Religion, Politics, Culture: Defined & Explained
§ Website Viewing
Places to visit.
- 1970's Jesus Music
- AM & FM Radio via Web
- Black Irish Band
- Cosumnes Republican Assembly
- Covenant Presbyterian Church
- Drudge Report
- Israel & Mid-East
- Marine Aquarist Roundtable (MARS)
- Paedo Baptism
- Reef Central MARS Forum
- Reformed Episcopal Church
- Right On Daily
- SciFi Channel News
- Walter Martin InfoNet
- Windows Phone Blog
- World Net Daily
Thursday, October 02, 2014
Example of Why Govenment is Going Broke
When bureaucrats “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel” that’s bad. When that bureaucrat is your boss it’s hell. I had that experience yesterday.
My main task at work is to do collections. This isn’t the typical “cold calling” where some guy in New York or Guatemala calls your house at dinnertime and threatens to remove your kneecaps or repo your car. My job is a lot more low keyed that that. I try to collect money from former California state employees that were over paid for a variety of reasons. Truthfully most of these screw-ups are the result of personnel specialists that don’t know what they are doing or that don’t follow-up from one month to the next resulting in an accumulation of unresolved issues. Government employees usually operate by the “squeaky wheel” method so if it doesn’t make noise then it doesn’t get fixed.
Well my department is hemorrhaging money—especially since it is financed out of the General Fund. Democrats try to defund law enforcement in any form since they believe criminals are not really bad people just socioeconomically disadvantaged. As a result, my department is making an effort to collect money owed to them.
The collection process here is anemic when compared to the private sector. In my department, employees owe millions of dollars due to overpayments. I’m tasked with trying to get about 1 ½ million from headquarters employees. (There are over thirty entities in my department with Headquarters being the largest.) Most of this money is never recovered; in part due to the restrictions placed on us by the government. We cannot go after any retirement money or disability payments—even if the employee owes tens of thousands of dollars. We also are bound by a notification statute—if you are not informed that you were overpaid within three years—the state can never go after you. Another constraint—which was removed two years ago—was that even if you owed the state money and everyone knew it, personnel was prohibited from collecting it from your final check unless you voluntarily allowed them to do so. In other words the standing policy was “bill me later”.
Last year, the collection unit for our department recovered about $120,000. It costs the department about double this amount in wages and benefits just to have my unit on the payroll. This collection recovery figure includes not just our efforts but those of the Franchise Tax Board (intercepting tax returns) and a collection agency acting on our behalf. My recollection is that FTB recovered just over four percent of the collection amount given to them while the collection agency recovered about two percent of the amount turned over to them.
Our collection efforts can only be triggered when two conditions are met: the employee has left state service—not just our department—and the first notification letter was sent within the three year statute. We then follow up with three letters sent at 30 day or longer intervals. Only after all letters are sent can we turn the people over to FTB and the collection agency. Typically this period is a two year cycle—at least on paper. The reality is that I have seen people at FTB for over seven years and similar intervals at the collection agency. Often no money is collected. Some people have been thru the collection cycle two and three times. If we don’t have records of previous collection attempts or they are incomplete then management will make us do the whole thing over again. The presumption is that if we don’t have the records then nothing was ever done. The burden is on the former employees to prove that we have already attempted collection.
Historically, management is reluctant to write-off anything once the collection process is complete. Prior to taking on the responsibility of Headquarters a few months ago, another agency that I had responsibility for had items in collections dating back to 1998—these are still actively in the collection process.
Once that first letter is made, we will periodically hound former employees. Death is not a barrier to our collection efforts. I often sent letters to dead people that read in part, “Should you return to State service, SCO will notify the Department you have reinstated with to pursue collection of your overpayment to CDCR.”
This job is not very difficult once the work is organized. I am confident that I sent more collection letters out last month than the rest of my unit put together. Let’s just say that Rush Limbaugh is not the only guy that shows up to work every day with “half his brain tied behind his back just to make it fair”.
Typically, personnel will not generate one collection letter for everything on an employee’s account but letters are generated individually or in small batches for most items. Occasionally, other items occur after the collection process has begun. We have no control over this process. 30 days after the first letters are generated and sent to the employee, responsibility falls on my unit to continue the collection process.
Yesterday, my supervisor refused to sign the collection letters for two employees because we were missing collection letters for items on their accounts. My reaction was, really? I try to do my best when generating these letters so I took a look at the accounts to see what the issue was. I was incredulous. The amounts necessary to halt collection were thirteen and fifty-nine cents respectively.
Just so you understand what my supervisor was demanding… I was expected to send emails to each personnel specialist instructing them to complete the forms for .13 and .59 cents. The forms were then to be placed in envelopes, stamped and mailed to the employees. A copy of each letter would then need to be scanned and attached in the accounting program with the original filed in the employee’s personnel file. Then I would have to wait for 30 days before continuing collections. Yeah, I know: postage and an envelope cost more than that but this is the government.
As a taxpayer and a human being, this instruction was offensive. Instead, I printed copies of the accounting items and then taped a dime, nickel and two pennies to the item for seventeen cents and the taped two quarters, a nickel and four pennies to the other document for fifty-nine cents and submitted them for deposit. Once the payment is posted I can continue collections on the employees.
I have the satisfaction that I saved the taxpayers a few dollars and denied a few bureaucrats a pyric victory by letting common sense triumph over process.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Isis 1970’s v 2014
When I was a kid, this was the face of Isis.
Today, this is the face of ISIS: Jahadi John
Who in this country thinks a few drone strikes will stop these guys?
Isn’t he wearing the same outfit that they want all women to wear?
