Month: December 2006

How people destroy hatred

I’m watching Something the Lord Made with Alan Rickman as Dr. Alfred Blalock and Mos Def as Vivien Thomas.

I’m struck by how blatant racism was back then. At the very beginning of the movie Dr. Blalock and Mr. Thomas were in the halls of Johns-Hopkins looking at paintings of the greats in medicine. When the security guard approached Thomas and asked him to use the back entrance, Blalock stepped forward and identified himself as chief of surgery yet the guard still held fast to those ‘rules’.

But in the end, Blalock didn’t let the fact that Thomas was black impact his opinion of the man. Watch the movie, it’s definitely worthwhile.

I cannot imagine what it must have been, or what it must be like to have that kind of institutional racism present in my life.

But fortunately I’ve had my eyes opened on numerous occasions. Keyron is black and even today people write him off because of the color of his skin. If they knew him, they’d find a delightful, smart, and talented guy, but they can’t see past the color of his skin.

When I see it happen I get very annoyed. What will it take to enlighten other people that race isn’t a reason to hate.

While I’m on that very subject, it seems the homophobes have a little secret of their own. There have been a number of studies done and it seems that when you show a homophobe a picture of a naked man or men having sex, their penises tumesce. But they try so hard to suppress those urges that they come out as the most hateful people. The Reverend Ted Haggard comes immediately to mind but there are so many others.

Hatred is such a waste of time. Just imagine how the world would be if we abandoned hatred without reason.

As a strident Atheist I find these amusing

Why do I find these videos amusing? Because it exposes the lie of the current crop of evangelical Christians.

I suppose trying to be a nice guy would land me in the Christ follower camp, except that I’m a flaming atheist. I suppose I can reconcile it since if Christ did exist he more likely than not wasn’t the son of some fairy in the sky, but someone who presented a challenge to the existing hierarchy. Where have we heard THAT story before?

Anyhow, on with the show:

I like this one even more because there’s been an ongoing debate about what to wear at services going on in the letters to the editors of the Providence Journal, which btw has re-designed its web site to make it LESS user friendly than the last two revisions. Way to go ProJo, but then ever since Belo Corp. bought the paper it’s been pretty much fit to line the cat litter pan, and not fit for general consumption.

And I don’t know about you dear reader, but I get a slightly uneasy feeling when I see grown men and women singing to the sky fairies.

The ultra-militarization of police

I got this from Lew Rockwell’s site. Rockwell and I disagree on principle, but his guest writers make some very good points.

In this one A.D. Lelong explains why police shoot first then ask questions.

In the article Lelong is correct in stating that training indicates a three round burst, then assessment. I know this to be correct from talking with current and former police officers. I’ve actually learned a lot.

I’ve learned that not everyone can be an unthinking automaton. As the posting explains, when adrenaline starts flowing, and you’ve got a weapon that’s not only easy to reload but easy to fire, you’re just asking for trouble. Not only that but mixing in proactive policing makes it that much worse.

My version of proactive policing is to get the cops back on the beat again. Get them to know the people in their patrol area, and in some cities they’re doing just that. But we’re rapidly crossing a line, where intelligence gathering is the name of the game. In essence, someone like me who is openly critical of those in power would be seen as a threat. Police are moving from tactical to strategic.

It’s just that I don’t trust my fellow human beings to make the correct judgment in times of emotional stress. Is the answer automatons? We’ve seen the ire that our current batch of automatons creates. Those would be red light cameras and speed cameras. But what about taking it further and using robotics? Would that be acceptable? After all a robot doesn’t experience adrenaline surges, or get emotional for that matter. Companies are already creating prototypes of patrol robots, including Samsung’s latest that will patrol the border between North and South Korea. A basic google search on ‘patrol robot’ turns up a few interesting links.

Winds of Change

Hmm, was it a Jefferson Airplane or a Jefferson Starship tune, I think it was definitely Starship. Talk about fairly tacky music from back in the day.

Anyhow this morning I hear for the first time something I haven’t heard for awhile, the westerly winds whipping around. Not only do we get winds from the west, we also get all that pollution. I suppose northern Europe gets it worse though as those westerly winds probably carry not only the pollution of the west, but that of the eastern U.S. too.

This has been an odd year for weather. It’s been warmer than normal, with highs in November peaking between 55-65F, whereas normal should be 40-50F. On average it has been almost 10 degrees warmer every day.

I’m kind of an amateur weather watcher, and I recall that averages from Novembers over the past few years have been getting progressively warmer. Other things I’ve read say that our summer are also getting progressively longer. I’ll have to plot out the data starting in January and run that for a couple years just to see if it proves out.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it. After 42 years I’ve developed a real hatred for cold, snow and ice. So if we’ve pumped so many greenhouse gases into the air that temperatures in the northeast are rising, so be it. Saves me the expense of moving, and I could soon be living on the waterfront.

So Cox tries to sell you DVR service

I recently signed up for digital cable again. I was getting bored with the expanded basic and I’ll be honest, digital isn’t all that much better but you do get things like IFC, BBC America which sucks now, and a few other little goodies.

But the Cox guy was trying to get me to up to the DVR for an extra $5 a month. I told him I’d be more apt to build a MythTV box than pay Cox any more money, particularly when I heard their DVR sucks.

But here’s the thing. With VOD I essentially have a DVR. For example, I subscribe to HBO and Skinemax (Cinemax)and both have VOD (Video on Demand) streams. I’ve been catching up on The Wire for example, and VOD remember where you left off in the program for at least 24 hours. Too cool!

So you really don’t need the DVR if you buy the subscription channels.

Something unexpected in todays mail

So I get home and check the mail. What to my surprise should appear but a QSL card.

A QSL card for you non-hams is a way to acknowledge a contact. I’ve got quite a few from people I’ve conversed with over the years. But anyhow, this wouldn’t be so unusual except for one little fact. I haven’t been active on the amateur radio bands for a good five years now. Well, with the exception of every now and then firing up on 2m or 70cm bands.

My first thought was, “Uh oh, someone is using my callsign on the HF bands (High Frequency, then there’s VHF and UHF, I’ll let you figure those out. A hint though, VHF is where the 2m band lives (144-148MHz) and UHF is where the 70cm band lives (420-450MHz).

While IM’ing with a fellow ham buddy, I noticed that the card indicated that we ‘conversed’ on 26-11-06 at 14:28GMT, which in my time zone would be 9:28AM. It happened on the 20m band on 14.001MHz and my RST (Readability, Signal and Tone) was 599 which is pretty much excellent.

The conversation mode was CW (Continuous Wave) or morse code for the uninitiated.

I’m afraid that DL6IAN didn’t copy a callsign correctly, else I’d not have gotten his QSL card. But here’s the thing, he needs RI to get his Worked All States certificate, so I’ll send him a nice QSL card. Least I can do for the guy, particularly since he did spring for postage and included an SAE (Self Addressed Envelope).

Oh, a bonus:

The formula for getting the band wavelength in meters is 300/f where f is the center frequency of the band. So in the case of the 2m band which runs 144-148MHz I’d take 146MHz as my center and 300/146 = 2.05m. Other bands don’t work so nicely, 70cm is actually more like 66 or 67cm. But we abhor lots of decimal places if we can help it, so we round it up to70cm.

70cm btw is ab out 27.6 inches. That’s the distance it takes for a complete sine wave to occur.

Can you tell we hams like acronyms? And to my regular readers, sorry I went a little technical there. Had to do it though and you likely learned something reading this post.