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Showing posts from May, 2009

The Grinch who stole gay marriage

The people awakened one morning to hear That the Grinch of Prop 8 had stolen their cheer So they marched in the streets to protest the decision As victims of public discrimination. But one of them said, in a voice starting low “Maybe, just maybe, it need not be so. “Does love need a license from officials of state To affirm what our hearts know will never abate? “Perhaps marriage is something that can't be constrained By a book of religion or a statute ordained. “Marriage is defined in the hearts of two lovers And can't be affected by the thoughts of the others. “So let the Grinch live by his own set of rules. They need not define us unless we be fools “Someday he will learn what we already know That love's unconditional, and that's how we grow.”

The Susan Boyle phenomenon

It's nice to see an average person with talent being newly discovered, and I'm happy for Susan Boyle getting the exposure her voice deserves. What puzzles me, though, is how she got that recognition. When this frumpy middle aged housewife with a flat nose and a horrible hairdo appeared on stage for the Britain's Got Talent show the audience looked on her with low expectations in their eyes, while the judges were openly dismayed to see someone like that on the stage. When she opened her mouth and people realized she could actually sing with the best of them, everyone cheered like mad, as if they were watching a handicapped person do a pole vault. When the video circulated on You Tube Boyle became a worldwide sensation overnight. What is really going on here? She defied expectations, that much is clear. What puzzles me is why expectations were so low in the first place. A pretty face is not a prerequisite for a pretty voice. The most rudimentary layman's knowled

In memory of Memorial Day

I remember when holidays were tied to specific calendar dates, so Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc., could fall on any day of the week. In those days holidays were observed with a specific purpose in mind. After certain holidays were shifted to always fall on a Monday, they lost much of their meaning and morphed into three-day commercial extravaganzas. Try to remember the fallen soldiers as you party and shop this weekend.

California Voters: A disapointment.

As a committed nonconformist I often find my votes on the losing side of the election. But I am particularly dismayed by the rejection of Proposition 1A. This is the second time voters have rejected a measure that would have helped even out the boom-bust cycles in state spending. The biggest problem with the state budget is that legislators have often used increased revenues from good economic years to start new programs, instead of saving it for bad years. Prop. 1A, and the similar Proposition 56 in 2004, would have required the legislature to set up a larger reserve to keep things going in bad economic years. This week, as before, voters rejected the idea by a huge margin. It appears that both times voters were just so angry with the legislature's fiscal irresponsibility that they voted NO as punishment. The irony, of course, is that by voting NO the voters were really saying no to the very type of budget discipline they say the legislature needs. So just what are voters

Fun with Comcast: A free digital upgrade problem.

We recently took advantage of Comcast's free digital cable upgrade, finally freeing ourselves from the olden days of analog television. As a techie kind of guy, you may think it odd that we waited so long. We had our reasons, most notable being the fact that upgrades were previously very un-free. Also our small house had no place to put a VCR sized cable box without sacrificing CD storage space. But the new Motorola cable box they're using now is sufficiently compact to fit in the space of a few knick-knacks. It was delivered within two days via UPS. Hooking it up took less than ten minutes, plus another 45 minutes to dust off and relocate the aforementioned knick-knacks. The rest of this story gets kind of technical, so be warned. I soon realized that the cable box was not delivering stereo sound to the TV, at least not through the standard coaxial cable. After ruling out a variety of potential causes (audio settings, bad cables, etc) I then ran a set of RCA type audio an

Night Owls vs. Early Birds

I've always been a night owl and late sleeper. Most of the jobs I've held in my life were night jobs. Yet I've often been subject to criticism from early birds for being lazy. Today I feel vindicated. The Week magazine reported on research which discovered that we night owls maintain our alertness levels much longer than early birds. At 90 minutes after rising, early birds and night owls were equally alert. However, at 10.5 hours after rising (afternoon for birds, evening for owls) night owls were much better able to maintain their ability to focus and react than early birds. In short, night owls can be more productive towards the end of their day than early birds towards the end of theirs. So there!

Town Square: Mission Aborted

A few months ago I set up a Monterey Peninsula Town Square forum, which I hoped would provide a place where local residents could engage in civil discussion on local issues. Regrettably, I am shutting it down as of today, due to a lack of interest and activity. In looking over the site statistics, the vast majority of forum "visitors" were not even local residents, and not even human. They were spambots from Russia. Only one got through to make a post, but several more tried. If my actual human visitors, few as they were, had shown half as much interest perhaps the forum might have taken off. But it was not to be. The rest of the Monterey Peninsula Toy Box is still in business, and I expect it to remain so for a long time to come. I'd still like to find ways to make the Toy Box more interactive, but for now we'll have to make do with the "comments" feature of this journal.