How will Obama screw up this threat to civilization?
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Buying a New Car
Buying a new car is not something that I was looking forward to doing; however, the 22 year old daughter finally decided that depending on others to get her around town was not working. As I told the wife many years ago, “As long as mommy will drop everything to taxi her daughter around, she will not be interested in getting a license. Only when she is inconvenienced enough will she be motivated to learn to drive.” Well that day is finally upon us. The daughter is paying a professional instructor to learn to drive. The target for her to get the license was mid-September. I had told the children that they can have my Jeep Liberty whenever they get their license. It is clear the day was at hand so a week and a half before Labor Day, I set out to get a new vehicle for myself. I had not planned to blog on this but I think others can learn from my experiences.
I spent much of my time on the Kelly Blue Book http://www.kbb.com/ website. I also utilized J.D. Powers and YouTube for supplemental information.
My initial parameters were: a price near $22 K and better mileage than the Liberty which gets 13 City & 17 Highway. In addition I wanted something like my wife’s Ford Sync and navigation.
From my research I compiled the following list of vehicles to look at:
Once I had a list, I began to test drive various vehicles. This is where things began to get strange. I am listing my experiences in chronological order.
Elk Grove Ford (Wednesday)
I like my wife’s Ford C-Max both for its mileage and technology. The Ford Sync system is really great. I started at the Ford dealer where we had purchased the C-Max about a year before. I walked on the lot about 90 percent ready to buy a Fiesta or Focus with the Titanium options package. (This is the high end option package and the only one offering both Sync and navigation.) The sales guy that I got was new. You can tell by how he acted and the fact that he was on the lot a 7 p.m. on a weekday which was when I arrived. He could not locate the vehicle that I has seen online prior to visiting their lot—this occurred many times during my visits at various dealerships. The lot was poorly lit and the vehicle that I finally was allowed to sit in had no lock cylinder in the steering column; thus it was not drivable. I left the lot without ever test driving anything. The sales guy said that they had “loss leaders” in the Saturday paper so check there and I might get lucky. Had he shown me what I wanted to see and then let me drive it, I probably would have purchased it that night. I went home and spoke with my wife about the experience and that is when the above list was created.
Elk Grove Kia (Thursday)
The following day after work I went to Elk Grove Kia. The salesman there was nice and knew his product much better than the Ford guys. The test drive was good and the inside was roomy. The Kia Soul also had the options that I was looking for without having to buy their highest end options package. My wife arrived after work and was able to go on a second test drive in the vehicle. Later we looked up the J.D. Powers rating and a video review on the Internet, this car was moved to the top of my list.
Sacramento Hyundai (Friday)
The day after completing the Kia test drive we went to look at the Hyundai Veloster. But first we had to find the dealership. The map on their website was their old location—which they had left about three years ago; however, the physical address was correct and about three miles away. The fact that they couldn’t even update their website was a harbinger of things to come. On paper the Veloster vehicle looked unique and sporty. The three door feature and overall exterior seemed like it was worth a look. The Hyundai is one of several vehicles that I had trouble getting into. When seated behind the wheel, my head hit the roof. I’m only 5’ 10” and this was never an issue in the past. (It was several times during my vehicle search.) The interior dimensions were incredibly small. The manufacturing materials and design quality were poor. The car felt cheaply done. The drive was by far the worst of any vehicle. I’ve run lawnmowers with more horsepower than this car. I had trouble getting the car up to the 45 mph speed limit of the road in front of the dealership. The other turn-off we found out about Hyundai is that their navigation system is not free; it is one of several subscription services that you must have to keep things working. They have a service comparable to GM’s OnStar which also requires a subscription.
Elk Grove Honda
We fled the Hyundai dealer for another trip to the Elk Grove Auto Mall. We then visited the Honda dealership. The Fit was much smaller than Kia’s Soul. It also had a small engine and noticeably less power. Once seated in this car, I also hit my head on the roof of the car. A seat adjustment was able to correct this somewhat but one would think the sale folks would stage the car so this is not even an issue for buyers. The sales guy did a good job of demonstrating the various configurations of storage in the Fit; however, the part about the passenger seat lying flat so you could sleep in the car was a feature only unsupervised teenagers would enjoy to the fullest. (To do this the headrest was not attached but laying behind the seat.) The Honda dealer was the first of several that we encountered that would not sell us the vehicle at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. On a separate piece of paper right next to the factory label was another label with options added by the dealership. We were told that all vehicles sold by the dealer included these options. The options were not necessary and added several thousand dollars to the sales price. The entertainment/navigation system was very Apple centric and the video display was very small. The salesman was nice but their business model of additional mark-ups and Apple centric cars were a turnoff.
Elk Grove Nissan
Again, going to a dealership after sunset proved to be a surreal experience. This time my wife and I were greeted by the Wonder Twins. We were interested in seeing the Nissan Juke. We were greeted by a female who asked if we wanted sales or service. We were directed to a male sales person. The young girl that had greeted us was also trying to help us. We told them what we were interested in which was 2014 with rebate, navigation, etc. We were directed to a 2013 model Juke; there were no 2014s on the lot and 2015 models had not arrived yet. We test drove this vehicle only to find out afterwards that it was not even a front-wheel drive—which is what we asked for—but an all-wheel drive. So after doing all the research online and telling the sales folks what we were wanting to see, we were shown the wrong model year, with the wrong transmission and the wrong features. As we were experiencing this Nissan dealership, I kept whispering to my wife that this was the automobile equivalent of Hotel Hell. These folks could use the intervention of Gordon Ramsey or Mike Holmes to turn this place around. Dysfunction Junction should be the address of this dealership.
