Thursday, December 30, 2004

Climate Change and Earthquakes

Prior to the current disaster, I was interested in the effects that climate change would have on the earth. The melting of glaciers can have profound effects on a region. The result is a major redistribution of weight. As I recall the shorelines of ancient Lake Missoula rose after the melting of the area glaciers. Conversely, there were localized earthquakes caused by the filling of Lake Powell.

Water is highly is heavy. The climate determines the distribution of this weight.

It seems to me that melting glaciers would have two effects: it would lighten the weight sitting on the areas once covered by the glaciers. It seems to me that a massive melting of glaciers would also increase the over all weight pressed down by the oceans. An unscientific guess would be that global warming would result in a downward force on ocean trenches and and upward force on mountains.

Unscientifically stated: I would not be surprised to see increased seismic activity as we turn this little blue planet of ours brown.

Disasters and Fundraising

First, a positive note: The Amazon/American Cross fundraising effort has collected over 4 million for tsunami relief. This is just one of the many non-government efforts to raise funds for tsunami relief. The press seems to only talk about government contributions to the relief effort. Personally, I think co-erced taxpayer fed are a lesser source of funding than private donations. You will notice socialist organizations rarely mention private contributions in their debates about relief funds...despite the fact that private donations are providing a bulk work of disaster relief funds. The Wikipedia report on the humanitarian response to the crisis makes almost no mention of private donations or of private organizations responding to the crisis. It concentrates almost entirely on how much money is coerced from taxpayers.

The Amazon fundraiser has raised more funds for relief than many of the countries listed on Wikipedia. Faith based organizations like Catholic Relief, LDS Foundation, Islamic Relief (Indonesia is a majority Islamic country), Lutheran World Relief, Menonite Central Committee and many others are raising funds at break neck speeds and are getting needed resources to the region. NGOs like Médecins Sans Frontières are often first on the scene in hot spots around the world. Considering that the biggest challenge of the moment is stemming epidemics after the floods, MSF is providing one of the most important efforts of the moment...medical care.

I agree that countries are often in the best position to make the immediate first response to crisis. However, I think we are better off encouraging private funding to taxpayer fed relief.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Happy Holidays

Oooops, I just realized that I labeled myself and will probably be slapped silly by some conservative nimrod who wants to read an anti-American anti-Christian conspiracy into every uttered word.

Personally, I say "Happy Holidays" when I refer to the entire blob of holidays that occur round about the Winter Solitice.

I say "Merry Christmas" on December 25th.

"Happy Holidays" refers to a season.

"Merry Christmas" refers to a day.

Makes sense to me.

When a political organization such as a state or school refers to a vacation period at the end of December, I think it makes more sense to refer to the break as the "Holiday Break" rather than "Christmas Break." If I were on a school board, I would concur with such a request.

If someone wanted to strike Christmas Day from a Calendar, I would side with the conservatives and protest.

Both the right wing and left wing are detestable when they play the slimy games of trying to control people by limiting vocabulary or by renaming terms.

If Christ were given any say in the debate, I suspect he would like using the inclusive term of "Holidays" to refer to the variety of holidays that occur this time of year. He probably would protest at the idea of excluding all other holidays and naming the entire season "Christmas Season".

Using the phrase "Merry Christmas" to refer specifically to Christmas and "Happy Holidays" to refer to the smattering of holidays that occur in the December holiday season makes a great deal of sense to me.

PS: In Christian Theology, the Easter/Passover period is far more important than Christmas is anyway.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Denver Homestead

For this last week, I've been staying at the Homestead Hotel across the freeway from the Denver Techinical Center.

I am staying here because they have an internet connection. Of course, I did not look close enough at the offer, and did not realize I needed a WiFi card to access the net. anyway, I bought a LinkSys card and am now wireless.

Sadly, I am discovering that my Compaq 1692 Laptop is at the end of its life. The hard disk is suffering bad sectors, the slider mouse thingy is dead and shorted out. It randomly clicks on things. I've worn the letters off many keys (c,n,m,s,d and enter) and the down arrow key is broken. Weirdest of all, when the computer heats up, it freezes. I have to put the computer in the fridge so that I can boot!

My WiFi connection seems slow. It is choppier than a phone line. On the plus side, I had deleted all of my data from this computer; so I am not all that worried about the security of the wifi connection.

Google Groups

If it exists, and is free, I will probably join it.

Anyway, Google has a beta program for a thing called Google Groups. Trying to think of a group, I thought I would stick with the tried and true area of local web development. The group I created is called Utah Webs. The hope is that people from Utah will talk about their web sites, or whatever.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Nancy Pelosi (the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives) said: "[the Iraq war] began 21 months ago and Secretary Rumsfeld has still not done what is necessary, which is his highest duty, to protect our troops to the greatest degree possible. No CEO in America would retain a manager with so clear a record of failure and neither should President Bush."

Uh, Nancy should spend more time with corporate America. When the CEO in modern corporate America underperforms...the politicos in the company usually dole out huge blocks of stock options and increase the gilding on the golden parachute. Yes, an incompetent CEO might have to suffer the trauma of having to cut worker wages or layoff thousands of underlings. Companies rarely seem to punish the CEO. I doubt there has ever been a CEO fired for cutting workers' wages. CEOs are more likely to get axed by the board if they raised salaries.

CEOs only get laid off when they compound incompetence with political blunderings. If the pentagon treated Rumsfeld like a CEO, Rumsfeld would probably be getting a 10 million dollar bonus for bungling the war and having to suffer the emotional hardships of dealing with the growing number of casualties.

Ms. Pelosi might have a point that the fearless leaders of our world should suffer for their actions. Sadly that rarely happens in political positions like CEO or government posts.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Credit Reports

There is a new service that lets people check their credit report online for free (See FTC for details). The site lets people check their credit once a year for free. The program will have a gradual rollout. Folks in the west can start using the service in December...Folks out east have to wait a month or so (ha, ha).

Credit bureaus are scary things. These companies keep a great deal of information on us. For a long time they kept the information a big secret. In recent years, they've been allowing people to check their records. Personally, I think this openess is the best path.

Anyway, I just checked the ole credit report. For some odd reason, the credit reports just showed a big fat clown laughing and stamping papers with a "NO" stamp...Well, my report was accurate. I certainly wouldn't lend myself money.

Several of the reports had minor mistakes.

Now that there is a free service, hopefully equifax and others will start dropping the cost of their premium services. I like the premium credit watch service since it will inform me if anyone ever tries to applie for a credit in my name.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


I finally decided to try my hand at a datafed web site. The project shows the Worldstock Collection.

I chose to experiment with this collection because I agree with the basic premise of worldstock. Worldstock purchases traditional handmade crafts from artisans around the world, then sells the products at reasonable prices on the Internet. By supporting world artisans, Overstock is directly helping support cultural traditions of indigenous people. They provide fair labor employment in disadvantaged areas of the globe. Worldstock is similar to Ten Thousand Villages stores run by the Mennonite Central Committee. Worldstock sells through the web.

Since I like the foundational premises of worldstock, I find I can get over the stigma associated with datafed websites.

Datafeeds are a controversial area of web development. Basically what happens is a merchant makes their product line available to web sites in the form of a datafeed. Using simple database programming, the affiliate creates web sites from the datafeed.

Those familiar with database programming know that displaying data is easy (collecting quality data is hard.)

The process is controversial in that datafeeds quickly create large numbers of essentially identical web sites. Search engines see datafeeds as a nuisance. A large merchant might have 100,000 items in inventory. A thousand webmasters creating datafeed sites from the same data will create 100,000,000 web pages. This is all largely redundant white noise.

Often the people creating datafed web sites have very little concern about data integrity. All they care about is getting a click through to the merchant. Some web sites do really nasty things like join a datafeed with the FIPS database to intentionally create large web sites full of misinformation.

On the plus side. I think datafeeds provide a great tool that allow individuals like myself to hone database skills and work on different ideas for displaying data.

To avoid the white noise problem, I exclude all but the index to the datafeed from the search engines. (You can exclude pages from the webcrawls with the robots.txt file).

As I am interested in learning about different cultures, I've included with the Overstock data quick write ups on different countries represented in the Worldstock collection. So far, I have written up articles on Ghana, The Dominican Republic, Egypt and Afghanistan.

