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I am an extremist.  I read Linux Journal, and the readers of that magazine have been labeled by the NSA as extremists.  And not only am I a reader, I subscribe to the magazine.  I’m paying to support extremism!

So, since I have been granted the label, I may as well put the tattoo on my blog.

LJ-Extremist-black-stamp

My esteemed technical cohort Dave Farquhar also has some wise words on the subject.

I find animal mimicry fascinating.  One animal looks like a different one, in order to avoid being eaten.  Some insects look like leaves, or twigs, or yucky-tasting things.  They get left alone, enabling them to continue to live another day.

I have recently found a previously unreported example of animal mimicry.  I have seen a ladybug – one of your normal household, get-inside-when-it’s-cold ladybugs – imitating a possum.  I know, the visual differences between the two are huge.  And yet the ladybug was doing its best, from a behavior aspect.  It was flipped over on its back, just like a possum playing dead.

It has been that way for a week and a half now.

I think I’ll give it another week and then tell him (or her) that it has won – everybody is convinced that the ladybug is a possum.  It will be quite happy, and have a good story to tell all the little ladybug grandkids.

John Gilligan died this past week.  He is a former governor of Ohio, though before my time here.  He is famous for initiating corporate and personal income taxes in Ohio, in 1971.  I have heard him described as a liberal Democrat.

The Wikipedia article on him does not mention the taxes.  It also omits this great line, from the WaPo article.

When a reporter asked if the arriving Gilligan was going to shear a sheep on the fairgrounds, the governor said: “I shear taxpayers, not sheep.”

The Wikipedia article does mention his daughter, Kathleen Sebelius.  I am sorry for her loss.  But I would be remiss if I did not note that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.  She is currently in charge of Health and Human Services, and is pushing strongly for Obamacare.  She wants to allow illegal immigrants to sign up for Obamacare, and is making fundraising calls to healthcare companies in support of it.

I think the shearing of the taxpayers is continuing.

I’m staying away from politics for a while – I find that I get bothered easily.  So here’s something from the real world that bothers me.

I’m part of a FreeCycle group.  People post to the newsgroup when they have something they don’t want anymore, rather than pitching it.  I’ve seen everything from egg cartons to projection TVs.  People can also post with wants – a family gets burned out and needs new furniture.  A kid wants a particular doodad for a school project (the last one I saw was for hearing aids).  Lots of people offer excess plants.  We have been the beneficiary of multiple things, never posted a want, and have supplied at least one person’s want.

This want was astounding.

WANTED: Laser for a 40 caliber handgun

Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:42 am (PST) . Posted by: (redacted)

Springfield 40 caliber hand gun, I read it is attached to the barrel rod? Need it for training.

Well, then.  That makes sense. This person has applied for a job somewhere and wants someone else to donate a $350 piece of hardware.  If the donor has it, they bought it on purpose – this isn’t a plant that self-propagates or an egg carton that has outlived its usefulness.

Earlier this year, when we were cleaning out our shed, we came up with a bicycle, an electric mower, and a metal cart that we didn’t want/need anymore.  We took them down to the street, taped FREE signs to each of them, and let the market work.  We were gone that Saturday, and when we got back, the items were gone.  Somebody benefited from our generosity.

But begging for a $350 specialized piece of equipment?  Naah.

Another aspect: if they need this for their job, it’s part of job start-up costs.  Count that in when you apply.  At my old job, I needed a piece of software so that everyone could upgrade their software easily.  I wrote up the business case and we purchased a worldwide license for Beyond Compare.  I switched jobs, but the software didn’t.  Last month I bought my own copy (personal) for my workplace.  I can use it, work and home, forever.  I bought it, and I plan on using it at my current job for the rest of my work life.  My employer didn’t owe it to me.  The world didn’t owe it to me.  I wanted it, and I bought it.

And I’m staying away from politics.

Note: details of the want ad are munged for privacy.

My church partnered with another church in town to put up white crosses in their yards, as a memorial to the four thousand babies who are aborted every day.

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That was how we left it on Saturday.  There were a few crosses that had fallen down by Sunday morning – deer, wind, and feeble hammer hits accounted for those.

On Sunday night, though, somebody decided they didn’t like the crosses standing up in nice rows – so they drove through the crosses.

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Twice.

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In all, after the police had come and a group of men had set up the crosses, we lost about ten to damage.

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That was a sad picture for me – it reminded me of the broken bodies of aborted babies.  Which reminded me of Jesus dying on the cross, broken under the weight of the sins of the world (including mine).

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The people that did this – they shouldn’t have.

