Thursday, March 30, 2006

Prayer Not So Useful

From MSNBC: Power of prayer flunks an unusual test.

Apparently, not only does prayer not help reduce problems after heart surgery, God actually smites people who know others are praying for them slightly more often:)

From the article:

"The study looked for any complications within 30 days of the surgery. Results showed no effect of prayer on complication-free recovery. But 59 percent of the patients who knew they were being prayed for developed a complication, versus 52 percent of those who were told it was just a possibility."

I'm not entirely sure why God would punish those who actually knew that others were praying for them. Perhaps because he wants them to pray on their own and not outsource it to others. Perhaps he just likes the bitter irony. I know I do:)

What I do know is that we have a definite decision in round 489,954,543,543 of the Science v. God fight. Hands down this round goes to Science.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Agent Orange != Tang

Agent Orange victims gather to seek justice

I think I have mentioned this one before, but I'm just baffled at the stupidity of the government sometimes. Agent Orange was defoliant used mostly in the Vietnam war to clear jungle. We dumped about 20 million gallons of this shit over the country. And, surprise surprise, dumping that much of a chemical that more or less instantly kills plants isn't so good for us humans either. Wow. I'm shocked I tell you. SHOCKED!

Its the same for DDT back in the 50s and 60s. People actually used to let their kids run around outside when it was being sprayed because the government told them it was ok. I'm guessing that would be about as healthy as taking a good lick from the inside of an ant trap, but sure! Why not?

I can just imagine that friendly neighborhood government official in charge of spraying assuring everyone it was ok:

"DDT is perfectly safe. Just because it is a poison that kills insects is no reason not to stand outside and let it rain down on you like mana from heaven. Pay no attention to all those dead bald eagles in the corner. One has nothing to do with the other."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

V for Vendetta

Last time, I mentioned that I would write my thoughts on V for Vendetta tomorrow. Well, I guess that whole wheel of time has turned and it is time to put up.

WARNING: There are some spoilers in here. Don't read if you care.

The basic plot of the movie is the idea that after a horrible biological terrorist attack in the UK and other terrorist actions around the world, the people of the UK vote in a completely xenophobic government that controls every aspect of their lives: They control the media, listen in on conversations at will, and generally trample all civil liberties in their ruthless pursuit of power and control. Homosexuals, immigrants, and Muslims were all rounded up by the government and sent to camps where they where either executed or "rehabilitated" (I'll leave it to your imagination to guess what that involved).

Its a interesting take on what people would willing give up for a feeling of safety. In a lot of ways the government they are describing is the Peoples Republic of China or the USSR before the fall of communism.

I'm still trying to decide if I think something like this could really happen in the US.

On the one hand, I doubt it. Just look around now: Despite 9/11, people (at least the majority of people) still stand up and say that the government should not have the right to listen in on conversations whenever they want. We have the most independent press on the earth that sees into every part of the government.

And yet... Its not as far fetched as it sounds. I bet if got people to answer honestly, you could get at least 10-20% of the population to agree to sending homosexuals and Muslims to a "rehabilitation" camp. The Bush administration has admitted that they have paid new's personalities to cover administration actions/plans in a favorable light. Conservatives are still making arguments like "if you are not for the government's every action, you are for the enemy". Listening in on overseas calls, reading email, gathering records about what I read at the library. All are steps down the path to the totalitarian state of this movie.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Recent Movies

Sue and I watched A History of Violence last weekend, and since I am stuck several hundred miles away from my Sue with a lot free time on my hands, I thought I would go to the theater here in Wisconsin and see a movie that Sue had no interest in seeing with me: V for Vendetta.

First off, I'll give you my reviews:

A History of Violence

B/B-/ A fascinating movie with some unbelievably great acting that is mared by the fact that in their effort to confront the violence of the character they use gore as the primary means to shock the audience. However, the direction is excellent with a laser-like focus and relentlessness that keeps you watching this house of cards fall apart in such a short period of time.

V for Vendetta

A-/B+. It had a few rough spots and few scenes that didn't seem to make sense from the audience's perspective. But the overall plot was quite good, the visuals were stunning, and as always Natalle Portman is fantastic. Plus, the subject matter of the movie itself was just plain fascinating. The idea that citizens really would willing trade civil liberties in exchange for protection is interesting to me at least.

WARNING!!! BIG SPOILERS AHEAD. If you are interested in seeing either movie without a lot of foreknowledge and my goofy thoughts in the way, don't read any farther.