It is my hope to dilute the crass commercialism of the datafeed with links to quality reference sources about the area.

Oddly, the people who get up in arms about datafeeds really don't seem to mind people copying sections from Wikipedia or DMOZ. Blogs, for the most part, are white noise as well. I accept that there is zero educational value to this blog I am keeping. It is simply just expressive white noise.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Ideologies v. Paradigms

I got the glimpse of a TV history show. The little section I saw began with a very interesting comment. It mentioned that the primary reason Hitler thought that Germany would beat the US in war was because the US had a mixed race army. A superior Aryan army would beat a bastardized army. Hitler, of course, was a Hegelian, who believed that the world spirit was in a transition from Judeo/Christian paradigm to a new Aryan/Scientific paradigm.

Hitler's dismissing the US Army is a great example of ways that prejudices lead people astray.

Sadly, this insightful historical observation was followed by a remark that claimed that Hitler was an example of why foreign policies should not be based on ideals (ideology).

The idea that foreign policy should be driven by a nation's interests and not ideals is one of the mantras of modern academia. Leo Strauss would say, there is a multiplicity of ideals; therefore, foreigh policy should be driven by the nation's self interests. Strauss failed to realize that the multiplicity of interests is even more problematic than the multiplicity of ideals.

I didn't see the talking head's name, but this arrogant attitude in the academia that all ideals are inherently flawed is one of the worst follies of modern thinkers. Hitler's problem was that his mushed up mind was full with flawed ideals...not that he had ideals.

Anyway, one thing that I noticed of late is that writers often refer to beliefs of people on the right as "ideologies" and those on the left as "paradigms." This is a subtle trick. For example, you would refer to the beliefs of "right wing kooks" like Milton Friedman as an ideology, and the beliefs of "left wing intellectuals" like Noam Chomsky as paradigms.

This is an interesting trend. So I thought I would take a second and look at the difference between ideologies and paradigms. An ideology is a set system of beliefs. Idividuals can adhere to an ideology. Distinct ideologies are often definable. We can easily see a world with different people holding different ideologies.

Paradigms are shiftier. Paradigms are essentially the entire underlying thought system of a culture. Paradigms include the paradoxes and conflicts that drive the culture.

When right wing nut cases like Milton Friedman speak, they are ideologists. When deep thinkers like much lauded, acclaimed (yet humble) Noam Chomsky utters sentences, he is shifting paradigms.

de Tracy's term "ideology" gives a feeling of raving lunacy, while Kuhn's "paradigm" seems to give a feeling of inclusiveness. It is interesting to see how, when and where the different terms get used.

PS: Hitler's decision to declare war on the US after Pearl Harbor had nothing to do with ideals. Germany was already in a state of total war. The US declaring war against Germany was pretty much given.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Busiest Travel Day

Thanksgiving was a success. Many of the people who attended the feast are now on the road or are on rails. I had a fun time visiting the Salt Lake Train Station in the wee hours of the morning to put a travel on an East Bound California Zephyr.

The current Amtrak station is a cramped little box. Apparently, taxpayers are busily constructing a new multimillion dollar intermodal hub that will do the train justice. Hopefully, we will soon get commuter rail to Ogden and Provo.

In many ways, I think Salt would have been much better if UTA ran the new light rail along the corridor of the old light right which went past the old train station. The light rail could then turn into the city and go up to the U.

As it stands now, it looks like the light rail will have several slow turns to wind its way to the intermodal hub.

As for the shot at internet commerce. The busiest shopping day of the year netted my web empire $18.00 in commissions. Add that to other ads, and I made just about $30.00. Developing community directories does not pay enough to live indoors.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Dog Eat Dog

I am sad to see Colin Powell leave. The big fear of the world is that Bush will interpret the 2004 election as a right wing mandate and push moderates aside.

Personally, I don't hold with the assessment that the United States is an arch conservative country. It seems to me that the liberal community is split between the classical liberals and what I've been thinking of calling the "world-view" liberal. The classical liberal values liberty first and foremost. They tend to libertarianism. The world view liberal pretends to be in touch with the world spirit and sees the world going through thesis-antithesis conflicts. As such, they tend to see people not as individual units but members of classes, and tend to promote big government.

The US was founded pretty much with the classical liberal view. During the Reagan Administration, the classical liberals had flocked to the Republican Party hoping that it would preserve this classical tradition.

The Bush Clan is more of the true liberal. I suspect that the classical liberals will be systematically driven from the Republican Party by the religious right and true conservative elements like the Bush family. It will be sad to see the Republican party stripped of its moderates as we will be left with a two party system with a right wing Republican Party leaning toward Fascist ideals, and a left wing Democratic Party leaning toward socialism.

Pet Feeder - Dog
On a lighter note. This is a strange product for a dog eat dog world. It is a dog feeding system in the shape of a dog. Does this in fact promote dog cannibalism, or is it just a cute toy for dog lovers. The thing costs $219.00!!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2004


I've been playing with the co-branding feature of IAN. This is my attempt at a co-branded page. The program lets me define the top, sides and bottom of the page, but does not give much info on the size of these elements.

Some of the pages have a nowrap attribute, making it hard to format the left side of the page. Overall, it was an interesting experiment. I now have a little travel site to go along with community color.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

At the Pearly Gates

Yasser Arafat enters through the Pearly Gates. He looks around at the angels playing their harps. Fairies dance before Yasser throwing rose petals at his feet.

The roads are made of silver and the buildings of a glittering crytals. Yasser himself is wearing the finest silk clothing with golden trim.

Everyone is happy and everything is beautiful.

Yasser chuckled to himself: "So after all of those years of dirty political deeds, rampant corruption, lies and the brutality of terrorism...I still land myself a spot in heaven!"

As Mr. Arafat gleams with his good fortune.

Yasser sees people approaching and gathering around him. Yasser recognizes the faces. He sees the adoring face of his mother and father. He sees adulation in the eyes of the many children who martyred themselves for his power and cause.

Yasser sighs "Allah is truly great!" The friends, family and adoring admirers gather closer around the great leader.

Just then the bomb that Satan had placed in Yasser's backpack explodes....

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Oh My Gawd!!!!

I can't believe it. George Bush is now stacking the jury in the Peterson trial.

Having just cheated to steal an election. Mr. Bush is now trying to stack the jury in the Peterson trial. I mean, can you think of any other reason that they would change two jurors? I thought not.

The chem trails from the black helicopters will get us all!!!!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Novel Work

I have not forgotten my committment to the November is Novel Writing Month program.

Many things happened at the beginning of the month: First, I got caught up in election fever. Yes, I am one of those stat addicts that had to watch the poll numbers come in. Personally, I thought Kerry would win...which is why I voted for Bush. Now that I see the result, I wish I had voted the other way. Especially since Bush is trying to say the election gives him an arch-conservative mandate.

As for the novel. Well, this is a long story. I posted the Ghost of Alma Matterson on just as a temporary arrangement. My intention was to evolve into a major literary resource. However, ad rates showed me the project was doomed to failure; so I let both the novel and the site languish.

Anyway, before starting Novel Writing Month, I thought I should start reviving IT WAS A COMPLETE PAIN IN THE TUSH I TELL YOU. I had all sorts of annoying little programming glitches attack me while moving the site.

Regardless, I will be moving chapter by chapter to (doing a edit and building a character database en route.

Anyway, sorry for the delay.

Name Change

I decided to change the name of my group of community directories from to The new name does a better job describing what I am trying to accomplish with the directory. The purpose of the Community Color directories is to list sites for a geographic region. This makes it easy for people in an area to connect with others in their community.

BTW, I did not choose the name Links Alive. It was given to me. At the time, I really didn't care about the name of the top directory. Now that I am more emeshed in the project, I realize that the dynamics of communities demand that I build more interconnections in the projects, and the top domain is becoming important.

Anyway, I am likely to sell the name Links Alive after I go through the gradual process of changing the directory name.

The name Linksalive always bugged me. People who read the domain name often think "Link Saliva." It also sounds a bit to "link-exchangish" and spammy. The new name emphasizes the diversity of a local community.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


It gets down to Ohio...a state that gets down.

The funny thing...if Kerry ekes out a tiny victory in Ohio, then we would have a strange situation where Kerry won the electoral college, but didn't win the popular vote.

That would have been a great ending to our pirate v. pirate race for the presidency.

