Monday, March 30, 2009

Bayou City History

Interesting blog on the Houston Chronicle site that deals with the history of Houston. If you're a Houstonian, this is worth a look. I spent a lot more time than I expected just reading an article and the comments about the Goodyear blimp and its former base in Spring.

Economic stimulus that works

Dear Mr. President
Patriotic retirement:
There's about 40 million people over 50 in the work force -pay them $1 million
apiece severance with the following stipulations:

1) They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.
2) They buy NEW American cars. Forty million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.
3) They either buy a house/pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed.
Can't get any easier than that!

I still don't like the idea of the government handing out cash, but if they're going to do it, they might as well give it to the people who will really make the economy start moving again: the consumer. After this, if a company fails, it's because they deserve to by true capitalistic principles.

(Thanks to Aunt Peggy for forwarding this to me)

Friday, March 27, 2009

...and the second most random video ever.

What's amazing is that this piece of randomness is by a completely different person.

The most random video ever

I was looking this morning at iStockphoto for some stock video footage with a search term of "Texas" when I came across this video. Of a clown. Shooting a rifle.

You can find (and buy) the video in glorious high definition 1080p on

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Time to Teabag the Congress

Our current state of the nation as viewed by Thomas Paine:

Brilliant, although a tea bag won't get past the White House or Congress mail screening. Send a photo of a tea bag instead.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Where's the outrage?

From an update this morning in an e-mail from Senator John Cornyn (who got a scathing e-mail from me following his vote for the first bailout bill last fall):

Since President Obama took office 56 days ago, Congress has already spent more money than the previous Administration spent on the Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the response to Hurricane Katrina – combined.

Holy crap. That's simply staggering.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Childish things

This really spoke to me.

via Kottke.

Problems with the New iPod Shuffle

Apple today introduced a new iPod Shulffle that is smaller than the current model and is controlled via buttons on the headphone cord.

The new shuffle is great as long as you listen to it using the Apple-provided headphones. Great form factor, but two glaring problems with it:

1. Many times I carry my shuffle with me to plug in to the sound system at events when I just want to play random background music. With the new shuffle, I can't do that.

2. I don't like using Apple's headphones when I work out. They come out of my ears too easily, so I use an over-the-ear headphone from Sony that wraps around my ear. With the new shuffle's on-headphone controls, I now have no way to control my music.

Not very Apple to miss these details...

Friday, March 6, 2009

The job market 2009

Thanks to Jolie W. for sending this.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The next, next iPhone?

This summer, Apple is expected to release the third generation iPhone.

What? You mean the iPhone 3G released last summer wasn't the third generation iPhone? No. It only accessed AT&T's 3G network. Confusing, I know. I think Apple is going to have to do something to really avoid some confusion here. I expect them to just call it the iPhone 3. But I digress...

So with a refresh due, what will Apple do to continue to make the next generation iPhone attractive and to innovate in true Apple fashion? I have several ideas - er - guesses.

Hardware, Not Software
First, I think the major refresh will come in the form of hardware and design, not in software. This is because there are millions of iPhones currently in circulation from the first generation to the 3G that all run on the same platform - OSX mobile (or the iPhone OS). And since the accounting on those iPhones is spread across two years so as to be able to offer free software updates, the iPhone software will need to be able to run on legacy iPhones, for now, anyway. It's not unheard of for Apple to abandon old hardware in the name of newer, cooler software that will only run on newer systems. But considering that the original iPhone wasn't even released two years ago yet - and is still under Applecare warranty for those who bought it - I expect that the iPhone OS will continue to work as is for at least the next year. Apple has never released a new version of any OS that wouldn't run on any machine it sold in the previous couple of years. I don't expect any drastic software changes (meaning software that REQUIRES a new phone) until 2012 when AT&T's iPhone exclusivity expires in the United States.

1. Faster Processor
I do expect, however, for Apple to look for ways to make the iPhone experience better on the iPhone 3, such as a faster processor. The original iPhone and the 3G share the same processor. There have been quite a few technological advances in the past couple of years in mobile processing. I believe that Apple is either waiting for iPhone sales to plateau or for the next, next iteration to introduce a faster processor. It's selling like crazy right now at the current specs, so why rock the boat, right?

Faster processing would make video capture possible, which has been on my (and others') wish lists for the iPhone since its debut. Other cell phones - and smart phones - have this capability, and it's becoming a glaring shortfall. And Apple has applied for patents on some really cool technology that actually imbeds video cameras between pixels so that a physical camera isn't necessary. The entire phone surface could be the camera so you wouldn't have to turn the phone around. That would also make possible video conferencing right on the phone. But I may be a generation ahead of myself... Apple will probably put this technology in an iMac or MacBook first until they figure out how to shrink the technology down to iPhone size.