And Jesus dying on the cross?  He shouldn’t have, because He was sinless and perfect.  I’m glad He did.  And though I have to work to remember it sometimes, He died for the people who drove over the crosses.  The difference between those people and me isn’t a matter of kind – we are all sinners – it’s a matter of degree.

And whether they have accepted Jesus as their savior.

I like computers, and I like my new job.  It’s not so new, I guess, since I have been there over five months.  I still like it.

I get to dig down deeper into applications and computer systems than I did before.  I get messy (metaphorically) working on all sorts of different things.  At times, when the solution doesn’t present itself quickly enough, you have to dig a little bit.  Go down beneath the shiny GUI, past the middleware, and get down into the guts of the thing.

If you have used the internet (you know, like maybe for reading this blog post), you have used Unix/Linux boxes along the way.  It may be directly (yes, your Android phone is running a version of Linux), indirectly (most web servers run Apache, probably on Linux), or in desperation to resolve a problem.

One of the places where Linux differs from Windows is in its use of the command line instead of Windows, Icons, Mice, and Pointers (WIMP – an acronym chosen by the Linux folks, I’m sure).  As you may have seen in the desperation link, disk drives get mounted – they aren’t just there.  Windows probably does something similar, but it is hidden in another layer you don’t usually see.

A news article reminded me of all this recently.  Iran test-fired a rocket containing a monkey, which supposedly came down safely.  The news story contains an explanation of why they showed pictures of two monkeys when there was only one in the rocket.

scratch_monkey

I have my doubts about the well-being of the monkey on the rocket.  I hope Iran learned from the failure of others and mounted a scratch monkey.

Bettie and I traveled to the Knoxville area recently for my niece’s <a href="http://marksephemera.blogspot

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“Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom.”

– Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as seen in Peter’s Principles

That’s right.  In a comprehensive survey of everyone sitting in the driver’s seat of my car, conducted immediately upon leaving the polling location, one hundred percent of those surveyed voted for Rick Santorum.

100%!!  I don’t think I have seen numbers that high in a Republican Primary here in Ohio.

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Last Tuesday was the State of the Union address.  I didn’t watch it.

When I was younger (much younger), I thought the State of the Union was a prize.  They picked one state each year, and that state got benefits.  Sort of like it being your birthday all year.  What benefits?  I don’t know – I was probably ten at the time.  But I kept hoping that New York would get it.

Unfortunately, the State of the Union is pretty bad.  Unemployment, foreclosures, and gas prices are up.  Morale and consumer confidence are down.  What to do, what to do?

The solution is not in voting for any particular candidate, nor is the answer a return to exactly what Reagan did.  The solution will come from many different places – less regulation in our lives, less government, more freedom – and more initiative from the people.  If we insist on buying the cheapest doodad, we can’t gripe that everything comes from overseas.  If we complain without acting on our beliefs, we deserve the government and economy that we get.

That being said, I do think that Republicans are in general better than Democrats at supporting smaller government and pushing the initiative down to individuals instead of pushing it up to bigger government.  And the Tea Party is better at that than the GOP establishment.

I just watched Newt Gingrich give his “We’re gonna keep on going” speech after coming in second in Florida.  Right now, I would pick Mr. Gingrich over the other Republican candidates.  He’s not perfect, and if Romney wins the nomination I will definitely vote for him instead of the current president.

Gingrich is a man of ideas.  During a debate in Florida, Gingrich rolled out his plan for a moon colony, using prizes as incentives.  Prizes are cost-free until the goal is reached, and can be applied to all sorts of things at all sorts of levels.  When Romney was asked about his thoughts on space, he came out with a mess of “I will assemble the best minds in the private sector, government, and military, and will come up with ideas, and form a plan, and . . .”.  That’s probably not a direct quote, though it captures the intent.  One candidate is clear and direct, one candidate wants to rule by committee.  If we want rule by committee, let’s keep NASA around in its current form.  It is overweight, ponderous, and unable to move ahead.  It’s possible that it can be reinvented, but it’s more likely that it will be torn down like Launch Pad 39-B.

I don’t know the future.  I don’t know who will be the Republican nominee this year, and I don’t know who will win the 2012 election. I’m not worried about the Mayan end-of-the-world prophecies. I am more concerned that God may have turned His back on the USA, after decades of us turning our collective backs on Him. So I have preferences about the political scene.  Even greater, I have convictions about the God scene.  This nation won’t last, whether that takes years, decades, or centuries. God’s kingdom is eternal, will last from everlasting to everlasting no matter who is elected president, and can never be torn down.

That’s something worth investing my life in.