Everyone would suddenly switch their stance on the electoral college v. popular vote issue when they see it go for or against their candidate.

Dimple Me Chads

Arrrrgggh...dimple me chads matey.

The swashbuckling duel for lead pirate leads on into the night.

The vote pirates are out tonight. It is not a safe time for the lads and lassies.

Well, shiver me timbers and dimple me chads.

arrggghhhh!!!!!! May the best pirate win.

Lying to Pollsters

Watching the vote count in mesmerizing.

Several reports had talked about the exit polls indicating a solid win for Kerry, but the vote count seems to be going in Bush's direction. I think a large number of people are really upset with Bush, but fear Kerry such I suspect many would lie about their vote. Quite frankly, if an exit pollster snagged me on my way out of the booth, I would tell them all sorts of things.

As for my actual voting. The Salt Lake ballot had a blank that said "Candidate Withdrew". I voted for a person, but I really regret not voting for the candidate withdrew I wish more candidates would withdraw.

Anyway, back to watching numbers...fascinating numbers. yummmmmmm.....

Monday, November 01, 2004

Count Down to Defeat

America will lose this one. We just don't which way we are going to lose yet. Quite frankly, I don't mind Bush that is his father and the Straussian inner core of the Republican party that I fear most. Kerry and Edwards tie everything I dislike about the Democrats in one bundle. I am hoping that GW loses the popular vote but squeaks by in a contested election, and that the parties do a better job of giving us candidates in 2008.

Sadly, the national election is drowning out local elections. Last year at this time, people were crawling all over Salt Lake Sites trying to get at news about local candidates. This year, it seems that the local candidates are taking a back seat to bin Ladin's national election. This preoccupation with world events is just what bin Laden wants to see in the world. By pushing for the invasion of Iraq, Bush is vindicating the theory at the foundation of modern terrorism.

Give a thug a box cutter, remove his concience and you can move the world. This is like Shakespeare's my kingdom for a horse. The word to describe the destroying of the World Trade Center is "praxis." The purpose of a praxis is to put a conflict in the center of the world stage. American loses this election because both candidates have made the praxis and resulting wars the focal point of existence.

The way to win against terrorism is to reject the praxis in the first place. Ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban was the correct action. The second action should have been to work on reforming the UN so that the world would have an organization that could remove Saddam Hussein and other menaces from office.

Instead, we proved that you cannot shock and awe a country into freedom.

We are lefting voting according to which candidate we fear the least. I fear Bush a little less than Kerry. I hope history correctly holds Bush I and II among the worst presidents to ever serve the United States.

My concern is that, while the politicians are focusing our attention to the world stage, the rogues will gain power and rape the land locally.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

All Souls Eve Eve

Grumble, Grumble. I just am not in sync with Utah.

I was just grooving along thinking tonight was just an ordinary Saturday night and that tomorrow (the day before All Souls Day) was Halloween. Suddenly, I find that there are kids running around on the street trick or treating...Once again, my brain failed to register that I don't live in the United States. I live in Utah.

Utahns do things they celebrate All Souls Eve on All Souls Eve Eve. This way, the trick or treaters won't violate the majority's Sabbath. (Violating the Jewish Sabbath is okay). Changing the date of holidays is a great way to show the strength of the collective. Vive la collective!

Moonflower - Datura

I wish I could get better flower pictures. I am hoping the price of Digital SLR cameras will drop dramatically this winter so that I will be able to equip myself with some top of the line equipment next year. I can sometimes get pictures of large flowers. The picture to the right is a Moonflower (datura). It is a member of the nightshade family that grows in alkaline soils and is deadly poisonous. Several pages indicate you can get poisoned by touching the plant (

The Moonflower is a large, noticeable flower that you might find in desert canyons. The plant grows well in disturbed soil so you might see it on roadsides. The plant would probably do well in a native plant garden...I wouldn't want to plant it in a place where kids might get into it. Ranchers consider it a weed (Jimson Weed). The plant often called the sacred datura. Most Native Americans take this to mean: "it is sacred don't touch." Being poisonous, apparently the plant can induce hallucinations. Some Native American tribes used the plant in rituals. Nightshade is poisonous, from reading different web sites on the subject, it appears that many people have earned a Darwin Award by experimenting with the plant. (They removed themselves from the gene pool).

It is an interesting plant to research. Apparently varieties of the plant grow around the world. The term Jimson Weed derives from a poisoning that occurred in historic Jamestown. The term Moonflower is also used for a variety of Morning Glory.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Moab Photo Gallery

I finished labeling my Moab, Utah pictures. It is strange that I would go into a desert paradise and spend half a day taking pictures of a town. The town is no where near the scenic quality of the surrounding area. However, my concern is the way that we humans interact with our nature.

I recall Edward Abbey correctly describing Moab as the ugliest town in the most beautiful section of earth. For that matter, my early visits to Moab struck me with the complete and absolute lack of aesthetics that dominates the Utah mind.

Fortunately, as the town evolves from a backwater Utah community to a resort town, more and more people are starting to realize the unique character of the desert. Will enough people realize just what we have before we destroy it? The Republican Party in Utah is doing every single thing its corrupt power to destroy everything that is beautiful in the US. Republicans were once the conservationists. Why have they allowed the Bushes of the world turn their party into the wonton destroyers of the world?????

Anyway, back to Moab. As the town turns into a resort area and millions of tourists drop hundreds of millions of dollars in the area, a minority of the population is starting to realize what a unique thing they have. Will this be enough to save the desert. Tourist themselves trample the land. For example we see people into extreme sports really tearing the place up. Moab has yet to sprawl like Park City, Sun Valley and other resort areas. Will this region take the route and centralize or will the pressures for development destroy its unique characteristics?

Living in Utah, where the dominant mindset is to develop at all costs, I felt a hint of optimism as I wandered through the trail system surrounding Moab. There is both awareness and effort.

Here is a picture of an elephant pushing over Delicate Arch that is displayed on the Utah GOP web page: Will we trample this earth?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Floating Checks

Watch out!!!! The new check 21 system will end up costing consumers a great deal in bounced check fees. The new system will speed up the processing of some checks but not others. The problem is that funds you deposited in your account may not clear before the check you wrote. There will be some cases where a person deposits money, then writes a check on the money. If the check clears before the deposit, the consumer could get dinged for a fee.

If your bank has a holding period before you can start cashing checks, then you better start paying closer attention to your account. If you've been thinking of investing in banking stock, expect larger than usual profit from fees.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


I am glad to see more and more writers being puzzled by the divisiveness that is dominating our country (eg Distorted Messages Abound in Election Campaign). Quite frankly, it seems to me that the Republican and Democratic Party are more similar to each other than every before. Both parties stand squarely for big instrusive government that favors large corporations. Neither party is willing to exercise fiscal restraint.

Difference are minor...the Republicans favor using targetted tax breaks for social control, the Democratics favor more overt and direct forms of social control. Elections seem more about the way candidates smell and friends they keep.

It is the media that is divisive. Perhaps that's what's worrisome. Will the divisive media create more entrenched and polarized politicians. Through the Clinton Administration and even the first year of Bush Adminstration, I had a feeling that the US was getting back on track intellectually. Todays media seems to be devided by far left and far right pundits who are using international events to divide people and spread hate and fear.

I think the worst legacy of George Bush the first and George Bush the second is that they have driven the classical liberals out of the Republican party. Unfortunately, the kooky side of the Democratic party seems to be flocking back in droves. With clowns on the left and jokers on the right taking control, it is likely that the only predictible result of this election is that the people who are skilled at creating division will come out ahead.

United Nations Day

The United Nation's Day sponsored by the United Nations Association of Utah was interesting. This year, the UN is emphasizing woman's rights. The meeting featured Dr. Nancy Haanstad of Weber State University who spoke on progress being made in women's education and the positive effect women's education has in lower birth rates and stabilizing countries. Having spent the day going through political web sites for the Utah candidates, it was extremely refreshing to hear a speaker with a more enlightened understanding of world events.

Utah's Lieutenant Governor Gayle F. McKeachnie attended the event. I am pleased to see the Governor of the state participating in the UNAU after Utah's silly attempt to withdraw from the United Nation's last year.

