This stretchy monster was my wife's favorite toy as a child. It just sold on ebay for almost $700! I always knew she had good taste...
I am addicted to keyboard alternatives. I have bought:
And a few more that aren't even around anymore. I've spent more on these devices than on video cards. Of course I actually use them, three of the above currently even. This latest looks pretty groovy, you can actually just pick up your keys and move them wherever you want, but the price is a bit much at $150 (though there was one device I spent $250 on in a fit of gadget envy). I'm older and wiser now, though, so I think I'll have to take a pass. If you're looking for a gift for me, though...
I was seriously nervous, which is odd since I call in about every month or so and haven't been that nervous before. My heart hit about 140 right before I went on. It's exhilerating, and KGO usually has hunderds of thousands of people listening at any given time.
As far as the topic goes, I was actually taking the position that "voting only encourages them". The unpopularity of the opinion, particularly with the host probably contributed to my nerves. The argument essentially goes that since any government runs on a combination of legitimacy and force, and since democracy gets its legitimacy from voting, the more voting that takes place the more legitimacy. The more legitimacy, the more the government feels entitled to do whatever it wants.
It's really not that crazy. Kings during the middle ages relied on the "Divine Right of Kings" to bolster their legitimacy. And while force plays a role in sustaining any government, I don't think any government surviving on force alone can last very long if at all. The people they control have to believe that it's OK in some way, and citizens in democracies believe that because they "have a say". The fewer people voting the less that makes any sense.
The last few days I've been thinking hard about what I think I am getting out of video games. I go back to the old adage of "all work and no play", but I don't know anymore. I think gaming is far better than TV (which we do not have), but given how low I put TV on any kind of list that isn't saying too much. I like playing Halo 2 with Kim (yes, my wife plays Halo 2, and yes, she's better than I am), because we do it together and it's pretty interactive, if a bit too competitve for me at times. But most of my other games... I just don't know. Everquest takes an awful lot of time to keep up, Planetside is great but the good battles are hard to find, and it just all has this feeling of futility to it.
Does all entertainment have to be futile? DOES all work and no play make John a dull boy? Anyone faced similar questions? Leave comments!
There have been quite a few articles recently from all over the place talking about an imminent housing crash. As housing prices have continued to grow at record speed, I've begun to believe them. Living in the SF Bay Area, I have seen probably the most dramatic housing boom in the world.
Since I am stubbornly unwilling to buy a house on 0% or 5% down, we have been unable to "get in", with prices rising enough to stay always out of reach. It's frustrating, to be sure, and the inevitable "I've missed the only chance we ever had" feeling nags at me once in a while. But I look at the prices, and it just boggles my mind. The fundamental question that bothers me is: Just what has happened in the Bay Area to make houses worth so much?
Has the weather improved? Has the job market gotten better? (dfeinitely no on that one) Have wages gone up? Have homes started to attract stray $20 bills like some sort of money magnet? What?
The answer is that people are buying solely because they think prices will continue to go up. If there is a better definition of a mania, I don't know what it is. Buying just because everyone else is.
But, knowing my luck, I'll be wrong. And even if housing plummets 50% from current prices, that's only back a few years in terms of prices. I'll be glad I missed the top, but if I just could have bought in the 90's! To all my friends with houses, all I can offer is: Don't increase the size of your mortgage no matter what!
Everquest 2 is essentially a game set in a fantasy world (like Lord of the Rings) where you play a character such as a Wizard or a Paladin (like DnD). This game is played exclusively online, and your character "lives" on a server with thousands of others (and there are dozens of servers). Your character moves from a pathetic peon, running for dear life from sewer rats to a powerful behemoth, destroying even powerful dragons and giants. This takes HUNDREDS of hours to do, though. While doing it, you earn in game money to buy better equipment, housing and even pets.
These types of games (MMORPG's) have been around for many years now, and there has always been a "grey" market where someone will spend the hundreds of hours to create a character and then sell the right to play this character or in game money on ebay for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Officially, Sony(the makers of Everquest) has always opposed this grey market and has kicked people off the game when they were found using it.
But now Sony has decided, at least on a few of the servers, to make this an officially sponsored activity. People will be able to sell things in game for real life money, and Sony itself will oversee this market (estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars!) and ensure people do not get ripped off (as previously that was quite easy).
Where this will go no one knows. Sweatshops in China with workers being paid pennies an hour to play Everyquest? Maybe. College students making a good side income creating and trading Everquest goods? Probably. Fascinating insight into human behavior, computer gaming and economics? Most definitely!