2. Different form factor
Contrary to rumor, I don't believe that we'll be seeing an iPhone Nano any time soon. The iPhone is perfectly sized. What good would a smaller screen be? As it is now, it can sometimes be difficult to hit the correct button when making a call. And try typing on a smaller non-physical keyboard. No thanks. The keyboard is perfectly sized as it is.

On the contrary- I expect the iPhone 3 to have a larger screen. The phone size itself won't be larger. It wouldn't fit well in jeans pockets (and then where would Steve Jobs pull it from when he introduces it?). There's some dead space on the front of the iPhone now. I expect the screen to encompass more of the front surface area. I also wouldn't be surprised if the technology I mentioned earlier used to hide a camera between pixels couldn't be used in the same way to hide the proximity sensor that is currently hidden beneath the glass near the ear speaker. A larger screen size would be better for web viewing, better for games and better for watching movies on the phone. I expect the ear speaker to be moved up into the bevel at the top of the phone (if there is a bevel, that is...).

I also wouldn't be surprised to see the Home button go away and have its functionality merged with the button on the top of the phone. That would allow for corner to corner screen real estate, which would be AWESOME for movies and for games. When the phone is turned sideways, the natural place for the thumbs to rest is where the home button and the ear speaker currently reside, anyway.

3. Better camera
If a hidden pixel-cam isn't involved, I'd expect a better camera in the iPhone 3. The camera truly sucks on the iPhone now, and everyone knows it. I suspect it will get three or four megapixel resolution and I'd also expect the ability to zoom when shooting a photo. The technology exists on lesser phones and software that does just that is available on jailbroken iPhones now.

4. Better battery life
This one is like saying that the sun will rise tomorrow, but I think that Apple's recent R&D into battery cell technology that was implemented last fall in the MacBook Pro will allow for dramatically better battery life on the iPhone. And with video capability, it's going to need every ounce of juice it can get.

5. Unibody construction?
I doubt it, but it seems to be the way that Apple is moving with its computer products these days, so you never know... For those of you who don't know, unibody construction is when they take a solid piece of aluminum and actually carve away the inside, rather than piecing lots of pieces together to make up the body. A unibody iPhone would make it really, really drop-proof.

6. Thinner.
Not just thinner, but iPod Touch thin. Crazy thin. Like mind-numbingly thin. Unibody construction would allow this to happen and still be strong. And lighter. The iPhone now gets a little heavy on a long phone call, but a unibody iPod Touch-thin iPhone would weigh just ounces. I'm salivating just thinking about it.

7. Flash
No, not that Flash - more flash memory. I bet the next iteration will have up to 64GB, but I'd be really happy with 32. it's a safe bet since 32GB is available in the iPod Touch currently. But as for Adobe Flash... well, maybe. But the battery life I mentioned earlier would have to be a mandatory for that. Flash is a battery sucker.

8. Faster wireless
I expect the next iPhone to have 802.11n wireless. It has 802.11g currently, but I suspect that like the rest of its products, Apple is trying to move to all n-wireless. It's a better, faster experience that way. And I believe that the iPhone and the iPod Touch are now the only products Apple makes that don't have 802.11n wi-fi.

So those are the major revisions I expect to see in the iPhone over the next couple of years. I expect Apple will continue to make its hardware lust-worthy and then follow with software that is really cool and just works.

I realize I may be an iteration ahead of myself here because, but this is the direction I think the iPhone might be headed, given Apple's propensity for trying something out in one product while fully intending to use it on a different product in a much cooler, smaller way.  I, for one, can't wait.

Don't bother trying to reach me on May 21.

I've now got plans for May 21.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Abraham Lincloln was against bailouts

Tough love from Lincoln. I believe that Lincoln would have been appalled at the state of the government today. Don't even get me started on Ben Franklin...

Abraham Lincoln; A letter to his step-brother

December 24, 1848

Dear Johnston:

Your request for eighty dollars, I do not think it best to comply with now. At the various times when I have helped you a little, you have said tome, "We can get along very will now," but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty again.

Now this can only happen by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are lazy, and still you are an idler. I doubt whether since I saw you, you have done a good whole day's work, in any one day. You do not have very much, merely because it does not seem to you that you could get much for it.

This habit of uselessly wasting time, is the whole difficulty; it is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children, that you should break this habit. It is more important to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit before they are in it, easier than they can get out after they are in.