The night's entertainment included a Native American Flutist with home made flutes, traditional Native American singing and Hoop Dancing. The following page shows images of Hoop Dancing. Hoop Dancing is an interesting art.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Local Politics

I've spend much of the day, working through, categorizing and listing local political web sites for my group of community directories. These are the local campaigns in the Salt Lake City Metro area. The Salt Lake County mayor's race is quite interesting. The incumbant had been caught with her fingers in the cookie jar, and the race is going through a rather nasty episode with write in candidates and last minute efforts to change the ballot.

I am really sad to see that local politicians are not using web sites and blogs all that heavily. I guess they see more to fear in putting their ideas in bits than there is to gain from appearing hip and modern.

Sadly, the anger and hatreds about the president race is drowning out the local races.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Novel Writing Month

Blogger announced that November is Novel Writing Month and is inviting bloggers to write their great American Novel online and to participate in the Na-No-Blog-Mo program. Hmmm, maybe I should use this to inspire me to finish The Ghost of Alma Matterson. I left the poor characters hanging for too long. I need to finish them off.

I don't know if they accept half written novels. I don't think the chronological blog format is the ideal mechanism for publishing a novel. So, I will leave my text on my own web site. If I am breaking too many rules...who cares. I don't.

I was wanting to finish a data enabled novel writing program. The program would record where and when each of the characters appeared so that I could use the database structure to assure linear integrity to the work. I guess I also have a novel with zero chances of getting published hanging out with the rest of my zero chance of getting published works.

I will follow the writing of the novel with the blog. I might make the code and structure of the database available.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Site of the Day

For some odd reason that I forgot a long time ago. I made a pile of community directories.

Adding a site of the day program is an easy way to assure that there is fresh content on the sites. Days pretty much change on their own accord. So I can select a large number of sites and let the natural progression of time show a different SoD each day.

Writing a pithy comment program with each site is a big hassle. My big hope was that if people saw they were site of the day, they might look more favorably on the community web sites.

Anyway, I decided to extend the site of the day program with a store of the day. Being blunt, the store of the day program is an attempt to monetize the site of the day program. The problem is that I just don't have the cut throat instinct to promote those stores apt to actual paying me cash. I only want to promote stores I like. It will be interesting to see how this initiative fares.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

That Sense of Ownership

It's been awhile sense I've pounded out a short story. Anyway, That Sense of Ownership is an entry in the "management by story" genre of literature. In this style of writing, business gurus pontificate about some business management trend while telling the story of the dramatic effects that business management has on people and the work place.

In the story telling style of management, the person best at including profound observations about business management get to become CEO and get to become rich.

In my stab at the genre I look at the way that developing that sense of ownership and entrepreneurial spirit can help workers work harder and can help them make difficult self sacrafices for the company. I also look at what that sense of ownership is really worth. uhh??? well. I guess I don't get to be a business guru afterall.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Flip Flopping

Conservatives droning on and on about Kerry's flip flopping is growing thin. For that matter, I suspect that this approach to the debate will have a negative impact on decided voters.

Undecided voters flip flop. Flip flopping is pretty much part of the definition of being undecided! Claiming that flip flopping is wrong will have a negative effect on people who are flipping flopping on the decision of Bush v. Kerry.

The fact that Kerry chances his stance on issues and his voting record seems counter intuitive is not a sign that the man is "unfit to be president." Quite frankly, I would prefer a president who is capable of seeing multiple sides of an issue to one that feels he is somehow personally endowed with infallibility.

The one point conservatives keep questioning is that Kerry was a steadfast supporter of the President and the decision to invade Iraq. Since Kerry is now criticizing the Bush's execution of the war, he is now opposed to the decision he supported just a few years ago.

Think about this for a moment. The conservatives are mad at Kerry for supporting the president when the president needed the country's support. Quite frankly, in the build up to the Iraq War, I felt it was very important to support the president and I alienated several friends by my refusal to take part in protests against the war.

Kerry's support of Bush's leadership during a time of trouble does not mean that Bush made the right decisions in the execution of the war.

From my perspective, it appears that Kerry's flip flopping was the result of seeing Bush's poor execution of the peace and Bush's overt actions designed to alienate the UN and international community.

Saddam Hussein was not a singular threat. Bush's complete and outright failure to build an international coalition empowered with the ability to remove dictators means that the world lost the ability to handle threats like the Sudan genocide. Saddam was not a singular threat. Dictators like this are a dime a dozen. The Sudan genocide, the problems in Nigeria and Liberia show that dictators pose ungoing threats in many nations in the world.

Supporting the president was the correct action in the build up to the Iraq War. After watching the war and seeing our support was misused, the correct action is to withdraw support. This is not flip flopping. This is the way that thinking people behave.

Remember that George Bush the first was instrumental in Saddam's rise to power. Is George Bush the first's decision to oppose his creation an act of flip flopping??????????

George Bush the second made a conscious decision to alienate the international community. He made a conscious decision to enter Iraq without a court system in place to handle war crimes committed by American soldiers (with hundreds of thousands of people in a stressful situation, you are guaranteed to have that need to be tried and the soldiers punished.)

If you look at the ICC, you see that the main objective of the ICC is to assure that there is a court system in place to handle attrocities. The goal of the ICC is to assure that there is a recognized court system in place to handle war crimes.

The ICC is in the process of being defined. Bush could have easily pushed the international community so that the ICC is primarily in the position of recognizing the legitimacy of US courts, and is only to try cases when there is not a recognized court system able to try the crimes.

The American soldiers I know are livid about the prisoner abuses that took place during the war. They are happy to see rogue soldiers tried by a legitimate court for legitimate crimes.

Imagine for a moment the difference in world politics if Saddam were tried by a court recognized by the ICC rather than a victor's court initiated by the US?

Anyway, flip flopping back to the question in hand.

Politics is strange. The way politics works is almost always guaranteed to create situations where politicians can be accused of flip flop. The very nature of compromise means you will vote differently than your hearts desire. For example, you might see an anti tax candidate vote for a tax increase because his vote was part of a compromise. Maybe the compromise decreased the tax by a percentage or maybe the compromise decreased spending. Maybe the tax increase was part of a realignment of the taxes.

The art of compromise, diplomacy and politics makes for extremely odd political histories.

Yes, people who behave totally on instinct do not flip flop and are consistent. People who think about the issues and are actively engage in politics can and will be accused of flip flopping. Personally, I prefer leaders who think to those who act on instinct.

The question of whether or not I prefer Kerry to Bush is still up in the air. I really don't like either candidate. But this droning on and on by conservatives who are opposed to thoughtful deliberation on issues is really wearing thin. The argument that "flip flopping" is evil and that we must act on instinct is likely to push a large portion of the flip flopping undecided vote into the Kerry camp.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Forbes 400

Each year, I take a gander at the Forbes 400, just to see if I get listed among the lucky few that own the United States. Once again, I am not. I believe I occupy position 238,786,019 on the expanded list. The momentous thing this year is that (despite the poor stock market) the list finally broke the $1 trillion mark. In other words, despite the lack luster performance of the stock market, the gap between rich and poor is growing like never before. I don't think we will have very long to wait until the Forbes 400 passes the $2 trillion mark.

Anyway, I always find the list interesting as it shows business and societal trends.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Arches National Park

I've started the process of labeling my photos from Arches National Park. The is so much incredibly good photography from the area, I wonder if my snapshots of the west project is actually doing anything except adding to internet clutter. Shouldn't I just be linking to professional photographers?

When I think about it, though, the goal of my project is not to provide the best photography, it is simply to show people what exists in this world around us. Professional photographers have many imaginative and creative shots. Such artistry is about the photographer's skill level and not the subject.

Arches is a National Park that is absolutely run over with people. There was close to 50 people standing around waiting to take pictures of Delicate Arch with the full moon when I was visiting last month. For that reason, I think my low resolution snap shots with crowded parking lots, crowded trails have an interesting authenticity.

I try to imagine myself competing with the art crowd trying to say why my photo of Landscape Arch is this compared to that...and I just don't see it. The main thing I want to encourage is for people to open their own mind and to see the beauty in the land...and what we are doing to this world as we trammel over it with our HumVees, and extreme sports.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Helper, Utah

I've started labeling my pictures of Helper, Utah. This town is starting to develop a reputation as a arts and crafts center. It is in a nice little area with access to northern and southern, and the real estate is afforable (compared to Park City and Moab. It will be interesting to see how the town fares.