Roseville Auto Maul (Saturday)
On Saturday morning, my wife got up about 6 A.M. and for the first time in our eleven year marriage; she bought a copy of the Sacramento Bee…just to see the auto ads. Elk Grove Ford did have some “loss leader” cars as I was told, with a few offered with “one at this price” disclaimer, but none had the features that I was looking for. We decided to see what we could find at the Roseville Auto Mall. We ate breakfast and piled into the car with our nine year old and drove up to Roseville. We found the Kia dealer on the car’s map; however, trying to get into the auto mall was our first challenge. We headed down Lead Hill Rd and ended-up doing a complete circle around the whole area before finding the entrance—there is only one way in and out of the Mall.
Roseville Mitsubishi Kia
We went first to the Kia dealership to see a Soul with the features were looking for; namely, an Exclaim with sun roof and upgraded stereo package with navigation but NO leather seats. We actually test drove two different Souls. The cars on the Kia lot however were not for sale at the manufacturer’s suggested retail (sticker) price because once again there was an additional sticker next to the factory one. The additional sticker said, “Dealer markup” and added almost three thousand dollars to the vehicle price. We asked about the sticker and were told it was for rent, sales commissions and advertising. The implication was Kia was leaving them penniless without the additional money garnered from this markup which by the way Elk Grove Kia does not have on their cars.
We next went to the Nissan dealer to see the Sentra. I actually sat in three different cars at the dealership. The cars on the lot were so packed together that the first ones I looked at were not able to get to the street for a test drive. Like the Hyundai, these were cheap looking and the interiors were not well constructed. All three cars had visible defects in the plastic parts of the interior. The cars were cramped. If I recall correctly my head was hitting the roof or close to doing so. This was not my recollection of my 1980 Sentra that got 48 mpg Highway. As for features, I could duct tape my cell phone to the dash and have a better navigation experience—including screen size—than that offered by Nissan. I was disappointed.
Next we went to the Ford dealer at the Roseville Auto Mall. By the time it was over, this was by far the most miserable experience and biggest waste of time of the entire car shopping adventure. Our visit was in two parts separated by a very nice lunch at the Squeeze Inn in Roseville.
Visit #1 we had a nice sales person who was probably in his 50’s. We initially asked to look at the Focus that I had been denied test driving in Elk Grove several days before. After further examination, the sales guy had us talked into looking at a Fusion. We took the Fusion for a test drive and wow. This car had the best acceleration and smoothest ride of any car I drove. The interior was roomy to boot. It was not equipped as we wanted and did not come with the rebates we had hoped for since it was a 2015 and not a 2014. I had decided my list had been reduced to a Fusion or Soul. Since by now it was lunch time, we agreed to meet after we took a lunch break. When in Roseville, we typically eat at the Squeeze Inn; mostly because they have good food and also because they are right down the street from Fry’s Electronics.
Visit #2 started an hour and a half later with us meeting up with our salesman only to find he was with another customer that had previously made an appointment with him. He briefed another sales guy and handed us off to him. This new sales guy was a kid in his mid-20’s. All this kid had to do was find a 2014 with the features that we wanted and tell us about the great rebates that we knew Ford was offering for the Labor Day holiday and he stood a 95 percent chance of closing the sale. As we talked with him, we learned that he had played football at San Jose State. As badly as he dropped the ball on this sale, I can see why he is no longer playing football. He wandered aimlessly around the lot looking at stickers to find us a 2014 with the features that we asked for. Not once did he consult another sales person or a computer to check inventory. Previously we learned that in addition to this lot they had another one nearby with another 500 cars on it. Not finding the car we wanted, he led us inside the dealership and he and this other guy tried to flip us into considering a used car. In the course of this discussion, they asked us for a twelve thousand dollar down payment knowing full well that we had no car to trade because the old one was going to our college aged daughter. We were repeated insulted and finally walked out. Once they saw us get up to leave, they continued to ignore what we had asked for and offer us other vehicles we were not interested in. Never once did the offer us a 2014 with the features we wanted and furthermore they never offered us any rebates when I know for a fact that the rebates available totaled over $4,500. These guys were abusive and rude. If Yelp does car sales I would give them a zero.
On the way out of Roseville, we called our Kia salesman in Elk Grove. Much to our surprise and delight—in the few days since we has been there—they had received a new car shipment that included a Soul with the Exclaim package and no leather seats. We headed over to the dealer and took it for a test drive. We began filling out papers for purchasing the car. At 5 pm, our credit union’s loan approval folks were all gone and we could not get approved for 2.9 percent as we were promised. The dealer wanted us to complete paperwork for 4.9 percent with the promise that once we were approved we could have the lower rate of 2.9. We rejected the idea of completing the paperwork at the higher interest rate and said we would wait for the credit union’s approval. Shortly after 10 A.M. on Sunday, we got the call that our loan was approved at the 2.9 percent rate. That afternoon we returned to the Kia dealership and finished the paperwork. Finally, on Sunday evening I was able to drive home in a new 2015 Kia Soul.
The Kia Soul is a wonderful vehicle and fun to drive. I have yet to see anything close to the 31 mpg Highway that the EPA puts on the sticker. I’m getting about 24 mpg with the ECO feature on. Oh, Kia did give me a discount for being a veteran—something no one else ever offered me.
I hope that some readers of this blog might learn from my experience.
• Don’t pay more than the sticker price on any new car
• Know when to walk away
• Don’t be pressured or bullied by sales people or their “closers”
• Stick to your budget
• Know what interest rate that you can finance before shopping
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Adobe Acrobat Error 0:104 Fixed
Here’s what I learned at work today.
