Monday, October 31, 2005

Progressive Halloween Thoughts

Every Halloween people from around the world put on masks and costumes to pretend they are something that they are not. There are a few of us who use Halloween as a chance to take off the masks we wear all year and be ourselves.

Anyway, my Halloween thoughts run back to listening to public radio while on my trip south a few weeks ago. I was listening to the Moab Radio stations. Apparently the public radio station has a program where a local witch (wiccan) comes on each week and does free tarot card readings and dousings.

During the show, the witch and the DJ had a big discussion about how being Wiccan is the most progressive thing a person could do in this modern age. Wiccans, pretty much by definition, are in tune with the universal oneness. They reject the patriarchy and the oppressive western culture. Witches have superior spirituality and are brimming over with wonderfulness. The primary message of the show was that being a witch is Progressive.

I listened as the self proclaimed progressive witch announcer did tarot readings and doused a few questions from the audience. I was impressed that all of the callers were female. I heard that most talk radio is dominated by obnoxious male callers. The witch talked about how any woman who feels spiritual has hidden witch powers and suggested to several callers that they join a coven.

Being an oppressive male, the thing that stuck in my mind was the sentence that being a "witch is progressive." In my education (education being a synonym for patriarchical condiditioning) I developed the fuddy duddy view that dousing, tarot card reading and witchcraft were the ultimate in superstition.

I find this idea that witches are the ultimate manifestation of the modern progessive movement fascinating. I believe that the Progressive movement of Teddy Roosevelt was based on a enduring respect for reason and logic. In my reactionary world, progressive means to me a society progressing with technology and a respect for reason.

The new modern progessive movement seems to simply be a feel good movement. Anything that feels good is progress ... even if it is unreasonable. Or, in the case of witchcraft, promotes superstition and what I consider to be ignorance.

Of course, the idea that reviving superstitions is progressive is one of those paradoxes adored in the modern age.

I do realize that different people have different ideas about the meaning of "progressive". Everyone works to define terms to meet the ends. There may be modern progressives who think witchcraft is regressive.

Back to the modern progressive movement:

I listened to the public radio station the on a different day. This time the talk was about gay rights. I agree with the need to protect gays. This especially true in a relatively backwards state like Utah. So, I was feeling warm and smuggly progressive listening to public talk radio while driving an economy car on jeep roads.

As the talk went on, I learned that respecting gay rights was just kind of progressive. You really aren't progressive until you've slept with a member of the same sex.

Dang, once again, I found myself tossed out of the progressive camp.

That idea was kind of icky so I pressed the scan station channel and ended up with a Christian talk show denouncing the homosexual society. The station was probably timing its programming to its adversary.

I remembered how much I hate talk radio and listened to music and went back to enjoying the beautiful scenery in Utah.

The third time I tried listening to public radio, there was a speaker who was livid because a multinational firm was trying to promote a product that had been touted by the progressive community. The speaker talked about how you have to judge people involved in a product and not just the product itself. A product that usually would be consider progressive that is sold by people who are not considered progressive loses its progressiveness.

A true modern progressive makes their decisions based on who a person is and not what they are doing. This descrimination based on the who and not on the substance of what they do is the only way that we can break the bonds of our opressive patriarchical society.

One of the things that keeps striking me about the modern progressive movement is horribly elitist and judgmental it is.

Since it is Halloween, I thought I would fill my blog with horrible politically incorrect thoughts about the progressive movement and will leave with the most terrifying statement ever made. In my opinion, the free market, free speach, freedom of association and religion are among the most progressive ideas ever conceived.

The modern claim that "regression is progress" that sits at the base of groups Democracy Now is paradoxical rhetoric.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dead Dry

Sarah Andrew's new work Dead Dry is a delightful read. This continuation of the Em Hansen murder mystery series finds our forensic geologist looking into the politics of suburban sprawl. A corpse at the Point of the Mountain in the Salt Lake Valley winds its way back to the suburban sprawl taking over Castle Rock, Colorado.

It is a well written mystery that explores the human side of the water crisis facing the west. The politics of sprawl is extremely ugly. Real Estate development is the primary industry in much of Utah and Colorado. What this economy is wanting to do is to expand until we exhaust our resources and the economy implodes. It is still the same boom and bust mantality that dotted the west with ghost towns a hundred years ago ... except the ruins from this generation will be a toxic wasteland ... and not the quaint tourist destinations of old ghost towns.