The most interesting thing about Helper is the Western Mining and Railroad Museum which has several stories of displays.

Failure Statistics

It's probably a mistake, but I added a stats overview to the community web sites. The program shows hits by category. For example, the Grand Junction stats page shows 81896 total page views of the category in the site's history. There's been 5629 page views since 9/11/2004 (which is the second to last time I buffered the statistics).

I also made a summary page which shows the totals by community. That way I can guage which communities are getting traffic and which are floundering.

Of course, the problem with showing your statistics is you don't know if people will see these as success stats of failure states.

The next stats project is to show referrals. I don't know if I want to make a full statistics package or just a quick referral summary. I am inclined to making a large stats program. Unfortunately, I would have to buy more disk space to record the data. The sites only return $400 a month and I can't afford the cost of the extra disk space, nor could I afford the cost of putting up my own machine.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Ogden City

I am finally getting around to labeling the pictures I took of Ogden, Utah. Ogden is a hearty little town. Apparently, though, there is not much happiness in the Historic 25th street district. The problem with community development projects is that nasty political vampires are often able to use our higher instincts of community buidling to get their teeth sucked into the veins of the community. As an outsider, I believe that we need to work on revitalizing our central business districts. However, when looking at the politics of things like the Ogden Historic 25th Street district, I understand the instinct to run and stay as far away from the politicians as possible.

Speaking of politics, I watched the Cheney/Edwards debate. Man, that Edwards character is one nasty beast. He did a good a job reminding me why I detest the Democratic Party. Each election, I feel like we have a choice between the worst part of the Republican and the worst part of the Democratic Parties.

Let's look at recent history. Clinton had a historic opportunity to put the US on a solid economic footing. The only reason we had a decrease in the increase of the deficit during Clinton's reign was because the economy grew faster than expected. The budget surplus was a myth...the supposed Clinton surplus was based on a projection that if the US economy continued to grow at an unsupportable rate, we would have a balanced budget in the future. According to the treasury, there was not a single year during the Clinton Administration where the budget actually decreased.

Cheney at least came off as human. Edwards came off as a spiteful attack dog.

This ongoing Democrat/Republic thing is killing the US. Neither party deserve an ounce of support.

Kolob Road

While preparing to upload picture from Moab, I realized that I had not finished labeling the pictures I took of Zion National Park last year. Click the picture to the right for a few shots of the Kolob Plateau in Zion. I am feverishly adding labels to photos.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Score One for Kerry

In a political climate that seems to be polarizing the nation, I found the first Kerry/Bush debate to be a welcome civil exchange of ideas. The debate in which both candidates emphasized the need to play out a strong end game that brings democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan.

I have to mark this first round as a win for Kerry. I believe Kerry did a good job showing a resolution to bring the international community back into the process of rebuilding Iraq. Kerry also seems to understand certain issues like the blatantly obvious fact that the development of tactical nuclear weapons by the US is adding to the problems of nuclear proliferation. The great Rumsfeld who showed the world shock and awe does not understand that when he uses one of his precious little tactical nukes to take out a bunker, he will open a whole can of worms about when and where to use nuclear arms. The tactical nuke debate is more likely to lead to leveled cities than any other current threat.

Backing away from the shrill, I think Kerry is doing a godd job showing people how the opposition parties can and should participate in the political climate during a time of war. Basically, Kerry has participated in the debate throughout the build up to the Iraq War, but has supported the president and the troops when needed. I think the Republicans have done themselves a great deservice by trying to portray this type of participation in the political process as "wishy-washyness"

This first debate has punched holes in the argument that we have to stay the course to bring Democracy to Iraq. For that matter, one could argue that a political defeat of an incumbant would actually do a great job showing the third world a process of peaceful transition of power during the infancy of democracies in the Islamic world.

Of course, I am still worried about Kerry. Like so many modern politicians, I am left wondering if he is authentic or just reading lines in the way that the polls show will be most convincing to undecided voters like myself. Even worse, I fear that Kerry might escalate tensions in the first years of his presidency to show his firm resolution.

Getting back to the shrill sidelines of the debate, it looks like Utah Valley will be part of the Michael Moore show. Mr. Moore's corpulence will be appearing at UVSC on 10/20...The UVSC council wasted their entire budget on this there are student protests. There appears to be a company in Draper that produced something called farenHYPE 9/11 that will refute Moores documentary. In other words, the shrill will meet the shrill and Utah Valley will light up in protest. It will be a sight.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Below is the favicon for this site. I will use the same one for descmath.


Apparently the network outage yesterday was the result of a gas leak in the building next to the NOC. The power company disconnected the power to the NOC and they were not allowed to turn on the generators. I am glad I did call the host. I figure that they were having an extremely frustrating day.

Anyway, when looking at my blogs to assess the damage, I was surprised to see the large number of errors generated by browsers looking for favicon.ico. These were all calling the error I was wasting bandwidth on a file people were not finding. Figuring it is better to waste the bandwidth delivering a favicon.ico than an error page, I've started adding icons to sites. Here's a few:

Crass Commercial United Nations Association of Utah Park City

I am making the icons with a thirty day trial of IconCoolEditor that I got from If I ever get any contracts, I should buy this program...does a good job.

Apparently, if you just create a 16x16 image in the ico format and save it as favicon.ico, web browser will pick that up and use it in various displays. I have the problem that many of my sites are in shared get I need to save the files with a different name and put the code <link rel="shortcut icon" href="/crass.ico" type="image/x-icon" /> in the head of the page.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Site Down

They just came back. My web sites were down all last night and for most of the day today. They just came back.

I had been hoping that I would come across a local web host or local business that I respected that I could tag along with and move the host. As for now it is with some anonymous hosting firm in Illinois.

Anyway, I was getting ready to hit "publish" on a long lament about the travails of web hosting and worries about the age of my last back up. Quite frankly, I know that I will someday be punished by the Gods for doing my development in production...but I do not have a stable living condition and cannot set up a local network for development.

Anyway, I will do the daily spam harvest and perform a back up. I hope the site stays up.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Halloween Candy

Among my various failed crass commercial...I decided that for Halloween my goal was to suggest that people buy and dispense expensive natural candies for trick or treaters in lieue of the cheap sugar bombs that usually fill Halloween baskets. So, I made a Halloween page that featured prominently...they sell bulk natural candy.

For three years straight the page failed to make a single sale. Well, other than the sales to myself.

The poor kids, they hate knocking at my door...they either get fruit leather, gummy bears (au natural) or Fig Newmans (yuck!). Actually what happens is I get greedy and decide to keep the expensive natural snacks for myself, then give the kids garbage from the candy aisle of the local store.

I toned down the health food message...but I wish people would use Halloween to support their local health food store.

Anyway, I just looked at my web stats. I noticed a large number of people coming into my site looking for mother nature costumes. That's odd. Everyone knows that mother nature runs around naked (I dream about her all the time.) Why would you need a costume. It's more like absense of a costume...uh, errr, um?

Actually, the whole idea of buying Halloween costumes seem strange to me. It seems to me that a costume is more of a process than a product and that the best costumes occur when you march into the thrift store and define your own process. In the case of mother nature, you would want to supplement the trip to the thrift store with one to the garden. A good mother nature costume would include a garland of leaves for the hair...and a few plants and flowers. (knowing the name of the plants and flowers would help. NOTE, if you choose to wear shrubbery, you will probably get undo attention from dork in the data department dressed as a Knight that Says Ne. Of course he would be deathly afraid of the word IT ... The word IT reminds him that he is really a data dink living in the office basement. The only product that mother nature would require would be a hand buzzer—She is electrifying, you know.

For that matter, if you are wanting to show the dark side of nature. I think dressing up as Hurricane Ivan would be appropriate this year. For that you would need a large dark grey sheet and a spray bottle filled with water. The hardest part of the costume would be to fill a bag will aluminum scraps that look like they came from a trailer park. If you are really mean, you might do and internet search for "redneck photo" and include them in your bag of trailer park pieces. You would then spend the party wandering around the party showing people what you picked up on your journey through the states...and threaten to douse people with your spray bottle. Since Hurricane Ivan visited Cuba...cigars would be appropriate. Hmmm, the hand buzzer would work for this costume too.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Finding the y-intercept

The link counter i put on this page tells me that many people accessing this site want to know how to find the y-intercept. This seems stange to me. Basically, the y-intercept is the value of a function at 0. The value of y = mx + c at x = 0 is y = m0 + c or y = c.