PC Configuration and Problem Symptoms
PC with Acrobat and Acrobat Reader both installed; Acrobat older version than Reader. In my case Acrobat 9 and Reader 11.
Employee has PDF form that is supposed to be filled-out automatically in web browser. In my instance it was a deposit form from State Treasurer website. When trying to generate deposit slip with numbers from the website, employee gets this error message:
There is a problem with Adobe Acrobat/Reader.
It is running, please exit and try again. (0:104)
It took three hours but the fix is easy. It is in two parts.
1. Registry Edit
a.Run Regedit as Admin
b.Navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Software\Adobe\Acrobat\Exe
d.From “C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat 9.0\Acrobat\Adobe.exe” to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Reader11.0\Reader\AdoRD32.exe”
2. Acrobat Reader
a.Open Acrobat Reader
b.Go to Edit > Preferences > Security (Enhanced)
c.Click on Host button
d.Enter website address where form data is coming from (copy and paste from web browser)
Step 1 changes default only for opening documents in web browser from Acrobat to Acrobat Reader. You do not need to change file associations in Control Panel. Step 2 should get rid of security prompt when opening PDF populated with data in the web browser othwise you may need to refresh the page.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Amazon.com Music Cloud Album Confusion
I have been using the Amazon Cloud for music but it has shortcomings that apparently they don’t have any interest in fixing.
• The most obvious is that you can’t edit or reject the album cover that they wish to assign to your music. (See below for examples).
• Secondly, I can find no easy way to distinguish between music sources. Which songs did I buy from them and which did I upload myself?
• Lastly, whatever happened to matching music and letting me get a digital copy that would replace and LP that I ripped myself?
This English “boy band” was a big seller in Europe but this ripped CD clearly has the wrong cover.
Johnny Depp’s short lived singing career is mistaken for The Carpenters! Does Amazon think he looks more like Karen or Richard?
Rod Stewart is two or three decades after the folks listed on this album cover.
Sweet Comfort Band is not Foreigner. Again, this CD purchased in Canada somehow misses the mark.
While the Cornerstone article on Mike Warnke mentions his partying after shows, I don’t think Word ever had this as a draft cover for his comedy LPs.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Red Robin: Faulty Family Fare
I took the family to the local Red Robin restaurant yesterday for dinner. It is the first time in over a year that we have visited them. The experience was unsatisfactory.
We waited twenty minutes for a table—which is not that unusual—even when several tables were not in use. Our waitress was not very good. We never did get napkins or silverware brought to our table—even after food was served. I had to get up and walk over to the food prep area and get them from another employee. Later I had to go back to get mustard for the wife. The food was noticeable smaller portions than it used to be and was not prepared the same way. No attempt was made to garnish the plates or show pride in the food. Also, the “bottomless French fries” weren’t very bottomless when they never brought them out right away and kept the basket full. (Our teenager eats French fries by the handful.) Our $55 outing (for four) was disappointing. Pizza would have been cheaper.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Who Took the Gun to the Lego Movie?
I went to the local theater on Monday to take the boys to the Lego Movie. We were meeting another party there so I bought tickets for all of us. I left the teenager to meet his friends out front while little brother and I went inside to save some seats. (It was clear the early show was filling quickly since it was the President’s Day holiday.)
After securing seats, I called the teenager and told him what great seats we had taken. He then informed me that his friends were on the way with an extra person. He told me he had already tried to get an extra ticket but the show was now sold out. Much to my disappointment, this was a package deal and we all needed to sit together in the same showing; since that was no longer possible, I reluctantly left the theater and proceeded to get a refund for the show.
As my younger son and I stood in line to get the refund, I noticed the kids in front of me pick something up that was on the ground, play with it for a few seconds and then drop it again. I looked at the object on the ground in disbelief. I asked my son to pick it up. I then asked him if it was metal. He replied I think so. I then took it from his hand. It was a large bullet for a powerful pistol. (I later learned that it was likely a 38 Special round.) It was about the diameter of my pinkie finger and the casing was about an inch and ¾ long. The bullet was a concave shape.
After completing my refund, I took the bullet and gave it to a security guy at the theater and then we left.
I believe in the Second Amendment—more even than many Conservatives—but no responsible citizen would be dropping live ammo on the ground for small children to play with. I don’t think the owner of that bullet is responsible enough to be “packin’ heat” in public.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Merry Christmas 2013
For unto us a child is born , unto us a son is given : and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor , The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9: 6 & 7
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Redefined Soon: Dog is Man’s Best Friend
A few years ago, Paul Shanklin did a parody of a man taking wedding vows with his dog. What was a whitty jab at judges changing the definition of marriage a few years ago has taken several large steps toward reality during the first half of this month.
On Monday, a Federal Judge struck down parts of the anti-polygamy laws in Utah.
A federal judge in Utah has struck down part of that state’s law banning polygamy, after a lawsuit was brought by the stars of the television reality series “Sister Wives.” The ruling late Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups threw out the law’s section prohibiting “cohabitation,” saying it violates constitutional guarantees of due process and religious freedom.
Elsewhere, the decision was explained as striking down the polygamy law because the law limited freedom of association in violation of the First Amendment. Kody Brown and his four wives, who gained notoriety in the reality TV show “Sister Wives,” are challenging Utah’s bigamy statute, claiming it is unconstitutional because it violates their constitutional rights to due process, equal protection, free exercise of religion, free speech and freedom of association.
OK, so polygamy is now allowed under the First Amendment as a freedom. However, this decision says that a man can still only have one marriage license.
Those of us who support marriage as being between one man and one woman have been saying that the next domino to fall would be prohibitions on polygamy. Clearly, those floodgates are about to burst if they have not already. To decriminalize polygamy is a de facto judicial approval of the behavior.