So, the Catholic Church has selected a new Pope. He seems like he's not going to change much, and that sounds fine to me. What is with all these expectations that an institution that has outlived empires and is older than every established government on this planet will change it's basic doctrines in less than 1/20th of the time it has existed? And why would that be a good thing?
As most of you know, I am not Catholic. However, I have noticed again and again an assumption on the part of my Protestant bretheren that if someone is Catholic, they are either probably or certainly not actually saved. Many won't even refer to Catholics as Christians.
I disagree with "The Church" on many, many things, both doctrinal and practical. I have no desire or inclination to convert, yet I cannot understand these assumptions. I disagree with many other denominations, and as can be surmized by the few things I have written here I disagree with just about every Christian individual out there as well. I assume I am probably dead wrong on quite a lot of what I believe. There are certain points, however, where I am as close to certain as I think a human can get.
The question is, are Catholics so far out of what Protestants believe that they cannot be considered Christian? Most Christians, Catholic and non, would argue that groups such as Mormon's and Jehova's Witnesses are not Christian. But this is because they deny very basic points points such as the Trinity, the divinity of Christ and redemption through Grace alone. Catholics, despite what you may have heard, do not deny these basic tenents. In fact, they have defined, refined and championed them throughout history (and yes, they've done horrible things also, but that's not the point right now).
That there are many Catholics who may be confused about these things is hardly disputed by anyone. That does not mean that this is what the Catholic church teaches, though they do seem to lack the clarity of message that you find with Protestants, spending much time talking about peripheral doctrines (the Saints and Mary in particular).
The other big thing that Protestants disagree with Catholics on is Tradition as a way of determing God's will. Sola Scriptura, meaning Scripture Alone is the assertion of Protestants.
However, even Protestants rely on tradition! They use it, first and foremost, in deciding what constitutes Holy Scripture in the first place! As a good Catholic friend of mine said (and he knows who he is) there is no table of contents in Scripture. There are other areas as well where tradition is relied upon. Many doctrines of Christianity are simply not obvious from Scripture alone. The Trinity is certainly one of those. And the gradually shifting views of eschatology can only be attributed to tradition.
But here I believe tradition to be an informal collection of wisdom and doctrine revealed to Christians through the Holy Spirit, not a formal organization with specific recipients of such wisdom. And I believe that the Catholic church has strayed a bit from Scripture in some areas, at least as I understand it.
Well, that's a mouthful so I think I'll take a break. Looking forward to hearing any comments y'all have!
Apparantly the IRS is a bit casual with all those intimite details it forces you to give it every year:
With guardians like this, who needs the bad guys?
Check this out.
I worked at Adobe for 3 years, and this is pretty major news. The markets aren't very happy about it, though. Macromedia makes Flash, and Adobe makes just about everything else. This might help Adobe compete with Microsoft (my current employer) long term, but it sure adds a lot of risk elements. I've been holding on to some of my Adobe stock for years, and they've executed real well the last few years. This complicates things, and I'm just not sure the two companies will mesh well.
It's a bit "in your face" to have a title like "anarcho-libertarian" in your main blog description, but it is hard to find good words to describe such a thing. So, for the unitiated, here's a brief description of what I mean.
The word "anarchy" is laden with many meanings, and the traditional anarchists (the kind that protest regularly at WTO meetings and the like) actually object to people such as myself who use the word anarchy and yet are sympathetic to capitalism, which they virulently oppose. To clarify, I am definitely not a part of this "traditional" anarchist view.
Essentially, I believe the state is unnecesary. For this purpose, I define the "state" as an organization which claims for itself a monopoly on the use of force in a given geographical area, and that is generally accepted as legitimate by the poeple in this area. Any uses of force in this are are all considered subject to the states rules (as in, you can defend youself if the state determines it is ok).
When I say unnecesary, I don't mean that all governments could be abolished tomorrow and we would all be better off. I mean that given time, information and an improved moral character, a society would be better off without a centralized monopoly on law enforcement. I'm not talking about utopia, as flawed Man cannot create such a thing on earth. I'm talking about the best we can hope for.
There are many arguments for it, but the most concise and still reasonable I can think of is: Monopolies tend over time to increase the price they charge and decrease the services they provide. I consider this to be true even for governments, and when I look at the last 200 years of the US, it seems self evident that we pay more for "protection" and get far less, and quite a bit of actual harm sometimes described as protection. The internal competition that the founders attempted was a good try, but insufficient in the long run. In order to remain competitive, cut costs and continually try to find better ways to server customers, I can't see any other way than the direct financial competition that government has always claimed the exclusive right to ignore.
I have no expectation of persuasion here, but just a hope that you may understand what I mean and think I am at least eccentric, not insane. :)
For the curious, here's a few links that might get you started, or maybe just more confused: