think - but I've read about this in several sources) as the cap on how much the price of a good can increase in an emergency. That is a trifling ammount - far too small to cover the swing of prices one could expect in a crisis due only to supply and demand issues (as opposed to the horrible evil nastiness of greedy bad sellers).

It's a horrible idea that will probably become law simply because politicians are quite adept at passing laws that sound good (especially when coupled with words like "Gouging") but end up harming the consumer (in this case, by creating artificial shortages at a time when supplies are most needed).

Monday, February 19, 2007

Random Data


Google has given me the power to see who reads my blog. At least, I can see where people are reading it from, and how they got here.

Not surprisingly, most of the visits are from Reno, with 13. I also have 3 visits from Spokane, which I assume at first glance is my aunt and uncle up north. I have a visit each from Louisville (Hi Megan/Todd!), and Minneapolis and Dallas - neither of which I can readily identify. Rounding out the count are some quasi-locals are a visit each from Las Vegas and Santa Clarita.

7 of the visits were people either typing in or using a bookmark to come straight to the site.
5 were from a link on Ken and Alicia's blog (should I include Abby in the list now?)
4 were from a link on Dawson's blog
3 are simply marked (other)
And 1 was from Kenny's blog.

These stats are over two days. It will be interesting to see what further details this allows. Not that I'm examining the effectiveness of online ads or something - I just find things like this interesting.

And I wonder who the Vegas, Santa Clarita, Minneapolis, and Dallas visitors are. Feel free to stand up and be counted.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Afternoon

Random thoughts:

I'm going to see Ghost Rider this evening. Yay!

With Anna Nichole Smith (sp?) passing away, it has made me think a bit. It is very easy for us to judge "loose" women (whether in lifestyle, dress, or both) harshly. If anything, we should be sad, that lives are collapsing and all anyone seems to care about is the outside drama (who dates who, who cheats on who, who hooks up with who, etc). Do these people know that they could lose every ounce of physical beauty, become old, poor, and cast off from the world and be loved, far more than anything they have yet known?

It's the best time of year right now, because there's a whole year before the next February 14. I also managed to escape this year without looking like an ass by doing nothing except go to a basketball game with my sister. I think it's the first time in years (well, at least 3) that nothing from the day can come back and bite me in the butt. That's a peaceful feeling.

I walked across the street for lunch at Subway today. This is noteworthy because I walked instead of driving, and because I got a healthier meal than is normal - the double deuce!

I made my first posting on craigslist this week. I'm hoping to trade tickets with a Washington State Cougars fan, because they are likely to land in Sacramento and Nevada is likely to go to Spokane for the first (and potentially second) rounds of the NCAA tournament. I already got a response, so we'll see if it works. It's a 12+ hour drive to Spokane. I can do it... really... really, I can... I think I have an aunt in the area. I wonder if we can get lodging?

I need to update my "Currently Reading" list. I'm sort of kind of in the middle of about 5 books, but only actively reading one. Last night was a discussion on the age of the earth, as well as a look at the history of leaded gasoline and some quantum physics. And it was INTERESTING - not just the content, but the writing.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sound Investments

The lives of other people. Few things compare with seeing a guy who would just as soon tell God to piss off turn around and bow his head in worship a few months later. If you're too wrapped up in your own world, or fail to connect with people outside other faithful church-goers, you;ll miss it uttterly.

I can hardly wait

For this game to come out.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sounds Good

Works poorly.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Congressional Democrats called on Tuesday for the Bush administration to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce the record U.S. trade deficit, including action against what they called trade barriers and unfair trade practices in China, Japan and the European Union.

"We ask you again to join us and develop a meaningful action plan that addresses the burgeoning deficit," House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other senior Democrats said in a letter to President George W. Bush.

The call followed a Commerce Department report showing the U.S. trade deficit widened 6.5 percent in 2006 to a record $764 billion. That included bilateral gaps of $233 billion with China, $117 billion with the EU and $88 billion with Japan.

The problem is that the proposals are fluff. The biggest causes of the "trade defecit" (gap between exports and imports) are not the items listed. They include surging oil prices (more expensive foreign oil = more $ assigned as imports), local demand, an American affair with buying things, and certainly not least domestic legislation such as the minimum wage.

The biggest problem is this: "The House Democrats offered no specific proposals for addressing broad economic factors, such as a low U.S. savings rate and strong consumer demand, which many economists believe are major causes of the U.S. trade gap."