Next to follow is why limit such loving arrangements to one man and several women. This clearly is discriminatory. What if a women wants multiple men simultaneously? While it might strike at the financial empires of Hugh Hefner and Larry Flint, clearly this is a reasonable corollary once polygamy is allowed. Soon any random assortment of consenting adults will be allowed to play house however they would like.
While this exponential decay of traditional marriage is underway, a second movement is also in the works. When combined to the above discussion, this get really weird because it opens up the possibility of legalizing bestiality.
I would like to introduce the other cutting edge movement that is gaining momentum on the fringe Left; personhood. No sadly, this has nothing to do with recognizing that all the unborn children aborted each year are baby humans. This also has nothing to do with the ethics of euthanasia. Instead the enlightened members of the Ivy League Left are pushing the recognition of the personhood of sentient animals.
Enter Yale University and the “Personhood Beyond the Human Conference” This event held December 6-8, 2013 was described by organizers as:
This historic event will focus on personhood for nonhuman animals, including great apes, cetaceans, and elephants, and will explore evolving notions of personhood by analyzing them through the frameworks of neuroscience, behavioral science, philosophy, ethics, and law. http://nonhumanrights.net/
The event featured the crazy bioethicist, Peter Singer. Singer is the guy who advocates that children that are born should not be declared “human” until they pass rigorous testing. Those children that fail to measure-up as human should be destroyed. “Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person…” http://www.princeton.edu/~psinger/faq.html In short, Singer is the poster child for the eugenics movement of the 21st Century.
Here is another quote from the abstract page of the non-human rights web site. “Legal personhood for animals would symbolize and institutionalize the intrinsic value of animals and, furthermore, offer significant procedural advantages.” - Saskia L. Stucki
Once whales, dolphins, elephants, and apes are made legally equivalent to humans—which is one of the chief goals of the conference—then it won’t be long before Fido is added to the list. Every movement needs a face people can love to sell the idea to the masses, what better poster being for this movement than the family dog. Yes, Lassie and Snoopy will be the gateway pets to proving the personhood of canines to the public.
Once the ideas of the Personhood conference gain traction and are combined with the definitions of marriage (and family) being developed by the courts then it is reasonable that an animal could be included into the definition of a family. To exclude such sentient beings from being equal partners in our families is “Speciesist”. If things continue as they are, the day is coming soon when a dog will truly be man’s best friend.
Here are a few passages from the “Good Book” that come to mind on this topic.
And God said , Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful , and multiply , and replenish the earth, and subdue it : and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 1: 26-28
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled : therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants .
Leviticus 18: 23-25.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving 2013
Hope everyone has a good holiday.
Here is a quick item to put a smile on your face.
A few days ago, I asked my son if he knew what “Black Friday” was?
He answered, “Isn’t that the day Jesus died?”
You can’t really say he is wrong. I think it puts the Christmas season in a better context and helps remind me that this time of the year is not about “retail therapy”. Please remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. Stryper has a song by that name and I think I’ll give it a listen.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Cattle Call with Michael Savage
Radio Talk Show Host Michael Savage
Recently I spent two days with Michael Savage. OK, I actually only saw him for about ten minutes over the course of two days, the remainder of the time I was camped outside his front door. He made me swear not to say anything until he was thru with me. I did as he requested. Now that I have been released from my obligation, I wanted to share the experience.
This actually all started about six weeks ago. I was surprised to get a personalized invitation complete with a pre-paid parking pass. (We all know what a premium there is on big city parking spaces.) My employer was willing to let me go with pay so I had no excuse not to attend.
I consulted the appropriate website for instructions and reported at 8 AM as requested. I ended up being in a group of 150 folks. The room where Michael held court was so small that we had to enter in two groups of 75. Michael was actually in the room when I entered. He greeted us and then his secretary swore us to secrecy. Michael then dismissed us to wait in the hallway and called in the next group.
My experience was nothing like you see on television or the movies. Michael was actually statesman like and even tempered. However, his time management skills were not very good. It’s no wonder that he has people to cover for that deficiency.
The cafeteria in the building where he works is a cash only business so at lunch I opted for alternatives within walking distance. (Magic plastic is my currency of choice when traveling.)
The other thing I learned was that he really likes to take Fridays off. I never knew he liked golfing but what else do professionals like him do during the week when they aren’t working.
Michaels’ producer was named Josh and I actually interacted more with him than with Michael. I had flashbacks to my Navy days with all the hurry-up and waiting that I experienced.
As you might have surmised by now, I was not hanging with the radio talk show host but with a superior court judge while auditioning to serve on a jury. Since I was number 144 out of 150, I knew I would not be on the panel.
After the jury gig was concluded, I looked him up on Google. I found that Judge Savage seems willing to throw the book at folks that deserve it. He is best known in the media for his comments on the failures of child protective services.
In a searing condemnation of CPS, the judge recounted repeated failures to save the little girl from months of beatings that eventually killed her and sent her mother and Martin, the mother’s live-in boyfriend, off to prison.
“There is not the slightest evidence in this case that the protection or safety of Valeeya or her brother was ever a priority, or even a significant concern, for the agency or the caseworker charged with their protection”…
Judge Savage and I also have a mutual acquaintance; former NFL player Keith Wright. Wright spent several years playing professional football. His last team was the Detroit Lions. Wright was disabled as a result of injuries sustained in the NFL and was attending the MBA program at the University of Phoenix when I met him. A few years later, Wright was sentenced by Judge Savage to life in prison.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Savage sentenced Keith Wright to 114 years to life, plus 120 years and eight months in prison.
