January 2005 Archives

Sex Education

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I wrote this to a local TV station who had people arguing about which kind of sex education to teach in our schools. I did agree more with the abstinence side -- especially when the abstinence advocate asked the other to define abstinence, and she said "it's a choice some people make," refusing further clarification -- but my view is a bit different.


I wish your program had devoted some time to the notion that public school is not the place to teach *anything* about personal sexual activity, be it abstinence or not. It's not the information I have a problem with, it's the source.

Anyone who isn't family will not teach my children about sex, period. That's my job. And my children will surely know a lot more about sex, in a comprehensive and healthy way, than children who learn about it via a combination of MTV and the public schools.

Yes, many parents won't be such good teachers. I personally don't see this as a problem for the schools to take on, but if they must, then the class should be optional, and not the default option.

Further, so much time and money and energy is spent on deciding which type of sexual information to give to impressionable teenagers, instead of addressing the fact that -- compared to 30 years ago -- today's high school graduates are, overall, pretty ignorant. They don't know the difference between Andrew Johnson and Andrew Jackson, and couldn't even begin to tell you what a gerund is.

But some people decided that sex is more important than being well-educated. Perhaps if the children were more well-educated, they would be smart enough to figure things out on their own a bit better? Teach them history, teach them to figure out why things happened, why people did what they did, and what other choices they could have made. Pretty soon you'll get kids who are actually thinking for themselves.

But we can't have that, because government schools are designed to create programmed citizens who will do what is best for society. That's why there's so much emphasis on rates of sexual activity, pregnancies, and diseases. But I am raising intelligent, creative, confident, and capable individuals. Statistics are irrelevant to the parent; what matters is the individual. I am far less concerned with statistics than I am about my own individuals, including the psychological impact of strangers giving them intimate information about sex.

I am no anti-government wacko (believe it, or not). But in the case of public schools, there can be no denying that they are not designed with the best interests of the individual children in mind, but with society in mind. And that's not good enough for my children, and the current debate about which form of sex education to teach is a perfect example of why. slashdot.org

Social Security "Trust" Fund

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The way social security works, essentially, is that we pay for it from our payroll taxes. Right now we pay more than is needed for benefits, and the extra goes into a "trust fund." Most everyone agrees -- for now -- on the forecast that around 2018, social security will be sending out more money than it takes in -- this requiring the use of the trust fund to cover the difference -- and that sometime after 2040 the trust fund will have no more money.

Republicans say this constitutes a crisis, because we will start to deplete our resources in 2018. Democrats say it is not a crisis, because we have a long time to fix it.

But the truth is that it's worse than that, and it is a crisis.

We have no trust fund, in the common use of the word. It's a filing cabinet with a folder full of IOUs. There's no actual money there, because the government borrowed that money to use for other purposes. In 2018, we will need to raise revenue to pay off those IOUs in order to pay for social security benefits. So it's not in 40 years that we begin to have to pay more money we don't have for social security, it's in 10 or so.

I don't know what the solution is, but don't let people tell you we have the money to pay for benefits once the revenue drops beneath the expenditures. It isn't true. slashdot.org
Following the election, there was a discussion on PBS NewsHour which prompted me to write a journal entry about Christianity and Charity.

I don't have much to add, but one of the participants I referenced, Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine, was on The Daily Show this week, so I looked up the entry, and thought others might wish to do the same. slashdot.org


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Senator Boxer totally lied today when she berated Secretary-designate Rice. She said:

SEN. BOXER: Well, you should read what we voted on when we voted to support the war, which I did not, but most of my colleagues did. It was WMD, period. That was the reason and the causation for that, you know, particular vote.

No. There were two justifications for the use of force that the Congress approved:

The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to -- (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

And as we all should be aware by now, Iraq remained in non-compliance of UN Resolutions (especially Resolution 1441, which said Iraq must comply immediately and fully, and in the three months following its report to the UN, Iraq still was not in full compliance, and was in fact refusing requests for compliance, most obviously in its refusal to grant interviews with scientists outside Iraqi borders). This was, according to the Congress, justification for Bush to use force.