Anyhow, the new Em Hansen mystery is a great read.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Floral Shot

This is my first attempt at a floral shot. I can focus on the flowers. This is why you need SLR! I will have to spend more time playing with the f-stop and will have to start relearning the names of flowers. This, by the way, is a yellow flower. There is a bug in the picture. Ha, ha.

I can't wait 'til its Spring.

Nikon D70

I've fixed the site Protophoto enough that I feel comfortable enough to start adding pictures. I moved the account to a different server with a little bit more storage and bandwidth. The old account had only 200MB storage and 4GB a month transfer. The new account has 2GB storage and 60GB bandwidth. I will still have to compress the images. But I can start adding pictures again. Ultimately, I need to get my own server. That way I could start a stock photography selling program.

I bought a 512MB card with my camera and plan to take pictures at the 1MB resolution. This is a decent resolution for stock photography.

I've taken about 600 pictures so far with my ultra fancy new camera. So expect a large number of posts with pictures.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I'm Back

There is a reason why DBAs pull in the big bucks.

My experience to date is that writing the database connection string is the single most difficult job in programming. I've spent more hours agonizing over the simple task of connecting to the database than any other issue.

Anyway, I got back from my Southern Utah trip to find that my web sites were all hosed after the web host moved the servers ...thus changing the database connection string. The process of moving servers meant that some stuff was written to one database, and other stuff written to another.

If you are running a web site, you need to pay your DBA $120k a year to keep the connection string from changing. You can then hire programmers for $50k a year. If you want to save money, you can outsource the programmers. Regardless, you want to keep that DBA good and happy so that your backs ups stay retrievable and your database connection string does not start changing on you willy nilly.

When I get super rich, I will have my own servers. If I was really really super rich, I would hire a DBA; so that I could feel confident that the database connection string wouldn't change without my knowledge.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I Was Wrong

I was wrong. The US Debt to the Penny did not cross the $8 trillion mark before the end of the fiscal year as I had predicted. It is already October 13th and the debt is only $7.955 trillion dollars. This phenomena is due to the fiscal restraint of George Bush. Anyway, we now have the fun game of guessing which day it will cross the big $8T.

Speaking of being wrong. I decided I am wrong about other things as well. That's right, I finally decided to break down and join the yuppy crowd. I threw down thirty bucks yesterday to buy a tent. (gasp).

I want to spend some time photographing tourist traps. So, I figured I would be staying at developed campgrounds. Developed campground hosts always look askew at people who throw a bivvy sack on the ground. One campground host even kicked me out for not having a tent. I guess he feared the campground might start attracting the backpacking crowd. Staking up a thirty dollar tent does a better job of claiming a campground anyway.

I will probably get a good thirty dollars usage from the tent. Of course, tent space might be a bit hard to come by in the future. If China and Saudia Arabia were ever to demand that the US returns all the money they lent us, then we would all be reduced to living in tents.

Monday, October 10, 2005

GWB beats LBJ

The Cato Institute reports that Bush is ahead of LBJ in uncontrolled spending (PDF). Bush has completely failed to sell people on private accounts. So his only really big offering to the libertarian side of the republican party is pretty much a wash out. (The tax cuts don't count ... a tax cut is not a tax cut if you don't reduce spending. It is simply an intergenerational transfer of wealth.)

Clinton played the same game. Many have argued that Clinton sold out feminists and other central core elements of the Democratic Party to gain the center.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Lift Ogden

Perhaps the most interesting debate going on in Ogden is about the future of mass transit in the area. Ogden is a railroading town near the Golden Spike. The town loves its train station and there is a great deal of support for commuter trains. A commuter train to Salt Lake could pull some of the traffic off the bottleneck near Farmington.

While the city's history favors trains and light rail, there also an innovative idea of building a system of Gondolas in Ogden (Lift Ogden has a PDF on the Gondolas). Gondolas take advantage of the third dimension. Intercity Gondolas would be more convenient and faster for intercity transportation since a new Gondola would show up every

The Sierra Club opposes the Gondola as it would bring more people and the need for more services into the Wasatch. Since a gondola would lift people above the fray, it would increase overall appreciation of the beauty of Ogden.