Last month, Wright, 32, was convicted by jury of 19 charges, including forcible oral copulation, armed robbery, kidnapping, first -degree burglary, and false imprisonment for a series of crimes last year.
On July 21, Aug. 8, and Aug. 21 of 2011, Wright committed three home invasion robberies in the Natomas area. Each time, Wright threatened the victims with a firearm, demanding money and property.
During one of the robberies, Wright sexually assaulted and kidnapped the female victim, forcing her to drive to two different banks and withdraw money.
Wright was determined to be a suspect in the Aug. 8 robbery after it was discovered he exchanged rare foreign currency stolen during that robbery at a currency exchange business. He was linked to the Aug. 21 robbery and sexual assault through DNA analysis.
Property from each of the victims was found during a search of Wright’s home.
Michael Savage, the judge, looks more like Sam Waterston from the TV show Law and Order than the radio talk show host. I found an internet article stating that Savage is also a long distance runner.
Actor Sam Waterston from NBC’s Law and Order
My brief time with him was interesting but I’m glad to be back at work.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Proposal to Illustrate National Debt
Many people have tried to reduce the astronomical size of the national debt to something that Rush’s “low information voters” can understand. Many such attempts revolve around trying to equate our nation’s debt to household budgets and credit cards but this doesn’t really do the whole discussion justice.
I wish to advocate a different approach. Let’s embrace the largeness of the debt and explain it in a way that regular Americans can understand it. Three levels of debt that need to be illustrated are national, state, and local government.
I would like to see the debt displayed similarly to this map of 2012 election results by county.
My idea is to display how much American real estate would need to be sold to the Chinese or whoever in order to pay down the debt. The map would need four colors, one color for each level of government debt and a fourth color to show what is leftover. If you really want to illustrate the point, you could do two maps, one current debt and the other all the unfunded obligations that government has made.
For dramatic effect, start the map on the western shores of the Mississippi River and let’s see if anything remains of “flyover country”. I think it would be an interesting exercise. Perhaps we could literally show that the government has mortgaged the future of our citizens in a way even “baby-boomers” could understand.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Another Greig Supporter Quits CRA
Today Craig Alexander went public with a letter stating that he resigned from all the CRA Board and leadership posts that he currently holds.
… my resignation as a Vice President that go beyond my no longer carrying that title. I also resign from all committees of the CRA Board of Directors including the CRA Special Litigation Committee…
I also resign as the Chairman of the OC CRA President’s Council. I resign as the Chairman of the OC CRA Elections Committee and from the committee itself.
Craig is an attorney that has been involved in CRA for many years. Recently he has found himself on the losing end of several votes. At the April 2013 Convention, he was a backer of Celeste Greig for CRA President and more recently, he tried to thwart the de-chartering of the Republican Assembly of the Greater Santa Clarita Valley. Once it was clear that RAGSCV would be de-chartered, he and fellow attorney Chris Mays tried to bifurcate the issue so the territory for this club would still exist and allow for a reconstituted group to take its place. This was subsequently slapped down by the CRA Board on its July 4th vote.
In the process of de-chartering this second Santa Clarita group—which was chartered over the top of an existing club—the Sergeant at Arms revealed that he was aware that this second Santa Clarita group was created as punishment because the existing club in Santa Clarita did not support Celeste Greig in her Presidential contest versus Karen England. Reportedly, had things gone according to plan, this smaller group would eventually be given much if not all of the Santa Clarita area at the expense of the larger group. However, the plan never moved on to that stage.
As documented elsewhere, Celeste Greig and Steve Frank were among the ring leaders of this plan that was executed in 2011. At the special CRA Board meeting to de-charter RAGSCV on June 22, 2013, the Sergeant at Arms stated he knew about this conspiracy back in 2011 and not until later did he decide that this was wrong. That is why in 2013 he was working to correct this injustice to the existing RA Chapter in Santa Clarita.
The irony is that this unpunished confession by the Sergeant at Arms—which Craig Alexander claims lead to his resign from the Board—would not have been revealed if Alexander had not tried to derail the proceedings at the June Special Board meeting. The Sergeant at Arms felt that without his revelation to the Board that the vote to de-charter the fraudulent unit might fail. He spoke to get others at the meeting to understand the seriousness of the wrong that had been committed. In 2011, he stood silently on the sidelines and did not object but now he needed to speak-out to right the wrong that he had been secretly laboring to correct.
Here is a portion of Alexander’s email from June 30th:
During the board meeting we were discussing and debating the topic of the proposed de-chartering of the Republican Assembly of the Greater Santa Clarita Valley (RAGSCV). RAGSCV had been created in July 2011. As it turned out there were irregularities with the unit’s creation and territory as it impinged upon SCVRA’s territory. There were many facts to sort out and I was also concerned about the manner in which the review of this situation had been conducted. It would be fair to say that the meeting was contentious and I (and others) asked more than one pointed question of the people involved on both sides.
During that discussion Sgt. At Arms Aaron Park (who was in favor of the de-chartering of the newer RAGSCV unit) stood up and told the entire board that he had lied to the board about the newer unit that was being considered for de-chartering. That after the April 2011 CRA convention, that he and two other Board members (who are no longer on the CRA board) decided to promote and create the new unit on top of the older unit as punishment for the SCVRA’s support of another candidate for CRA President during the 2011 convention. Vice President Steve Macias posted this on his blog post:
“After over an hour of lively debate before the board, Sergeant-at-Arms Aaron Park stepped forward to lend clarity to his role in the chartering of the RAGSCV. Aaron explained that the charter was intentionally pushed through against the bylaws for “political revenge.” Aaron elaborated that the new group was part of a plot to retaliate against the SCVRA’s refusal to support President Celeste Greig. “Bob Hauter, Steve Frank, and I lied,” confessed Park. “We perpetrated a lie, we lied to the board of directors. We knew what we were doing.” To date, Park is the only one to come forward.” (http://www.stevemacias.com/end-of-cra-drama/)
Like everyone else at that meeting, I was shocked by these statements. Right after he made these statements, I asked Aaron publicly if he was tendering his resignation from the board. Mr. Park did not offer his reisgation. We then voted on the de-chartering issue.
