Vultures 


I snapped this photo of these two vultures perched in the copse behind my house yesterday morning. It's not uncommon to see turkey vultures in the field behind my house but a few weeks ago I had noticed increased activity; often three or four at a time circling and landing on trees and the grass. So, I took a stroll back there and saw two deer carcasses in the brush near where it meets the open field. Directly to the left of where those two vultures sit in that picture, are more houses, a complete street to be exact; about the same distance to these birds that my house is. So, with the mystery of the increased vulture activity explained, I wonder who or what put those carcasses there. Plus, I haven't looked for about two weeks so perhaps there is something new back there. By the way, there is enough of the deer remains to rule out that someone is doing taxidermy. Plus, the remains are mixed in with tree limbs that are machine cut so it has to be someone putting them there. My guess is that someone does his own butchering and just dumps what's left in the brush. I have no problem with that, by the way and it is likely whoever is doing it, owns that lot. I was looking at the township tax maps and quite a bit of that land in that field is privately owned but I can't tell if that particular lot is owned by an individual or the township. I also can't tell if that lot borders ours and if it does, it's on the far side of his nowhere near where our lot ends. Regardless, that person's use of that land is more favorable than building something on it. Trust me, I am not complaining at all.

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Eat Me 
...or maybe I'll eat you. I guess it all depends on who's hungrier. Once again proving that America is the only nation on earth where a person with an IQ of 43 can become a billionaire, quintessential nutjob Ted Turner believes that Global Warming will cause humans to resort to cannibalism. When they passed out the Global Warming Kool-Aid, some said no thanks, some took a drink, and Ted drank about three gallons and asked for more. What a maroon.

It is scary that a person with wealth and influence actually believes something like this.

It some ways, however, listening to Ted should inspire all Americans. After all, if he can make it big, certainly anyone else can. Ted has certainly proved that being stupid is not a hindrance to success*. However, if becoming successful means becoming a loon like Ted, I would hope most Americans would say: "No thanks; being rational and intelligent is more important than fame and fortune."



*Most celebrities have proved this too.

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Postcard from Michael Yon 
I got a postcard from Michael Yon today. Michael is a blogger and observer who spends a lot of time in Iraq. He chronicles what he sees and though he's not a journalist, many journalists can learn a lot from him.



The front ^ and back v



A link to Michael's Blog is on the right. Be sure to check it out. If you can, donate to him as well. I'll ask the library I frequent if they will order the book and I have added it to my reading list, which is usually two or three books deep but I can certainly fit this one in.

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FreeBSD 7.0-Release 
I have a secondary machine that I've been running FreeBSD on for a few years. In fact, if it weren't for me shutting everything down when I went on vacation last summer and one time hooking up a UPS, it would have probably been up that long too; well, a year at least. Alas, I bade farewell to 4.11 and prepared for 7.0.
# >uptime
> 8:11 PM up 258 days, 1:11, 1 user, load averages: 1.00, 1.00, 1.00


That dates back to July and it was up well over 100 days at that time, which was the time elapsed since I turned it off in order to plug it into a UPS.

And then...
# >halt

I also pulled out the 8.4GB hard drive and put in a 40GB drive. Other than that, it's still the same PII 400MHz, 128MB RAM machine.

The install went as easily as any FreeBSD install does. The only problem I had was that Mr. Butterfingers hit the wrong menu choice at the end of the install and instead of exiting and rebooting, it started the install again. I got an error and was stuck in a loop - a "...try again?" type message; I selected 'no' but it still wanted to install again. So, I unplugged the power cord and it rebooted fine with the install I just did intact.

I don't bother installing X or a plugging a mouse in because I use it as a server. Although, one doesn't need X or a mouse to chat on IRC, IM, or even browse the web. All told, I spent maybe an hour installing and configuring it. From an end-user's perspective, I haven't noticed too many changes, so far, except that the Apache default DocumentRoot is under /usr/local/www/data now instead of /usr/local/apache/htdocs and the boot screen is slightly different. The Daemon screensaver, of course, is unchanged. As usual, I'll tinker with it here and there as time permits.

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Kwame Kilpatrick is a Democrat 
Heck, someone has to say it. NBC, CBS, and NBC can't bring themselves to say it. But when the accused is Larry Craig or David Vitter, according to that link, their party is mentioned without fail:
The big three broadcast networks have gone out of their way to avoid labeling scandal-scarred New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a "Democrat." An examination of the fifteen ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows through Wednesday night finds Spitzer was called a Democrat just 20 percent of the time -- twice on CBS, once on ABC, and never on NBC. So, how do the networks treat Republicans involved in sex scandals? Always, always as "Republicans." Looking at the ABC, CBS, NBC morning and evening shows in the days after the most recent scandals broke, Republican Senators David Vitter (July) and Larry Craig (August) were labeled "Republican" on every show (100 percent). Yet for Democrat Spitzer, four out of five news programs (80 percent) have skipped his party identification....