You can argue about the war in many ways, but to say that Congress only approved of war in the case of existence of WMD is false. slashdot.org


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From Mediaweek, December 12, 2005:

Bill O'Reilly, anchor of The CBS Evening News, was formally suspended today for hitting a small child during an interview. The child, a national spokesperson for Children with Hearing Disabilities, enraged the volatile anchor by refusing to "shut up" when ordered to. Sources report that the child, an eight-year-old girl with 80% to 90% hearing loss in both ears, simply could not hear the red-faced O'Reilly bellowing at her, and so continued to describe the recent efforts of the CHD to improve the lives of the partially deaf. The anchor was unavailable for comment, but his spokesperson referred all questions to the platinum-plus member section of Oreilly.com.

-- Rob Long, "The Long View," National Review, Dec. 27, 2004

I love Rob Long. He's a former executive producer of Cheers (which is saying something, as he is only in his 30s), and now he does some radio show and writes columns for National Review. He rarely fails to crack me up.

Anyway, the above is funny for several reasons, but I wonder how much traffic it drove to our publishing friend. use.perl.org

MP3-Info-1.11 Released

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MP3-Info-1.11 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or SF.net.

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)

* v1.11, Friday, January 14, 2005
   Fix for ID3v2 tags that happen to be UTF-16LE.  (Dan Sully)

Posted using release by brian d foy. use.perl.org

A Special Kind of Moron

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Most of you have heard of Michael Newdow, the atheist lawyer who sued to disallow his child from reciting -- or having her classmates recite -- the Pledge of Allegiance with the word "God" in it. (As he had no custody over his child, he had no legal standing to sue, and the Supreme Court tossed it out; he is trying again.)

He also filed suit a few years ago over President Bush's inclusion of a prayer at his inauguration, arguing that this forces Newdow to accept unwanted religious beliefs. He lost -- duh -- with the court noting that he did not suffer "a sufficiently concrete and specific injury" from the prayers, but is trying again this year.

If he lost already, what basis does he have to try again? Well last time he watched at home, and this time he is going to the inauguration, and that the atmosphere will therefore be more coercive.

You know, something tells me he is not going to be coerced, regardless of whether he is in attendance.

This is America. If you don't like something, then ignore it. Get over yourself and buy a clue. slashdot.org

The Daily Show Sucked Last Night

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TDS spent the first segment of the show talking about 'Rathergate,' and didn't actually do any real lampooning of CBS. Stewart said one of the panelists should be wearing a press hat, Rather was not fired even though the 'gate' was named after him, and Andy Rooney has bushy eyebrows.

The rest was just using this news event as a vehicle to bash Bush and Fox News.

They deserve bashing, but this was a huge event in the news business, a catastrophic failure of one of the preeminent TV news organizations. If TDS cannot actually lampoon CBS intelligently over this, then what good are they?

[Insert charges of liberal media bias here.] slashdot.org

Re: Superlatives

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TorgoX complains that Bush's tone is "huffy." Look, when you give more than everyone else and people look at you and say you're being cheap, it's going to get you a little miffed. Note also that those stats only include government gifts, not private, and guess what: we lead the world there, too.

Not that we can't give more, but, as aevil is wont to say, no good deed goes unpunished, and that's the point. use.perl.org
Saturday, I attended the central committee meeting of the Republican party of Snohomish County of the state of Washington, as a duly elected member.

First, the outgoing county party chair gave a speech in which she talked about all the accomplishments of the county party, including getting a lot of local Republicans elected, winning the county for former-and-perhaps-future-governor-elect Dino Rossi, and upgrading the county offices from one computer to five, "all connected to a server, with security."

Then I was sworn in, along with the other Precinct Committee Officers, by chair of the county council, John Koster, and got a certificate signed by Sideshow Bob and everything. We raised our right hand and asked if we swear to faithfully execute our duties and to uphold the laws and bylaws, so help us God, and we said "I do." I wonder if "we do" would have been more appropriate, as we said it in unison.

We then heard the credentials (attendance) report. My district had 15 of 22 eligible PCOs attend (though probably 80 or even 100 PCO offices are available).

Now, a PCO is the smallest official unit of the state party. The PCOs elect the county officers, and the representatives to the state party (the committeeman and committeewoman), as well as their district officers (each district elects a Senate and two Reps to the state legislature; our district is one of the few in the Western part of the state that is represented by three Republicans).