Personally, I would favor mass transit devices leading into the Wasatch. A Gondola would help encourage people to leave their vehicles behind. As much as I love the train, I think the future of mass transit will be with smaller compartment sized people movers that allow for more customized transit.

Think about this for a moment: What is the most popular mass transit device in America? My guess is that elevators move substantially more people each day than trains. Our perception is that elevators conform to the needs of people while people have to conform to the needs of train.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ogden Web Sites

On the issue of community and the web, the Weber County Forum is an excellent example of what a community blog should be. The various members of the site are obviously very active and concerned with the direction of the community. There is a serious desire for Ogden to retain its status as Utah's second city. Posts have information on town meetings (that the blogger obviously attended). The site is even providing valuable public service by including election information on up coming local races.

While I see this as the prime example of what a local blog should be, both the main blog posts and comments seem to ride the same current of cynicysm that seems to pop up in my own thoughts and seems to happen is most conversations.

In response to the feeling that there was too much negative sentiment on WCForum, one of the regulars split off to start a new blog titled The Good in Ogden. The new site has some interesting post such as one on the speculation that the mountain in the Paramount logo was a cariacature of Ben Lommond Peak.

The Good in Ogden is definitely taking on a much more positive stance. It often has above par data and analysis. The writer still falls back to taking snipes at opponents. For example you will see things like "If that is the watchdog, then consider whatever was being protected already gone."

Revenue Tally

The community web sites revenue for September was a paltry $682.52. The sites delivered 6852 hits to advertisers. My guess is that they delivered about 80,000 hits to local sites. Once again, the moral of the story is: Building community web sites with no support from the community is a losing venture.

I manage to collect only about 90% of the take. Hosting costs and what not cost around $300 a month. The sites would be delivering a liveable income if I suceeded in getting people to link to it.

I've had great success in getting people to link to the sites in Colorado. In Colorado, Montana and most other states, people really love their community. In Utah, people tend to divide into camps. If I was way counter culture, I might get support or if I was part of the dominant group, I would get links.

I guess the second morale of the story is, if you want to a community web site, do so in a place where people really love their community.

I know, I keep dwelling on the revenue issue. If I had revenue, then I could hire people to help maintain and add content to the sites. Without a provable revenue stream, the sites will just languish in their current pathetic state.

Anyway, after tallying up the monthly stats, I decided to go the extra step to see where the money is coming from. Only a few of my advertisers let me track sales back to the originating web sites. The table below shows YTD income for those merchants.

TownHitsPct HitsIncomePercentCatsDir ImprsPct
Salt Lake City752838.0%$750.0527.6%28132217244.3%
Grand Junction9324.7%$165.996.1%66450866.2%
Park City7243.7%$94.503.5%58286893.9%
Saint George5042.5%$65.172.4%49210292.9%
Cedar City3371.7%$46.941.7%35117831.6%
Glenwood Springs330.2%$3.980.1%1753160.7%

I've thrown the majority of my effort in building Salt Lake Sites. I've done a great deal of begging for inbound links, I have paid for local advertising, etc.. Not surprisingly, delivers the most revenue. After Salt Lake, I threw a great deal of effort into Provo and Park City. Here's the odd thing, Denver is a new site and I've done nothing with Missoula for the last year. Both towns out produce Provo and Park City.

When I visit towns like Missoula and Denver, I've noticed that there's people who are just happy about being in the place they live.

I also show the stats from my math web site. My original intent was to put a great deal of effort in the math site. My initial tests showed it would do nothing but hemorrhage cash. Times have changed. The data seems to show that I should stop wasting time on Utah, where there is little potential and work on the math and move back to Colorado.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Operation Giving Hope

A few years back, the son of my next door neighbor ran off to the University of New to learn to play himself the guitar. A promising young musician ... unfortunately, it appears that he washed out during his senior year. Don't judge the kid harshly ... his whole class washed out. For that matter, the entire city washed out.

The U of U is letting him take classes this year.

Anyway, I just learned that Ryan Hiller will be playing at Kingsbury Hall tomorrow (Sunday, October 2, 2005 6:00PM) in a fund raising event for victims of Katrina. The show is called Operation Giving Hope.