The trade defecit is something that eventually works itself out in a free-flowing economy, in exchange rate fluctuations. But the headline on the article is "Democrats call for US deficit plan" which makes it sound like the Federal Budget defecit is being addressed, and this is not true at all.

That is a real problem. But a difficult and painful one to solve, which leave politicians trying to justify their own existence by pushing this fluff. It frustrates me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Super Bowl Sunday and Disagreeable Scientists

I stumbled across this article talking about the experiences of an NFL player who went to Afghanistan for the Super Bowl. As a sports fiend, it is a good reminder of bigger and more important matters.

On a wholly different note, I have been caught up in reading this book: A Short History of Nearly Everything. It's a science book, but it is written by a non-scientist to be accesible to non-scientists. The style is engaging, the points interesting, and a reminder of how amazingly huge creation is. It is cause for me to step back in wonder at the unbelievably complexity of the world.

I was caught when I read part of a chapter about Einstein and the Theory of General Relativity in Borders. I knew it would be interesting when it reminded me that if Jupiter was the size of a period on a piece of paper, Pluto would be 35 feet away... and that's only 1/50,000th of the way (if Jupiter is the size of a period on a page, the edge is somewhere near Tonapah) to the Oort Cloud - the edge of the solar system, which is 2 light years away - halfway to the nearest star.

It reminded me of a line from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - "Space is huge. Really huge. You just wouldn't believe how amazingly, mind-bogglingly huge it is."

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'm a Culinary Genius

The mini-kabobs were a hit. But I'm running out of ideas that I can use to continue my parade of gastrointestinal delights. Anyone have suggestions?

Smarter People Than I

Agree that if oil consumption (or in this case, foreign oil consumption) is a bad thing, the best response is a tax on the bad thing - not subsidies for one possible alternative.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Why Dungy is Different

Tony Dungy coached the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl win last night. He was the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. But one thing that really sets him apart is not the level of melanin in his skin, but the attitude he has as a coach. He is known as an encourager, a guy who respects his players and treats them like grown men. Speaking about the victory, he said

"I'm proud to be the first African-American coach to win this," Dungy said during the trophy ceremony. "But again, more than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only African-American but also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that."

It sounds to me like his attitude comes from his faith. This to me says more than "I want to thank Jesus for helping me win." Dungy didn't offer any tripe, and he was straight to the point. He was proud that they had succeeded by not following the scream-and-yell-and-berate coaching model, but through encouragement, support, and respect for his players as men.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Controversy

Was the foul before the shot or not? At the moment that the player starts to shoot, the referee is already raising his hand. Given that it takes a second for one to decide to raise his hand, and for him to actually raise his hand; and given that the referee who called the foul did not count the basket - I think the final call is correct. But I'm biased.

Denis Ikovlev

The only first-year starter on the Nevada basketball team right now, and a surprise. He has really picked up his game this year, and gets far too little credit for his play. Sorry the video is of poor quality, but it was a highlight reel for him.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Super Bowl Party

Barbecue Beef Mini Kabobs

Coram Deo is having a Super Bowl Party. This is what I am bringing as my appetizer. It's good. After all, I had to test it before I gave it to everyone else, right? That meat has been soaking in a mixture of lemon juice, A1, Honey BBQ Sauce, garlic powder and dry BBQ seasonings for 3 days. I added the pineapple juice this morning, grilled and prepared this afternoon (including boiling the reserved marinade to thicken and sanitize it, then basting the meat while cooking), and will reheat it all together tomorrow to take.

Is it stereotypical for a guy to love the grill? Perhaps. But for good reason.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Road to Serfdom

The picture is often painted of greedy corporations being held in check by benevolent governments. I favor limited government mostly because I see politicians as no more or less greedy (or otherwise prone to the failings of human nature) than corporations, with far fewer checks on their power. Given that I don't trust one more than the other, I favor a system with more checks on their power.

I read an article today on a libertarian-leaning website about Hugo Chavez, who has received a unanimous vote to give him the power to rule by decree for 18 months in order to put in place a vast nationalization of the economy. Either the legislature unanimously thinks that giving Chavez total power in the government is a good thing, they fear dissenting because of personal fear, or they are bought and paid for through the already vast resources of currently nationalized industries.

But I'd like other perspectives on it. I like hearing from Kenny because he doesn't see the world in the same angle I do, but I'd like to know what other people think, too.