You are now i n need of some ready money; and what I propose is, that you shall go to work, "tooth and nail," for somebody who will give you money for it.

Let father and your boys take charge of your things at home - prepare for a crop, and make the crip, and you go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any debt you owe, that you can get. And to secure you a fair reward for your labor, I now promise you that for every dollar you will, between this and thefirst of May, get for your own labor either in money or in your own indebtedness, I will then give you one other dollar.

By this If you hire yourself at ten dollars a month, from me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars a month for your wirk. In this, I do not mean you shall go off to St. Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold mines, in California, but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages you can get close to home - in Coles County.

Now, if you will do this, you will soon be out of debt, and what is better, you will have a habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But if I should now clear you out, next year you will be just a deep in as ever. You say you would almost give your place in Heaven for $70 or $80. Then you value your place in Heaven very cheaply, for I am sure you can with the offer I make you get the seventy or eighty dollars for four or five month's work. You say if I furnish you the money you will deed me the land, and if you don't pay the money back, you will deliver possession - Nonsense! If you can't now live with the land, how will you then live without it? You have always been kind to me, and I do not now mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than eight times eighty dollars to you.


Your brother,

A. Lincoln

Monday, March 2, 2009

And so it begins.

I've checked into this, and it's REAL. Repeat - NOT a hoax. This is truly alarming - not only that such an anti-American idea could actually be introduced into the House of Representatives, but also that people could elect such a nut to Congress. It was introduced by Illinois Representative Bobby Rush. Not surprising that it's a legislator from Obama's adopted state...

Please make people aware of this and be in touch with your Representative and Senators.

Very Important for you to be aware of a new bill HR 45 introduced into the House.
This is the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing & Record of Sale Act of 2009. We just learned yesterday about this on the Peter Boyles radio program.

Even gun shop owners didn't know about this because it is flying under the radar.

To find out about this - go to any government website and type in HR 45 or Google HR 45 Blair Holt Firearm Licensing & Record of Sales Act of 2009. You will get all the information.
Basically this would make it illegal to own a firearm - any rifle with a clip or ANY pistol unless:
*It is registered
*You are fingerprinted
*You supply a current Driver's License
*You supply your Social Security #
*You will submit to a physical & mental evaluation at any time of their choosing
*Each update - change or ownership through private or public sale must be reported and costs $25 - Failure to do so you automatically lose the right to own a firearm and are subject up to a year in jail.
*There is a child provision clause on page 16 section 305 stating a child-access provision. Gun must be locked and inaccessible to any child under 18.

They would have the right to come and inspect that you are storing your gun safely away from accessibility to children and fine is punishable for up to 5 yrs. in prison.

If you think this is a joke - go to the website and take your pick of many options to read this. It is long and lengthy. But, more and more people are becoming aware of this. Pass the word along. Any hunters in your family - pass this along.

This is just a "termite" approach to complete confiscation of guns and disarming of our society to the point we have no defense - chip away a little here and there until the goal is accomplished before anyone realizes it.

This is one to act on whether you own a gun or not.

If you take my gun, only the criminal will have one to use against me. HR 45 only makes me/us less safe. After working with convicts for 26 years I know this bill, if passed, would make them happy and in less danger from their victims.

Please.. copy and send this out to EVERYONE in the USA.

The End ... ... ... of the Story

Radio legend and Senior DeMolay Paul Harvey died Saturday in Arizona at the age of 90.

Paul Harvey's delivery was a throwback to a simpler, more paced era of life both on the radio and in the world. I always enjoyed listening to his news and commentary and the "Rest of the Story." He could make a point louder and stronger than anyone else just by his inflection and the dead air after reading a ridiculous news item.

Paul Harvey is dead. God help us all.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The coolest groom's cake EVER!

Last night I attended the wedding of a fellow Sammy Bearkat. Those of us who were or are Sammy are a bit like a fraternity. The Brotherhood of the Orange Fur, if you will. He wanted Sammy at the reception and asked me if I would do it. Naturally, I jumped at the chance! A good time was had by all, but the absolute coolest thing about the reception was the cake. The bride's cake was beautiful and very traditional and girly. And the groom's cake... well, words just don't do it justice. Here's a photo:

The cake was a Sammy Bearkat head - and a pretty good likeness, too. But there were literally THOUSANDS of strands of icing making up the fur of the cake. Way, WAY cool.

I didn't get a piece - about the time it was time to cut the cakes I had to go put on Sammy. But I don't think I could've brought myself to eat it, anyway.