Alexander then spent the rest of his June 30 email trying to make Aaron Park the issue instead of the fraudulent CRA chapter. His lawyerly tactic was that a vote to give the territory formerly held by the de-charter RAGSCV back to the older Santa Clarita RA was somehow a vote to support Park. He asked Board members that agreed with him to switch their vote to “Abstain” and let him know via email that we agreed with him.
Thus I would ask of you two things:
1. 1. Cast your vote to Rohit Joy to ABSTAIN on the vote for the SCVRA units territory;
2. 2. Send only to me a separate reply to this message if you agree or disagree with my conclusions about Mr. Park needing to be off the CRA Board of Directors and off these committee assignments.
Alexander’s resignation letter today was again about Park. His four page letter can be summarized thusly, “if the Board won’t go after Park then I quit”.
Were Alexander some sort of innocent and disinterested party in all this then I might be more inclined to agree with him; however, he is not. Craig Alexander has been up to his armpits in intrigue at various times in CRA.
What? Political groups have intrigue? That’s a surprise? … NOT.
Craig has been involved in CRA Black Ops for a long time. He hasn’t been willing to volunteer the information but the “Sith Lord” has the goods on him should it come to that.
My point is not that I can play tit-for-tat with the best of them but that this bickering has to end. Someone has to be the first to be wronged and not retaliate. There is no such thing as “perfect justice” in this life. God is the one that balances all things at the end.
How does an unending quest for purity—be it ideological or ethical—help to grow a group? It can’t. We are all human. We are often wrong and wrong others. We act with only partial information and usually see only our perspective or see it as best anyway.
Somewhere, somehow, we need to turn a corner and adopt a different paradigm of doing things. Yes, Aaron was wrong and did a bad thing or at least acted badly. However, he is one of the few folks in CRA that has owned-up to his actions. Greig, Frank and others just threw a tantrum then picked-up their stuff and left. To this day, they admit no fault.
I know Aaron. He is often full of bluster and bravado. You know where he stands on any issue. I think he means well but sometimes he acts with his emotions and not his intellect. (Don’t we all?) Aaron is trying to influence the political process and on occasion does make mistakes. Nevertheless, he has a good track record and access to information this is often not public knowledge.
Unlike Mr. Alexander, I don’t want to call a special meeting of the CRA Board to throw Aaron out on his butt. Yes, I think Aaron needs more scrutiny in the future and I fully expect him to get it. Aaron is one person on a Board that can number over 100 people.
To me, the difference between Alexander and Park is easily distinguished.
On numerous occasions, Celeste Greig and her minions (including Craig Alexander) failed to follow the rules. In difficult situations, Celeste typically used an ends justifies the means approach. I don’t recall one instance where Alexander publicly called-out Greig for her lawlessness or cavalier attitude towards corporate bylaws and ethical behavior. As a result of the silence of Alexander and others, Greig caused much damage to not only the CRA but the Republican brand in California. At least Park saw the error of his ways and worked to correct the excesses of Greig’s antinomian behavior.
John Briscoe is trying to put an end to past wrongs and wrongdoing and start fresh so CRA can finally begin to grow. I think Briscoe should be given the chance to lead. I think Board members from Greig’s time as President—even Aaron Park—should be allowed on the Board, just not as a majority.
Monday, July 08, 2013
The Lone Ranger Movie
As a kid I used to watch The Lone Ranger TV show starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. The show originally aired from 1949 to 1957. (Yes, I watched it in re-runs.) Prior to that, the program had a very long run as a radio program—1933 to 1954. Wikipedia has a good article on the topic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lone_Ranger
Last weekend I went to see the new Disney version with Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in the title roles. I had read that Despicable Me 2 was creaming it at the box office. I was shocked to read that the film cost over 250 million. I mean, it’s a movie about two guys that ride horses not X-Wing Fighters.
Between the information that I had read and the fact that Depp is almost as odd as Tim Burton, I was not sure what I was going to see. The team that had made Disney’s Pirates films was behind this version of The Lone Ranger. Was this group the right ones to take on the iconic Ranger?
There is a claim that movies often tell you more about who made them and what their views are than what the movie is about; even if it is set in another time period. This film is another such example. John Reid (a.k.a. The Lone Ranger) is portrayed as metrosexual that is afraid of using force or fighting for what is right. Only the coaxing of Tonto (played by Depp) and circumstances force the Ranger to slowly embrace his destiny. The writers of this movie should have read at least one book by Louis L’Amour and watched a few episodes of the old TV show.
Johnny Depp was given latitude to improvise and try to be funny, but his back-story was a repudiation of the portrayal given by Jay Silverheels. Basically the only reason that he hung-out with the Ranger was that the Indians would not have him because he was mentally unbalanced. In Ranger lore, Tonto was saved by the Ranger when both were kids and later Tonto was able to save the Ranger. They had a bond based on the virtues of honor and self sacrifice. Both men represented what was best and operated from a code of ethics that guided their conduct.