On my math site, I just started a page called Finding the y-intercept. Please leave a comment on this blog or on my forum if my page fails to answer the reason why you just did a search on y-intercept.

There are deeper reasons why I called this blog yintercept. I will get into those later. I just wanted to get a page up to help answer the questions of people hitting this site.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Employee Risk

I added the idea of employee shares to my rants about the free market. The problem with both options and employee stock plans is that they transfer risks onto employees with not real political power. The biggest danger of employee ownership is that it creates an opportunity for insiders owning the stock to really ream the employees.

The alternative, it seems to me, would be a financial instrument that recognizes that employees already have a great deal of risk invested in their employer...employee shares would be held by the company treasury. The employees would receive dividends and can vote for the board.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Tax Cuts

Apparently Congress is now reporting a projected budget deficit of 2.9 trillion dollars.

The NY Times recently reported that big government blossomed during Bush's reign. Salaries in the private sector were stagnant. The salary gains reported by the BLS were entirely the result of increased government pay.

Kowald Design has a nice graph showing budget deficits. The site fails to mention that, although the US had budget surplus, it is not stick to its budget and there was not a single year in the Clinton Administration when the US deficit actually dropped (See US Deficit). The fact that Clinton did not actually reduce the deficit despite the fact that every single star in the universe was aligned for economic growth is as bad a legacy as any of our last 50 years of presidents.

Mr. Bush, if you are listening, a tax cut ain't a tax cut unless there is corresponding cut in government spending. A tax cut funded by deficits is just a transfer of money between generations. The current $7.3 trillion dollar deficit is a disgrace.

Not surprising, the Democrats answer to the projected deficit is to ream America with a tax cut that will make our heads spin (Americans, bend over and prepare to give up your dreams!!!!!!!)

Apparently, the current crop of Republicans are simply happy that they are getting richer than ever.

On the bright side, many countries in the third world are realizing what American forgot--ie that the government is inherently inept. So when it is time for the American to drop into third world status, the billionaires created by Bush will be able to transfer their fortunes out of the US into a robust world economy (assuming that they transfer their money out of the US before hyper inflation or other economic crash wipes them out).

Political Ad

This is a good political ad:

A person running for Salt Lake County Auditor is taking jabs at the waste of taxpayer's money symbolized by perks like a $600 a month gas allowance. Yeah, I would will vote against SUVs.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Dimple Dell Park

I took Coco on a walk through Dimple Dell Park. We walked from 1300 South through two culverts.

To my surpise, the park ends up at the Sandy Center Trax Stop. If you are in Salt Lake City and are looking for a fun way to spend a day without driving, you can take Trax to the end of the line and walk up Dimple Dell (east toward the wasatch). The walk gives you a good idea of what the Salt Lake Valley floor looked like before suburbanification. Although it may not be the most scenic area of Utah, it is an interesting walk to goes through culverts, etc..

I also walked throug the park and took several shots of Sandy Civic Center area. The walk was about a six mile round trip...Walking through the culverts in the dark is a trip.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Parley's Hollow

As part of the Salt Lake Parks series, I added a set of pictures for Parley's Hollow...a popular off leash area for dogs in Salt Lake City.

In the disappointing news category. The big sale I made was reversed. So I didn't cross the elusive $1000 a month mark as I had hoped. The web site stats are odd. Last month shows page views jumped from 384,989 to 643,526 (250 thousand more page views). The number of sessions dropped from 88583 to 80958.

I was watching the page views during the month and thinking people might actually like what I've been doing with the community sites. The session count pretty much dispells that myth. It looks like robots like the program...people don't. Usage is dropping steadily.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

First of the Month

I watched TV last night. Arnie is getting better at reading his lines. The Republican National Convention was a very interesting contrast between the governator and the two bubbling bushy-twins from Yale. Politics makes interesting bedfellows. It was actually a refreshing combination to include trained speakers with you typically awkward humans.

Unfortunately, I suspect I would be tossed into that category of economic girlie men. It seems to me that the biggest problems we face are with big business. To much economic power is concentrated in too few hands.

In this regard, I've been reading Corporation Nation by Charles Derber. Unfortunately, most of the literature on the problems with big business is coming from the leftest camp. The left answers all problems with greater centralization of power in political hands.

The problem is that our current problems arise largely from the centralization of economic power that occurred during the New Deal. Derber correctly points out that the people who are getting the hand outs during the current privatization process are the same group that worked to build the beast. The prime example is Enron...a company so rife with political connections that they were able to create a business that externalized their risks on unwitting third parties...the state and the people.

Derber is too blind to see that it is the collusion between government and business that led to the inequities that he wants to use for more centralization of political power.

Quite frankly, we are not going to come up with a solution the current inequities in corporate America as long as the debate is dominated by twisted arguments coming from the left.

Speaking of economics. The first of the month is money grubbing time. It looks like my various money grubbing efforts scaped past the thousand dollar mark. My costs are about $200 a month. My little business might soon break the illusive minimum wage mark.

Discouragingly though...most of the money came through a single mysterious transaction. Someone bought 256 boxes of business cards from the Vista Print ad. The commission was $376. I suspect that transaction will get reversed. The other big winner for the month was Sears Home Center. They seem to reverse about 1 in 5 transactions. It takes several weeks for reversals to show my celebrations are premature.

Mount Olympus

This just in: Little brown dogs do not like to walk on exposed desert trails in the heat of the day.

Thinking that things might be cooling down, I took Coco on a afternoon walk up the Mount Olympus trail. The sign at the bottom of the trail said that dogs were not allowed in the Twin Peak Wilderness...the trail leads into the Mount Olympus Wilderness... Hmmmmm??? I've seen dogs on the trail. Anyway, I thought I would see how Coco performed on a steep exposed trail in the heat of the day.

She did not like it. The poor little thing was actually whimpering while we walked. She drank the quart of water I had for her and started into the reserves before we hit the sign for the wilderness area. This picture was taken before turning around.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Research Park

in addition to the Parks, I've decided to add a series of photographs for Salt Lake neigborhoods. On the day I took pictures of This is the Place Heritage park I shot a digital role of pictures of research park. This area houses the super rich businesses associated with the University of Utah. I started taking pictures of Fort Douglas but my camera flipped out. mental note! If ever you get a new digital not drop it.

In unrelated news...I just added a hit counter to this page. It has only 8 visible digits. I hope that will be sufficient.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Parley's Crossing

This just in: For the second year in the row. My Back to School sales page is now officially a bust. The site had 87 visits during the back to school rush and zero sales. I really should be slapped silly for polluting cyberspace with garbage sales pages. At least money losing pages attract visitors. In that category, I added a Salt Lake Valley Parks page the Salt Lake directory.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Olympus Hills Park

I am finally getting around to uploading the pictures from this last year. It is amazing how much getting a new computer throws things off. For some odd reason, my compact flash card reader will not work with my new computer. The mysteries of science. Anyway, I am uploading and labeling the pictures for Olympus Hills Park. Winter 2004 was an exceptional winter.

Blog Changes

It's template change time again. The blog now shows archives in months and there are titles. I have yet to come up with worthwhile content...but form over function is what I've always said.
I watched an interesting program in which professors from the BYU Museum of Modern Art ripped to shreads Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code on KBYU. Dan Brown's book, of course, is a work of fiction. It centers on an intriguing premise that there had been an age old conspiracy to suppress the "sacred feminine." To make the book more interesting, the characters in the Da Vinci Code babble on authoratively about the sacred feminine, the holy grail and the likes. Science fiction allows us the ability to make "authoritative" alternative histories.

I admit, when I read the work, my first thought was that millions of readers might be imbibing this piece of fiction as if it were real. This is probably the closest that many readers have ever gotten to the study of Renaissance history.

There is an extremely long and unhealthy tradition of people claiming secret knowledge and powers in history. All of the third reich stuff was about secret trends in history. Problems occur when we accept compelling fantasies over real history.

Yet, I must admit that fantastical romps through history are also quite entertaining. Dan Brown has probably encouraged more trips to the Louvre (or local museum) than any other writer. The unabashed style of the work has obviously engaged millions in active conversation.