A Google search for "Kwame Kilpatrick is a democrat" yields 6 - SIX - results.

A Google search for "Larry Craig is a republican" yields 12,000 results.

If the search is changed to something more likely to appear in print:

"Democrat Kwame Kilpatrick" - we get 341 results.

"Republican Larry Craig" - we get 10,400 results.

What does this prove? One, the actions of a US Senator are more newsworthy than the actions of the mayor of the 11th largest city in the US*. A city, by the way, that has been beset with economic woes, shrinking population, and rampant crime. So, I suppose that scandal, corruption, and criminal activity by the mayor isn't really surprising. Two, when a Republican does something wrong, his party label follows him like a shadow, almost becoming part of his name. However, when a Democrat is accused of all sorts of debauchery, the party affiliation is treated like a non-essential piece of information.

In the Eliot Spitzer vs. Larry Craig Google News watch, a Google News search for Eliot Spitzer still yields over 35,000 results and Larry Craig yields about 2,800. The Spitzer searches may be inflated some as many hits yield stories about the woman involved too. I tried to filter those out by inserting "-call" "-girl" and still get about 17,000. I am sure Google will fix this problem by late summer (there is an election this year) and make sure the Larry Craig stories outnumber Spitzer ones. As for Kilpatrick, he hits about 5,300 now on Google News so he'll be below the Craig number much sooner.


*Unless, of course, if Kilpatrick were Republican and Craig a Democrat, the question would be "Larry who?"

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Stimulus 


The letter informing us about receiving a stimulus came today. Instead of spending like drunken sailors like so many Americans do, anyone who gets a check should 1) use it to pay down debt; credit card debt first or 2) put into a savings account. Other good uses are retirement funds, college funds, and home improvements. Naturally, ours will go into savings right away until we decide if we need any home improvements or to pad the three college funds a little.

Unfortunately, the reality is that all this package will do is augment the already rapid rising costs of goods. It's a 'feel good' move that will likely do little other than make things cost more which, of course, hinders people from paying debt or saving.

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You Gotta be Kidding Me 
Here's our local 15-day forecast from Accuweather.com:

[Link]

Isn't it supposed to get warmer as we get closer to April? The average high/low by late March is 53/32. Looks like another bitter cold spring is on the way. Maybe we'll get lucky and the forecast will be wrong - hopefully on the plus side of that deplorable forecast.

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Eliot Spitzer is a Democrat 
...but you wouldn't know it from this AP article. How about this CNN story? Nope, not there. Don't tell me the MSM doesn't have a liberal bias.

New York has 19.3 million residents.
Idaho has 1.5 million residents.

It will be interesting to see if this scandal about a governor of a state with nearly 20 million people gets even one-third the press a scandal about a senator from a state with about 1.5 million people got.

This story is still breaking as I type this so who knows where this will go.

Update 1: the Corner (National Review) points out a slideshow of scandals put together by ABC. In short, 13 people are identified six of the seven Republicans are identified as such but only one of the six Democrats is identified as such. The Corner also notes the absence of Mel Reynolds which is understandable because they can't have the number of Democratic scandals equal to or greater than Republican; D must never be greater than R-1. As the old saying goes: "he who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."

Update 2: Newsbusters points out how when the Larry Craig scandal broke in August, it was horns-a-blowin' and trumpets-a-blarin' time when it came to making sure we knew what party Larry Craig belonged to - the word 'Republican' was the fourth word out of Kate Snow's mouth on ABC and NBC's Brian Williams somehow managed to hold out until the middle of his second sentence.

The only way this Spitzer saga gets near the press Larry Craig did is if the media spends time discussing the good Spitzer has done.

Update 3: typing "eliot spitzer is a democrat" into Google does not yield a link to my site yet. Given how often Googlebot visits my site, this is suspicious.

Columns read: entry/hits/files/Kbytes/visits/hostname (March 2008 only)

1 579 8.05% 550 9.17% 16705 12.15% 73 5.59% crawl-66-249-67-207.googlebot.com

Alltheweb, it's sixth. Altavista, it's sixth also. Maybe Google has a quota on how many negative stories about Democrats it will return.

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Feckless 
Seems to be a lot of negative stories in the news of late. I guess since progress is being made in Iraq, the MSM needs to find, and cheer on, negativity elsewhere.

Mortgage meltdown/subprime crisis.
Soaring gas prices.
Downturn in the stock market.
Inflation.
Possible recession on the horizon (by traditional definition, not because Warren Buffett or the NyTimes say so).

The people wanted a Democratic majority in Congress and they got it. This current group is redefining the term feckless.

And what are the more influential Senators doing about these problems? Why, they are running for President! They can't manage the country as congressmen and women but they say they can as President. Instead of spending time in Ohio, Texas, or Wyoming, they should be working for the people they represent now, not whom they want to represent in the future.