A History of Violence -

The obvious message is that your past always catches up with you. We see this again and again as the people from the lead characters past return to his current life. They throw off the balance of everything he has worked so hard to build in his small town.

More subtle is the undertone that once you accept violence as a solution to a problem, it is difficult to switch to anything else. Like violence is a road down which each step make it harder and harder to turn around and go back to where you came from. Acceptance from his wife and children, friends, and coworkers becomes more and more difficult with each action he takes. And once the associates from his past force his old personality to the forefront, the main character seems to have difficultly returning to the simpler, humbler, and much less aggressive persona that he had built up.

There is also a little hinting at the idea that not all violence is bad. You know that saying that men sleep safely in their beds at night only because other men are willing to commit violence on their behalf? ( Mark Twain I believe) Well, this movie certainly continues to enforce my ideas about that.

I'm tired. V for Vendetta's review can wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wisconsin, Here I Am

I'm in Wisconson this week for HR paperwork, training, and meet and greets with my new company. So far everyone seems nice enough, but I've met what seems like a 100 people so they are all starting to blur together. I remember a Marcia, a Patrick, someone named Dan, and Matt. However, not one last name has stayed with me. I hope there aren't too many people with the same first name in this group:)

Wausau is a nice enough place to visit. Everyone speaks quickly again (thank god!), and they certainly have that Midwest friendlyness going on in full force. Actually, in the morning it is a little off putting. For the love of God leave me along and let me code and sip my pop in peace! Stop being so damn personable!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Hunting Quail like a VP

Good for 5 minutes of entertainment or so:

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

OMG that is awesome!


I cut a hole in our living room drywall yesterday. And not a little, spider could crawl through it hole either. I'm talking a hole big enough that we could have shoved Bob through it if need be. Our roof leaked when we first bought the house and I am sure that most of you are aware that water and drywall/latex paint don't exactly get along:) In actual fact, water and drywall are like mortal enemies! Like Pat Roberson and any sane American.

Anyways, on to the point of this blog: I was standing there with a big knife in my hand looking at the wall and thinking, "I can't do this....I can't do this..." when Sue looked up and said something to the effect of, "Do you know the procedure? Well then, I trust you can do it".

1/2 hour later I had the new piece of drywall in. I love that girl:)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hard to Motivate

Sweet Jesus it is getting hard to stay motivated to do any good work here. Since I know I am quiting in 2 weeks, my urge to try to be the best and get the fantastic pay raises I have come to expect here is no longer holding my urge for sloth at bay. It is a effort of will just to stay here for the required eight hours a day!

On an unrelated note, I started a new blog yesterday (Coding From The Midwest) that will contain my more software engineer specific rants, data, examples, etc. Most of our readers will find this mind-numbingly boring or useful when you just cannot fall asleep at night, but if you make your living ordering around the gnomes that power every digital circut, you might find some useful stuff.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Top Ten Things We Will Miss/Look forward to

Thinking about our upcoming move, Sue and I are thinking about all the things we miss from Michigan and all the things we are leaving behind. Here is our list so far:

Things We Will Miss From Alabama

  • D, Uncle R and all of the rest of the HPP. Also all of the Tybrin folks that really made us a part of their families :)
  • Guthrie's Chicken - A store that only makes fried chicken and it comes in a box meal form, very delicious.
  • Almost nonexistant property tax - 0.5 mils is insane.
  • Dirt cheap land - My house and yard are going to cost about 1.5 to 2 times what they cost here.
  • Dirt cheap housing - see 7.
  • Living in an area with more PhDs than McDonalds per square mile. There is something to be said for a town with so many REALLY smart people around. Just don't leave the county and everything is fine.
  • Being 4 hours from Atlanta. I really dig Peachtree street (but I cannot say which one). 1150 is a awesome club. But our Paul Van Dyke curse started there, so I have mixed feelings.
  • Hard-core, balls to wall arguments with right-wing nut jobs. You just can't find right wing nut jobs like this in Michgan. Ok, you can, but they tend to live in Dexter and still light crosses on fire on peoples' lawns. Best to avoid thoe folks when possible.
  • More GREAT mexican resturants than you can shake a stick at. I don't even like mexican food that much, but DAMN.
  • Alabama Fall and Spring. Although I'll be the first to admit that its hard to tell when one ends and the other begins. BTW: There is no winter here. Period. End of discussion.