What intrigued me about the BYU broadcast was the overall vehemence with which the BYU scholars attacked Dan Brown's fiction. The introduction to the lectures made clear that this was the "LDS Perspective" on the book, and that the "LDS perspective" was not a happy puppy. (NOTE: you definititely do not want this book on display when the bishop performs his routine inspection of your library! If you want shelves of approved fiction that plays fast and loose with history, might I suggest Gerald Lund.)

Being a gentile in Zion, my perspective of BYU scholars defending the faith against Dan Brown was a battle of dualing fictions. The compelling divine secret knowledge of Da Vinci Code is competing with the divine secret knowledge of the seer, relevator and prophet...the epic battle for control of the mind.

After watching the BYU refutation, I decided to move the Da Vinci Code from the category of fun quick read to the recommended reading list. Historical science fiction can provide us with dualing interpretations of history that can help us clarify in our minds where history is reinterpretted by powerful organizations for their gain.

As the Da Vinci Code has spawned a great deal of interest in Renaissance art. I think it is extremely healthy that the academic community runs with the popularity of the book and actively engages the public with real history.

I guess I should end this rambling with a book I truly enjoyed. Aristotle's Children by Richard Rubenstein explores the preservation of Aristotle's work during the Dark Ages and the revival of the works in the scholastic period. Talking about truly powerful hidden knowledge...logic and natural science really are something worth noting. IMHO, the revival of the Aristotelian logic is the true beginning of modern western culture...nothing frees us from conspiratorial interpretations of history as logic and an committment to sound historical inquiry.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I spent the day replacing door knobs. Odd, but the holes for the door knobs in this particular house were all a bit smaller than industry standard. Some of the old door knobs were hammered or otherwise jammed into their holes...which is probably why they broke after just a few short decades..instead of lasting forever like good door knobs should.

Stop'em with a Schlage Most of the time was spent figuring out how to expand the size of the holes.

Anyway, the secret to replacing doorknobs is to take your key down and ask the hardware store to give you knobs that fit your key. Generally you can match keys if the knobs are made by the same manufacturer. This house in question had knobs from a variety of makers. The owner had bought two new Kwik Set knobs. The old knobs were Schlage and various nameless brands. Being kind, I ran out and bought more Kwik Set knobs so they match.

Monday, August 23, 2004

I've started compressing the photos on Protophoto;

This is the Place Monument

so I will be able to start adding new pictures. I took a quick set of pictures of This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City. I am compressing the images with a program called Easy Thumbnails. The program seems to be washing out the images. I prefer the image quality from Spinwave, but I don't want to spend any money on software until I get the income mess straightened out.

Anyway, I spend the day writing a program that allows me to upload and edit pictures in Protophoto. The next step is to upload last year's photos, label them, then hit the road for a new batch.
Next to the articles about the rising price of oil was one mentioning that Walmart is reporting a drop in back to school* purchases.

When it comes down to economic choices, I really wonder what choices American's will make? Will we choose to live less enegy intensive lives, or will we cut back on education, health care and other soft items.

Now, I realize most back to school purchases are superfluous. However, an article about decreased back to school sales sitting next to one about the burgeoning demand for fuel shows that we are making that choice. Hopefully we are just cutting back on the non-essential accessories to education, but I fear too many Americans would choose to gas the Hummer over their childrens' education.

(*yes, there is an absurd combination of commercialism and moral self-righteousness in this post...but is this not the way life is supposed to be?)
Rather than just calling oil a "drag on the economy," a truly proactive president would mention the need for conservation. The fact that we are wasting so much of our nation's potential on SUVs and RVs is the true drag on the economy. High prices is the way the market responds to wasted resources. The way the game works is we wontingly waste our natural resources until we are in crisis mode and, after Americans have significantly lowered the quality of life in the United States, some people start figuring out that the God-Aweful Hummer in the driveway is the reason for the decline.

To a large extent, the high prices of oil imports is the expected result of the devaluing of the dollar. As oil is usually traded in dollars, there was a hope that the US could devalue the dollar without affecting oil prices. It didn't work. Rising demand outside the US seems is determining the price.

With demand outside the US determining the price of oil, I wonder if we will see a large dip in oil prices this winter. The only long term solution that I see is for people to make better use of the oil they consume, and for Americans to structure their lifes so that they don't have to drive so far...but that won't happen without political leadership.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The New York Daily News reports that 46,000 snowbirds are registered in both New York and Florida, and that several hundred of said voters have voted in both elections.

"Of the 46,000 registered in both states, 68% are Democrats, 12% are Republicans and 16% didn't claim a party."

As this inaccuracy in elections might seems to be leaning toward the Democrats, it is unlikely to add to the claims that Bush stole the elections (unfortunately, both parties pull every underhanded trick in the book to steal elections).

With an increasingly mobile society, I suspect between state votes will just continue to increase. I know I tend to move between states regularly.
The Scream at Art.comSome one stole "Edward Munch's, The Scream. At least now we know what had the little guy in the painting in such a tizzy. He knew that someday he would be the victim of international intrigue. Personally, I suspect that the painting was stolen by Opus Dei in order in their on going efforts to suppress the truth of the sacred feminine. The other possible explanation for the primal scream is that the little guy realized that he was missing his other half.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Mont Pelerin Society is meeting here in Salt Lake City. I was not able to figure out any way to crash the events and apparently they are not holding any meetings open to the public. In this regard, I can see how the society has earned its reputation as a simply being an elitist club of the ultra rich. I like the organization message of defending classical liberalism; however, by excluding the public the society misses the point that the classical liberal ideals are inclusive...not exclusive.

Of course, I can see the need for organizations to limit access so the society can discuss and deliberate. The organization has posted some excellent papers on their sight. As I like the message from the organization, I opened a forum thread on to discuss classical liberalism.

The original goal of the Mont Pelerin Society was simply to preserve the legacy of freedom during the cold war when the governments of the east and west were growing in scope and power.

My personal opinion is that "classical liberalism" needs to move out of its defensive "conservative" position and start becoming "liberal" again. We have to break the spell that freedom is slavery. Our society as a whole has to learn that freedom is liberating.

One of the greatest dangers I see is that exclusive organizations like Mont Pelerin have the tendency to devolve into being nothing more than aplogists for the ultra rich. For that matter, the society needs to address the issue of the increasing gap being rich and poor. Classical liberalism can not simply turn its back on environmental degradation, but it must have open dialog about the challenges of preserving wilderness and resources. Most important, the dialog of classical liberalism has to break free from the halls of a few small think tanks and break into society at large.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Forbes is running an interesting article on increased pressure for tech companies to increase dividends.

Basically, what has happened in the last several decades is that tech companies would hord all of their profits in these massive war chests. The problem is that companies often end up using these big war chests for rather absurd purchases. As such the companies end up consuming themselves. The corporations hording cash tend to squander their wealth.

Giving the money back in the form of dividends lets the investor decide how and where to reinvest or spend the profits. One advantage of dividends is that it forces the investor to actively reinvest or spend the cash.

The other way to distribute profits is for a company to buy back shares.

One big conflict is dividends deflate employee options. This creates an internal conflict for companies. Issuing a dividend reduces the the value of the options of the people that you actually work with.

BTW, this is one of the reasons why I don't think options are that good of a deal for employees. There are too many ways for the corporation to manipulate the corporate stock. Such imbalances also make for ugly politics. The stock holders (the actual owners of a company) have the added incentive for pushing for dividends in lieu of buy backs since the dividend decreases the total compensation received by the workers.

I am no longer a fan of employee options or employee ownership.
Personally, I think it is best for employees to minimize their investment in their company so that they are not dependent on a single income stream.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I added a make link program to Protophoto. The program creates the HTML for a thumbnail link to a picture. The vain hope is that people who want to use images from the site in forums or what not will use the thumbnail rather than linking to an image. Posting an image on a popular forum can really eat up my bandwidth.

I will probably be the only person to ever use the progam. At least it will make it easier to include images in this blog and other projects.

Last year, I ran out of disk space (and bandwidth) on protophoto. I found a program that lets me crunch images in batch mode. If I super compress the images, I should be able to make room for more images. The compression does well for landscapes, people, animals and plant close ups. It does not do well with images of trees, grass or other fractal type subjects.

I really need to put up my own server some day, then I would be able to have gigabytes of diskspace and could include the full images along with the compressed ones.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Oil prices hit historic highs. The stock market seems to be in a free fall as a the result.