The Lone Ranger also suffered from another flaw. This is yet another offering from a large media conglomerate that portrayed all other for profit corporations as evil. Why does Hollywood portray corporations as evil but people are all just various shades of gray? The Ranger lived in a world of black and white; right and wrong. Railroad bashing seemed like a lazy foe from writers that were unwilling to have bad guys be the villains instead of pawns for evil corporate interests.
Also, the army as allies of the bad guys is not consistent with the universe where the Ranger lived. The Army can be delayed or even deceived but for them to willingly be allied with bad guys seems a violation of the established cannon of the golden age of westerns.
This movie reminded me of the Green Hornet movie a few years ago. It was a bad attempt to introduce an iconic hero to the 21st century moviegoer. Ironically, the creators of The Lone Ranger also created the Green Hornet. Per the Wikipedia article above, the Ranger was actually an Uncle of the Hornet.
Lastly, I doubt that few people under forty have ever seen the Clayton Moore/Jay Silverheels portrayal of the Ranger. Disney wrongly assumed that everyone knew who the Ranger was and had a favorable image of him.
The reality was that this movie was not a salute to the Ranger but a parody. The writing was weak and formulaic. I really wanted to like this movie; however, my advice, save your money and catch it on Netflix.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Ultima IX Ascension on 64 bit Windows 8
I’m writing this blog to chronicle my attempts to run this Windows 98 game from 1999 on a modern PC. Nothing that I could find on the Internet seemed to have all the answers in one location. I hope this will help others wishing to run this program.
First off my equipment.
• I own a licensed copy of Ultima IX. Due to some bugs at the time of its release, I also have a second install disk that was sent to me by Origin. This is an installation disk of the final version, 1.18.
• I also have access to two PCs, I will explain why in a short while.
• I found VMware Player a necessary asset but not for the reasons that you think.
• Lastly, I had a full version of Windows 98 Second Edition and a bootable DOS 6.22 CD.
Summary of my adventures.
First, Ultima IX Setup will not run at all on my Windows 8 PC. Not straight out of the box and not in any compatibility mode that is offered in Windows 8. I had feared that I might be dealing with the fact that 16 bit code won’t run on a 64 bit OS but Ultima seems to be a 32 bit game.
I kept reading on the Internet that people were able to get it running. Of those that said it worked on newer versions of Windows none ever mentioned that they actually owned the game. I don’t make a habit of stealing games or getting them from illegal download websites. Also, many websites mentioned a home brewed patch dubbed 1.19 which I did decide to try.
Since Ultima was made for Windows 98 SE, I decided to try VMware to see if I could get the old OS to run. Windows 8 comes with Hyper-V virtualization software which I had used to setup Windows XP. Hyper-V will not support old Microsoft Operating Systems like 95, 98, ME. Unfortunately, VMware cannot exist on the same PC as Hyper-V unless you want to crash your operating system or create an environment that looks a lot like a dual boot OS.
As a result, I installed VMware Player on my Windows Home Sever 2011. The install was quick and I knew enough about virtualization that running it was rather simple.
Getting Windows 98 installed was a relative pain. I could not boot off the 98 CD even though it is the full version for new PCs. My recollection was that you needed a DOS boot disk to start the process. Believe it or not, I actually created a bootable CD for DOS 6.22 about the same time as Ultima was actually released. I popped the disk into the DVD player and then ran FDISK to create a partition and then ran FORMAT /S to get thing going. Then I put the 98 SE disk into the computer and ran Setup.
This worked well until it was time to detect hardware and the associated registry entries and then I got a message that the computer could not read from drive A. (Bootable CDs are treated as the A drive.) I terminated the install and rebooted the virtual machine. The 98 installation resumed and finished with no further problems.
After starting 98 in VMware; however, my virtual machine had no sound. I hunted online and found that installing a driver for Creative Labs Sound Blaster fixed the problem. http://www.techbug.com/en/knowledge-base/289/
Now I was ready to install Ultima. I was able to get thru the two CD installation. The last step is configuring the video and that is where my hopes were dashed. After several days of hacking and searching on the web, I was crushed to learn that VMware does not support 3D video rendering in Windows 95, 98 or ME.
Ok, so here I am with Windows 8 not letting me install the program one my computer and Ultima on my Home Sever installed in a virtual machine that doesn’t support the game. It was enough to break my heart. And then yesterday I saw a post that was my epiphany. I then knew how to turn my lemons into lemonade. Here is the post.
Re: Autorun problems - can’t install Ultima 9
Problem is still not solved, but I found a workaround (at least for my game). Installed Ultima 9 on my wife’s computer and then copied the 1+ gb Ultima directory onto my 2gb flash drive and moved it to my computer. Works fine. In fact I don’t use or need the game CD in the drive.
Old games don’t modify Windows registry because back in the day there wasn’t one and they often did not copy files to C:\Windows\System. I knew this guy was right. I copied the entire Ultima IX directory from my virtual 98 machine to a flash drive. Then I copied it to the root of my C Drive. This is why bit torrent folks could run it and those of us with the physical media could not.
Things I did to modify the install before I tried to run on my Windows 8 computer.
• Modify Option.ini file per http://ultimacodex.com/topic/possible-fix-for-high-crash-frequency-in-ultima-ix/ I recall modifying this file when I ran the game when it first came out. A similar modification is need for some of the Command and Conquer games.
• Patch 1.19 http://ultima9.ultimacodex.com/forgotten-world/
Ultima worked just fine and at a much higher resolution than the 640 x 480 listed on the box. The only catch is that the play disk needs to be in my Blue Ray drive to run the game. I haven’t found a tweak yet to fix that requirement. Perhaps I will mount an ISO image and see if that satisfies the program.