Things We Miss From Michigan and look forward to again

  • The MSU and U of M party possee' s and all of the other friends in MI. Both of our families.
  • Slurpees! By corelation: 7-11.
  • Not having to drive 4 hours to visit a major city. I'm getting older, fatter, and lazier and driving four hours for fun is getting to be more than I care to invest.
  • No nipple tape. I admit its been a while since we have seen a stripper, but if the mood strikes me I like to know that I can see a nipple in all its glory any time I want.
  • CANADA! Left leaning, European ideals about sex, fun, and drinking. Young 19 year olds drunk and dancing in the club. People who actually appreciate Trance music.
  • Gambling - Poker, slots, more casinos run by indians than you can possibly imagine, instant scrach off tickets, and a state wide lottery to punish people with false hope and no math skills.
  • Proffesional Sport Teams: GO WINGS! And the Pistons. And uh... yea... we have the Lions. And the Tigers...uh...hmm...yea...uh...GO WINGS! I can finally make that Simpson's joke about, "How about those local sports teams?" without sounding like an idiot.
  • MSU - Ah, sweet Alma Mater. I don't care what my friends say. MSU is just as good a school as UofM. Stuff it Kelly, Chris, and Shelle! MSU HOckey RULES!
  • Snow - I know it is nostalgiac to think this way, but I miss snow. Ice skating, snowmen, and skiing!
  • Paczkis - Sweet, delicous, Polish doughnuts. Michigan has a huge polish population and they make thousands each year. I love them so much that Sue's Mother has shipped us a dozen every year we have been here just so we would not miss out.
  • All of the culture that Detroit, Toronto and Chicago have to offer. All of the great museums and musical shows/concerts that come each year. Ecspecially the car show and the Electronic music festival (Detroit is the birthplace of electronic music!). I can't wait to go the Detroit zoo and see Dave Matthews in Comerica park.
  • Being in a state the appreciates the american car and will buy American cars. Not having to live in a state where everyone one has a Toyota with an American pride bumper sticker on it.
  • Meijer's! I miss Meijer's. I love it's 24 hour greatness. They started the buy everything in one location thing when it began in 1962. Fucking Wal-mart stole the idea in 1988. Fuck Wal-mart and fuck Sam Walton. Hendrick Meijer rules. I refuse to shop in Wal-mart ever again.
  • The Mackinaw Bridge and Mackinaw fudge. Mmm...fudge. If you have never been to Mackinaw then you have not had real fudge. By relation Moose tracks ice cream.
  • REAL LAKES!! Only Michigan has real lakes.
  • Pokey sticks! If you went to MSU, then you understand.
  • Four distinct seasons. If I wanted to sweat to death then I would go to a sauna. Not natural.
  • Being in a blue state again and not living in the Bible belt.
  • Not having any dry counties. WTF is a dry county??? Plus being able to buy liquor and milk and eggs in the same location.
  • The Hash bash in Ann Arbor. A place where fans of marijuana can come together and be merry.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Holding Everyone's Hand

One thing I will NOT miss about my job is holding the slow peoples' hands during development. Today in a fit of complete stupidity, one our developers came and bothered me saying that the build was broken on his machine.


First off, there is the fact that every time this dude gets the source code from our server he has this issue. He's one of those people who responds to unexpected issues much like I imagine a cave man would: stares blankly, grunts, shakes monitor, scratches head, wonders aloud, "why no work?". You get the idea.

So he comes to my office to tell me that one of the projects (lets call it project B) in the code won't build (yet again). I ask him all the usual questions:

Me: You got all the code from the server right?

Him: <grunt>

Me: You did merge the changes into your code right?

Him: <grunt>

Me: OK, lets go have a look. <scroll through errors> Well lets see, project B is not compiling. mmmm...Well, it says here that project A that project B depends on did not compile.

Him: Yea, I noticed that but I didn't think it was an issue.

Me: <stare blankly at him wondering why he was allowed to reproduce, followed by a long sigh>...Lets see why it did not compile.

Him: <Stares blankly>

Me: <Picturing said developer as Daffy Duck being shot repeatedly during the "You keep out of this; He doesn't have to shot you now" bit> The error says you failed to link. You are probably defining a method but not implementing it anywhere (DUMBASS).

Him: But I did no here...

Me: <Wander out without saying more. I don't want to have to write the method too.>

Days like this make me glad I will be working alone and from home soon.