Friday, September 21, 2007

As Hillary prepares to take another run at socialized medicine in the US, and as the Edwards camp claims she stole the idea from them, a recent news story reported that a Liberal MP from Canada, Belinda Stronach, traveled to the US to receive treatment for stomach cancer that was recommended by he Canadian surgeon. She still has full faith in the Canadian system, she says. And she insists that she didn't go to get the treatment faster than is possible in the Canadian system either, so there! Nyah!

That could never happen here, because the rich and powerful always wait patiently in line for medical treatment.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

I had two weird dreams last night that were thematically linked. And since I don't have anything else to write about today. . .

The first dream drifted from a round of indoor golf to Dog The Bounty Hunter and his wife getting ready to board an airplane. Each passenger presented their ticket, and were seated in a string of cars in the order approximating their arrangement on the plane. The convoy took off with Dog in the lead car. The driver took a turn too fast, and the car sailed off the road, flew down a steep embankment and landed lightly on its wheels. Someone in the car said, "Wow, if that had happened in real life it would have killed us!"

The second dream was just me on an airplane. Nothing bad happened. I was just on an airplane.

There must be something in the water, here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let's talk about the First Amendment today. Well, a part of it, anyway.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I have the right to say anything I want to, as long as it isn't libelous, about anyone I want to. On my homebrewing blog I wrote that I didn't like Shiner 98. Someone bravely posted a comment accusing me of having no taste and of being a talentless hack. And they bravely posted it as "Anonymous". While I don't dispute his assessment of my skills, that person's definition of Freedom of Speech is that no one should say anything that disagrees with him.

He's not alone. There are people who want the government to stop Fox News. There are people who are boycotting the advertisers of Fox News to stop them from talking. People want to silence Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter. That's the new "Freedom of Speech?"

I use Firefox. I also use the Adblocker add-on. AdBlocker allows me to filter the ads on websites so that I don't have to see them. Advertisers are beginning to get angry at this technology, because apparently I am infringing of their Freedom of Speech, and will probably begin litigation to eliminate these filters.

Since when has Freedom of Speech become the Right to be Heard?

Don't like Fox News? Don't fucking watch it. Some people like it, and by silencing Fox News you are imposing your morality on them.

Don't like ads? I don't want to see ads for Cialis and Viagra on every web page I visit. By configuring my adblocker to block ads from, am I doing anything wrong? No. I do not have to listen or see those ads, and should be allowed to block them. Essentailly, I turn off the ads on one computer. I'm not stopping my neighbor from seeing them on his machine.

Mike Zanis, the Interactive Advertising Bureau's vice president of public policy said, "People are free to ignore ads, and they often do that, but when you have a third party blocking those ads, that's the real problem."

No, Mike. AdBlocker blocks nothing by default. I have to add something to the block list. AdBlocker lets me decide what I want to see. It is the Internet version of the V-chip. you know, that Clinton-era panacea for the crime problem and solution for busy parents everywhere? You make have a right to advertise on the Internet. I have the right not to see it.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I live in the Texas Hill Country, near San Antonio and Austin. It is a beautiful part of the state, and, unfortunately, people in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin know it and are coming this way. Habitat for Humanity recently built some homes for some needy people. The homes cost $40,000 to build. They were recently appraised (only a year after construction) for $125,000. The house I live in is a 1930s frame home with no insulation, no a/c, two bedrooms and one bath. The lot is large, but is also a seasonal creek. When it rains more than an inch, we have water standing in the back yard. It has been appraised at $95,000. We paid $55,000 for it about six years ago.

Last week, in USA Today, I read a couple of stories that were seeming unrelated, but eventually tied together. The majority of homeowners in this country pay 50% or more of their income for housing. And, rush hours across the country are expanding. Some people leave the house before sunrise to beat the traffic, and return after dark. Why? They can't afford to live in the town where they work.

Today, published a story about the lack of affordable housing across the country. One man in San Francisco pays $1200 a month for a ramshackle apartment, which leaves him with $30 a month to pay his utilities and buy food.

With the outrageous land prices and outlandish property tax rates being levied, this country is looking at serious crisis. Soon, only brain surgeons and drug dealers will be able to afford to own property.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Recently, scientists went over all the aspartame research and found that it was not as dangerous as previously thought. It was found to be safe.

I'm old enough to have lived through this kind of crap before. As I was growing up, eggs were bad for you. Now, they are good for you again. Same with salt. That's the beauty of science, a peer reviewed study can be wrong. Eventually the truth will out, as they say.

Then I read that the study was paid for by aspartame's manufacturer.


Scientists have to eat, or at the very least, bring revenue into the school, so should I be upset that the study supported the claim of the sponsor? No. Sometimes, a manufacturer has to prove his product is safe, and they have to pay for the time spent doing the research.

But I am taking the findings with a grain of salt.