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Brian Shrugged 
When I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke. But, alas, it's true. Atlas Shrugged is being made into a movie. Angelina J---- is Dagny (I think Jodie Foster would be a better choice) and some noname* is John Galt, which could be a good thing. If Hank Reardon turns out to be played by B--- P----, I'll barf, even though I have no intention of seeing the film. Given how long the novel is, I wonder how long the movie will be. I wonder how they will incorporate John Galt's speech, which is about 50 pages long, into the natural constraints of film.

It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. What happens in the novel is a disaster, but that's not the kind if disaster I think the movie will be.

People would be better off reading the book instead of getting the canned version from a movie studio.

No matter, I won't go see it. Even if I'm wrong and it's critically acclaimed, that will unlikely bring me to the theater or DVD rental place.


*Of course, to me, most actors are nonames, although the media does a good job keeping me informed by treating celebrity gossip as news.

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-11, aiming for -20 
As is undoubtedly good practice, I don't blog about my health or finances and rarely mention family and, when I do, I usually don't use their names. One thing I don't mind stating is that my wife and I live a debt-free life. I mention this because, while it may seem hard, it's quite easy to do if you put your mind to it. I have little sympathy for those who live beyond their means and then when things get tight, they cry to the government for help, all the while sipping that $3.50 latte while driving a $35K car and then going home to watch some prime-time garbage on their plasma TV. It's one thing to be down and out due to misfortune or bad luck, but it' s quite another when it's due to irresponsibility. I don't mind when my taxes help those who need it but I don't think we should bail out those who refuse to control themselves. For us, our biggest expense is the mortgage and the second is what we put into our retirement accounts. We haven't had a car payment in five or six years and don't plan on having another one, even though we plan on buying a vehicle this year. Also, last year we donated about 1% of our income to charities.

Anyway, I have lost 11 lbs this year. Late last year I started to cut salt from my diet. This quickly eliminates a lot of foods, especially the processed stuff. I consciously strive for the five a day, with a salad with lunch and dinner, an apple or carrots for a snack, a glass of juice, and then a vegetable with dinner. By actively reducing my salt intake, I eat much better. Of course, the occasional indulgence is fine; a good hotdog or cheesesteak is necessary to maintain sanity. I am far from perfect, though. I should really cut down on the coffee and the beer too and I really should stop using the weather as an excuse for not exercising. Once the weather warms, I will get back into biking and do my regular six mile ride two or three times a week.

But don't fret! I lived most of my twenties completely opposite! I was a terrible eater, didn't exercise, and really wasn't too responsible with my finances, although I did start planning for my retirement before I turned 30. It's never too late to make an assessment and cut those expenses and look to improve your diet. Too many Americans aren't planning for the future - financially and dietarily - we need to change that, now! Within 20 years when there is no Social Security and no money for the government to pay any health costs, those who did not plan ahead will be in for a rude awakening, as will those of us who did are - because we'll be the ones who get the bill. Personal responsibility is an invisible hand - the more who do it, the stronger society becomes. The less who do it, cause a burden on the few who do and that will eventually create social unrest on a major scale.

Global Warming will not doom us, we will do it ourselves. Overeating and overspending are the real deadly evils and, unlike the earth's climate, we can control what we spend and what we eat. We don't need an economic stimulus, we need a personal responsibility stimulus.

I know I am not perfect; far from it and when people get up on their high horse, it's usually met with "who are you to tell me what to do" and they are right to a degree. Once some aspect of society breaking down gets to the stage where standing on the soapbox and making a call for action is all one can do, it usually means we're too late. Changing habits is difficult and complicated by the fact that our leaders tell us we shouldn't have to do anything difficult and that we are entitled to everything (material, that is) by virtue of simply being here. Therefore, we need to lead by doing. Extend your invisible hand to others, especially to children, through example.

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Inventory 
Decisions. Decisions. My wife wants me to thin out my computer stuff. Without doing a formal inventory, which I tried once and gave up on because it was just too much, here's what I have:

1. Two complete PII computers
2. One AMDK6 computer
3. One PIII computer
4. One P4, almost complete - it's a Compaq Evo (small form thing) with no optical drive
5. Another P4 - CPU is good, board is bad. I haven't checked the other components; hit by lightning.

All are sitting idle and with the exception of number 5, all are working. As for spare parts, that's where the formal inventory part became too much. I have one spare monitor (good to have), three or four keyboards (good to have), several hard drives, one or two CDROMs, a few power supplies, memory, sound cards, video cards, Ethernet cards, power cords, and more. Most of the parts are from the PI and PII era and may not be be practical anymore. I don't think anyone would want an 8MB video card unless they have a PI or PII that is still used daily and they so no need to part with.

If you're local and are looking for something, contact me (upper right). I don't want to part with everything (the PIII is not available and neither is the monitor) but I want to clear things out.

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