We elected the new county chair, who is, this time, male. So therefore the vice chair must be female, and we then elected her. We then elected a commiteewoman and committeeman. As each was running unopposed (the committeeman was to have an opponent, but that didn't happen), the election was quick.

We also held an election between the committeeman and committeewoman to see which would serve on the state party's executive board, which -- among other things -- chooses the state party chair (currently Chris Vance, who has been in the news a lot lately). The committeewoman won.

We then adjourned to our district meetings, and elected a chair for each. Our district's candidate for chair was also running unopposed, and as the previous chair was not in attendance, the newly elected county chair (who is in our district) served as temporary chair, until the candidate was elected.

Then we all went home to watch the Seahawks lose. slashdot.org
I am taking every Monday off for a few months, to go skiing. Good stuff.

I pulled my hamstring on Dec. 22 in a hockey game. It did OK today on the slopes (I never go down more than intermediate anyway, so not a ton of stress, but a good amount). I have to decide if I think it has healed enough to play this season of hockey, but I am optimistic.

There's a casino less than three miles from my house, that I didn't know about until recently. It's not huge, but a decent size -- 22K sqaure feet, 425 slots, 10 tables -- but it's back in the woods away from any main road, so I'd never seen it. There's also a gun range about seven miles away. On a date, should I go shooting first, gambling second, or vice versa? use.perl.org

MP3-Info-1.10 Released

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MP3-Info-1.10 has been released. Download it from the CPAN or SF.net.

(Note: it may take time for the release to propagate to the various download mirrors.)

* v1.10, day, December 27, 2004
   Make utf8 enabled by default (if available).
   perl 5.6 is now required.
   Remove dependency on Symbol.pm.
   Use three-arg open.  (Alex Marandon)
   Make reading of genres a bit more nimble.  (Brian S. Stephan)
   Fix frame counting.  (Ben Winslow, Anthony DiSante)
   Fix syncsafe byte reading.  (Pierre-Yves Thoulon, et al)
   Some Unicode fixes.  (Ilya Konstantinov)
   More changes for Unicode.  Unicode::String no longer used; Encode is used
   instead.  Encode::Guess used as last resort.  (Dan Sully)
   Optimizations and other fixes.  (michael, Dan Sully)
   Support for reading ID3v2 tags from WAV and AIFF files.  Not fully
   supported.  (Dan Sully)

Posted using release by brian d foy. use.perl.org


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I saw the TMBG documentary Gigantic. It was great, except for Ira Glass and Syd Straw, who by themselves almost ruined it. She is perpetually unfunny and he's just a tool.

What the hell was that crap with Glass saying he feels sorry for them because they can't listen to their own music as though it was somebody else's? And hey, if you say it THREE MORE TIMES in different ways, we might finally think you're being interesting!

And dammit, Sarah Vowell, must you try to explain everything with metaphor? You're like a pixie version of Tom Friedman. Is "essayist" a euphemism for "person who tries too hard to get people to think they are deep so she can feel better about herself"? This was especially betrayed in her whole "The fact that I like TMBG proves that I am smart" spiel. Pass the crackpipe.

(Maybe I can be to This American Life what Jon Stewart is to Crossfire ... nah.)

Oh, and I found it interesting that much of the footage they showed was from the days leading up to 9/11/2001 -- including a live gig at a Tower Records after midnight the morning of 9/11 -- and they made no mention of 9/11 (unless I missed it), unlike Sting's All This Time documentary/concert ... but in the latter case it was unavoidable, since the concert took place the night of 9/11, after it already happened. use.perl.org

Tucker Carlson

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Tucker got the axe from CNN (well, I think his contract expired and won't be renewed). Having seen him a lot, I can't think he actually got fired, as I don't see CNN disliking anything he's done. They just could not find a place for him to fit in at the network.

And he's not the problem with Crossfire. He was, if anything, its saving grace, if it had one: he was the only host there who regularly conceded points made by the other side, and criticized his own side's arguments. Almost every show that I saw, he did this.