The one biggest fault that I find with the Bush administration is that it is not using this increase in oil prices to push for long term reduction in our use of oil.

Conservation is not simply about having is about structuring our lives so that we get the absolute most from the resources that we consume. In this regard, I think the steady increase in gas prices is actually healthy for the economy since it is focussing people's attention on efficiency. For that matter, one of the first jobs I had was to use information technology to help reduce the fuel consumption of a fleet of trucks. The rising cost of a resource created a need for people to figure out how to get more from the resources consumed.

I also had temp jobs in construction. The firms I worked for were actively eying the cost of materials. When the cost of wood was high, they would employ people to salvage the wood. When it was low, the wood added to the landfills. Pulling nails from lumber is not the best job, but it is worthwhile in that it shows a tendency to maximize the return from invested resources as the price of the resource rose.

I think it is the nature of humans to become destructive when the price of resources is too low.

Anyway, hopefully the rise in the price of fuel is getting people to think about ways to realign their lives and businesses to be less dependent on oil. Is is possible to shorten the commute? Or perhaps it is possible to own two cars: a economy car for every day travel, then the gas guzzling jeep for rare excursions?

Sadly, our fearless leader is not really taking this opportunity to push long term conservation. Oil prices are rising and Bush's circle of oil buddies are getting richer than ever. Bush looks at the economy. His circle of friends is getting richer than ever before. Nothing wrong here!!!!!!!

As for my get rich quick schemes (I really should call these a get to minimum wage quick scheme), I've added a Back to School page and a Earth Friendly products page to the various web sites. In my attempts to put your money where my mouth is, it seems that what I should try to do with the sites is emphasize quality over quantity and sustainable living.

Monday, August 02, 2004

The income side of the equation is still too weak. I've been very good about lowering expectations, but the old income seems to be lowering itself even faster than the expectations.

Anyway, I end up wasting the first several days of each month brooding over the income question. Yuck! Anyway, I was thinking of concentrating the money making schems in the area of personalized products. The area of custom engraving is a place where the internet can excel.

At least marketing takes up very little brain just eats up pride. Of course, none of the other little projects are going that well. I keep finding areas that I need to research before completing any of the other sites.

Monday, July 26, 2004

I caught the end of le tour france on cable. I have to admit that cycling is truly a beautiful event. Watching the waving motions of the peloton is truly hypnotic.

I've always seen cycling as a lone wolf sort of sport. It is a challenge against one's self. I enjoy being way out on an empty country road cycling by myself grooving with nature. I never really understood why there were teams, or why people bothered competing.

Quite frankly, in recent years, I've been extremely turned off by the Utah Mountain Cylcling scene ( which is into this extreme "tear up the desert" free falls down the face of cliffs. Yes, mountain bikes can do as much damage to the wilderness as a jeep...or a stick of dynamite. I tend to limit my mountain biking to roads. Trail ride does too much damage to a trail. The mountain bike is the best way to experience canyonlands or the swell...but there's enough roads already in existence. I don't need to carve a new one with my fat tires.

Anyway, seeing, a well formed peleton is rejuvenating. I can now understand why cyclists go through all the hassles of the professional racing circuits to build up the skills ncessary to ride in such a formation. The race itself forms a work of art. If I were to try and ride in such a formation, I would twist the wrong way and knock everybody down. They other cyclists would get reall upset.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The left believes that we should centralize power through ever larger government bureaucracies and controls. The right believes in centralization of power through market manipulations and corporate consolidation.

Hmmm, I wonder where the people who believe centralization of power itself is the problem are to go?

Friday, July 23, 2004

The two new get rich schemes include a BYU Cougars Gear page and a Back to School Page

Last year, the attempt at a back to school page netted zero. Quite frankly, I think people have too much garbage. I stuck a silent plea for people to ride their bikes to school (as opposed to driving). As fo the BYU page, being a U fan, I think it would be an absolute hoot if it made any sales...if I succeed, I will need to treat myself to a beer.

I agree it is stupid the way that everyone spends so much of their day running around trying to make cash. I wonder if the message "think more spend less" could perpetuate itself when attached to an ad.

I've only seen bits and pieces of the hype surrounding the 9/11 Commission report. Everything I've seen has got my bogus meters flashing full.

The main gist of the 9/11 commissiont is that there was just too much of that freedom thing going down in the United States and now we a more powerful centralized police to protect the nation's interests. Yep, their conclusion seems to be to do unto the US what Al Quaida wished to do unto the US...curtail freedom.

The report claims that 9/11 was a failure of the imagination. Then they go on to report that the security experts are now imagining things much worse than 9/11 . The implication is that we are much greater danger because security experts are imagining more.

If anything, there is an reverse relation to what the security experts imagine and our overall safety. The fact that people are much more attentive has increased security.

Now, the fact that we are actively engaged in a war means that security risks are greater. What the experts are, or are not imagining does not dictate the extent to which the US enemies wish to do us harm. The experts' imaginations affect their attentiveness. It does not affect the sentiment of Al Quaida.

The big failure of the pre 9/11 world was not the lack of centralization of security forces, nor even the imaginations of security experts. It is the fact that the US and the western world had turned a blind eye to the oppressive regimes, overpopulation and disaffection of the Islamic world.

If the puppet governments in Iraq and Afghanistan simply turn into the corrupt nepotistic regimes that the US has installed in the past, then we have two new breeding grounds for anti American terrorists...just as the corrupt Saudi Arabia was the breeding ground for the 9/11 terrorists.

If we end up with states like those put in place by George Bush the first, then America is in deep trouble...between now and the next war, the technology gap is likely to lessen.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Here's one for the shrinks. Anyway, I dreamed that Coco, a medium sized black dog, had a zipper. For some odd reason, I had put my shoes in the pouch behind the zipper.
So, I was was walking along. Suddenly, I was in a fierce winter storm. I decided that I wanted my shoes, but Coco would not let me unzip her zipper. She kept curling up and chewing on her leg everytime I tired to open her.
Deep down, I think this dream is my subconcious telling me that dogs really do not make very good luggage even though they are just about the right size for carry on.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Well, my webhost was out for most the day and all my sites were down. Fortunately, I am finally back up. There error messages were all saying that the disk on the host was full, and all database connections were consumed.
So I am left wondering it it was a problem with my code gone wild, if it was a simple hardware failure, or if another site on the web host having problems. My logs did not show unusual activity. There were several malformed bots on my sites today. Days like this make me wish I had access to the server.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Looks like Blogger now has a program to add comments to entries.
It's typical, about a month ago,  I finally sat down and wrote a program to track blogger comments. Oh well, I would rather use the blogger program.
Anyway, I just changed my profile, and erased the links to the small number of comments that were left on my site. I apologize to the two people who took time to respond to posts in the past.
I just made my first electronic quarterly tax payment with the IRS EFTPS tax payment system; So, I saved a stamp, saved Cliff Clavin the effort of sorting and delivering mail, and saved the effort involved in having an office federal letter-opener-person open an envelope.
Having done all that, I now need to make my complaint about how stupid it is that we pay taxes on estimated amounts. I haven't a clue about how much money I will make this year.  If people visit my get rich quick scheme, I might get rich quick. In all likelihood sanity will prevail and I will keep having to work temp jobs for food.
Personally, I think the best way to handle taxes would be to define a special tax account at a bank. Taxes would be assessed as money is withdrawn from the account. If the taxes were taxen out automatically as we did our day to day business, people could better manage their tax liabilities...rather than playing this silly estimating and tax return games that the IRS requires.

Monday, July 12, 2004

This is cool, the service will show you the number of times a domain is listed in DMOZ. The format of the URL is For example ( shows that my little math site is in the directory. Oddly, this info is hard to find in DMOZ itself. Searching on a domain name does not always return a result. I suspect however that this is only accurate relevant after a directory crawl.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

On 7/7 I added to the community directories sites for Glenwood Springs, Colorado and Colorado Springs. Glenwood Springs scored high on my list of place I would evacuate to if I left Salt Lake. Of course, I continue the process of spreading myself too thin. I added Colorado Springs because about every third link I find when looking for web sites in Colorado seem to come from Colorado Springs. Being a cad, I spent the last two days dropping in the ad layers for the sites. I will have to start adding content.