That's what I like about him. He's smart and quick and doesn't tow anyone else's line, even though he is quite solidly right-wing. And he isn't afraid to offer entirely unconventional ideas about how to see the issues.

Well, if you want more of this good side of Tucker, he makes his rounds in other venues, but he also has a show of his own, a weekly effort on PBS called Unfiltered. It's well worth watching if you're into weekly discussion shows. If you dislike Crossfire, don't let that scare you away from Unfiltered, which is worlds different.

It's not the greatest show on the planet, but it's one of the few I watch every week. slashdot.org


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For various reasons, I decided I wanted to see about getting some Ethernet wires around the house. I use AirPort Extreme to connect the music room, stereo closet, and server closet (and the laptops), which works fine, but it lacks some things that 100base-T can give me (waking computers, faster transfers, etc.).

The big thing was the stereo closet, where I am streaming movies and audio a lot, and I might be adding another audio player, which would only burden the network further. My stereo closet happens to be below the server closet ... but not exactly. They don't line up. So I could not just drop a line through the floor.

My house was built with Leviton home networking something or other systems. Basically, there's cat-5 and coax going to each room in the house (four bedrooms, living room, kitchen, garage), with the coax carrying either satellite or cable (depending on which it is plugged into in the wiring box), and it all connects in one box. The cat-5 is used only for phone, so I have two free pairs to use (actually, I could use three pairs since I only use one for phone, but I need only two for Ethernet, and I might always add a second phone line, though I doubt it).

So I finally got around to rewiring the wiring closet for Ethernet. I bought a little 6-port punchdown module for $25, that converts the four little wires into RJ-45 plugs, and in the rooms I replaced the faceplates with ones that have data, phone, and coax ports (I need to get the coax pieces later, they just pop in, but they were not in stock).

I just need to finish up the faceplates and put a switch in the wiring closet, and I'll be groovy. Right now, it just has two rooms connected directly. There's no power in there, but there's an outlet nearby, I guess I will have to line the cord along the wall.

Although, I did find out that the master bedroom is fed off the living room, and the garage off the kitchen, so only one or the other of those can have Ethernet (unless I add more switches at those locations ...). But I only need it in the other three bedrooms (that is, office, music room, and bedroom) and the living room, so that's fine. If I ever move boxes to the garage (someday may want to have my main server out there, to free up space and cut down noise), I can do that too.

Oh, and I made some of my own Ethernet cable. Man, that's a pain in the butt. But cheaper in the long run. Since my walls have only four wires for Ethernet, I saved some pain by using only four wires in my cables, too. use.perl.org


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the sourceforge cvs is way too slow
i'd like to kick it hard right in the ass
i'd like to cast it off one day, you know
but that decision's been made in the past

to move to a new system would take time
but hm, and yet, more than we waste right now?
our tools, our processes, what hill to climb!
it gives me pause, it furrows up my brow

my fantasy is switching to perforce
or maybe give subversion a good try
my nightmare is that either would be worse
like pulling the speck out of one's own eye

it's hard to know if one would be a log
and so, instead, we watch the server bog

(I normally don't have the time to write sonnets, but funny how for some reason, today I did!) use.perl.org

What Next in WA?

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The TV station KING 5 in Seattle did a poll about the recent election, asking residents across the state (not just voters). The results (with a margin of error at 4.5%) surprised me.

53 percent to 36 percent said Rossi should not concede. 56-35 percent said he won (down from 66-24 before the hand recount). And a whopping 59-38 percent said we should have a new election.

What surprised me most, apart from the fact that the current loser is perceived by a solid majority to be the winner, is that more people want a new election than think he won, or that he should not concede. I would think that number should be smaller than the others.

And what sort of person would say that Rossi should concede, but that they do not think Gregoire is the winner? There's at least a few of those. slashdot.org

What's Happening This Year

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I updated happening. It now uses Imager to create a background image or screen saver image (I use it on my TV: set the screen saver to use pictures from a directory, set it to the directory that happening uses, and set it to present in random order; also set your screen resolution in the happening config section), complete with the artist/album/title and cover art. It also sends a notice to Growl (unreleased version 0.6 required). Both are switchable via options at the top of the script.

Enjoy. use.perl.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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