Do you read what you sign?

In this article, the elected city officials of of Toronto, that's in Canada kids, voted themselves a 12% pay raise.

Then said that they did not know that was what they were voting on.

While this took place in Canada, the same kind of thing happens in the good ole US of A as well. That is one reason that DownsizeDC is trying to get the Read the Bills Act passed. Not to keep elected officials from voting themselves a raise, although that may be a side effect, but to make sure that they READ what they are signing in to law. To many times elected officials have said that they did not know that some particular paragraph was in a bill that they signed in to law.

Please, go read what this bill would do for our country.

A Green Funeral?

Reading an article in The Isthmus today, I was happy to read an article about "Green Funerals". This is something that I have been hoping to see for a while now. It is not "natural" to try to preserve a dead body for years and years, which is the effect of embalming, placing in a steel box and then placing into a vault.

I had thought that the only option left to me would be to be cremated instead of the "traditional" burial of the last 50+ years. Now I know that I need to do some research on cemeteries that allow a green funeral, since there is not a state law stating that you have to even have a coffin.

When it is my time to go, stick me in a plain pine box and dump some dirt over me, if my family wants a memorial, a place to go to lay flowers, they can plant a tree on my grave site, or even plant a tree in my name somewhere else.

Zombie Survival Test

I sent the link for this test to Scott because I KNEW that he would of course post about it to his blog. Scott is the resident zombie attack expert at work. I want to be on his team when the zombies attack.

I scored an 82%, Official Survivor. Jason scored an 87%, Armed and Dangerous. Jamie scored an 88%, Armed and Dangerous.

We have the beginnings of a pretty good survival team!

The Kissers in Concert

Last night I went with my friend Jesse to go see The Kissers at High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI. In a word, they rocked! The number of different instruments on stage was a little different... guitars, bass, violin, mandolin, accordion and of course drums. The often haunting quality of the violin played by Kari kept stealing the show. Kens lead vocals have a unique tone and timber that help make the songs so memorable. The energy of Nate on stage is insane, he just keeps going! Pete plays keyboards, tin whistle and until seeing him on stage I would have never thought of an accordion in a rock band. Joe pounds out an infectious rhythm on drums that gets people on their feet and dancing .

The stamina of the band is something to behold, it felt like they were going to keep playing all night, and in fact they played until after 1:00 am. If you want a rocking good time, go check them out. While you are there buy the CD, "Good Fight!"

Patron Saint of Computer Technicians

Last night someone on #sage-members asked who the patron saint of System Administrators was. This morning, adamm answered:

05:16 < adamm> For whatever reason I just read some of the scroll-back, and say the "patron saint" question. 30 seconds with Google and the answer is "Saint Isidore of Seville." I kid you not: "computer technicians"

Just goes to show that you can find a patron saint for just about anything...

Let the games begin

In preparation of starting a new Dungeons and Dragon campaign, I was looking for a way to update maps and character sheets using a computer. The Internet $deity's have smiled upon me and I was able to find AutoRealm and PCGen.

PCGen is cross-platform and written in Java. It will export an excellent PDF for a character sheet. AutoRealm currently only runs on MS windows, but the developers are working on changing the code from Delphi to C++ and having it run on both linux and Windows.

Using PDFCreator you can print your maps as PDF's (along with any other document).

Let the dice roll.

What should "money" be based on?

This was posted to the LPWI mailling list by Joe Kexel. I think it is a pretty good idea for how to "fix" our economy.

Perhaps soon the federal counterfeiters at the US Treasury will have to abandon their misdeeds and we can return to a more market-oriented non-fiat money. -- . . . Tom Ender

As long as it is based on something truly valuable like water, food, energy and/or shelter. Having an open market for money may be possible, given our current level of technology. The complex exchange rates would drain productivity, though. The founding fathers were likely correct in that a standard of exchange should exist. They dropped that task into the federal governments lap, but we may be able negotiate a new standard. Gold and gemstones are fiat, too. Though, their value is based on the whims of human culture, not government specifically.

Gold as an industrial metal (not jewelry) does have value. However, without the jewelry driven demand, it would be more like silver in value. Every jewelry store seems to be in a permanent state of 50% off?!! The value is whatever the sucker (We mean customer.) is willing to fork over. We need a better standard for our currency.

Diamonds are mere carbon. Not much better than the beads Manhattan was purchased with. The best proof of that is that man made diamonds with incredible purity and precise crystalline structure are worth less than many impure diamonds dug up from the ground, even given their benefits for industry. Real diamonds' values are based in the human mind. They are more aesthetically pleasing. Gemstones are generally... Rocks!

Being rare is not a good basis for exchange. It leads to volatility and potential collapse when the humans change their minds on its inherent worth. I would prefer items that would be valued by life in general. What does a dog value? What does a plant value? What does an insect value? As mentioned above, water, food, energy and shelter. Our basic needs do not change.

In a world experiencing environmental collapse from either natural or human causes, a gold brick will not nourish nor warm you. Even BSE tainted meat would be eaten given enough risk of imminent starvation. A sack of diamonds would be less useful than a bag of dirt, at least dirt may be able to grow something of value.

New Orleans would be an example which we would be wise to note. In the end, the people needed water, food, energy and shelter. They will need all of those far into the future. That is how I defined looting in that event. Take water, bread or batteries and I will call you a survivor; steal 5 plasma TVs and I will call you a thief! The line I drew in the looting scenario, is nearly the same line needed to determine a true item of value to back a currency.

Ideally a new monetary system should create a composite note worth units of things we need to exist. Such a system would be able to expand as the economy grows since we can keep increasing the stores of water, food, fuel and building supplies. This is important to note, there is not enough gold in the world to back the world's economy, let alone the US economy. A great side effect is when disaster strikes we will have the stores to use to preserve our society instead of bunkers full of metal and rocks.

This system will, as our civilization grows, automatically expand our storage of life's necessities as part of our monetary system. I feel this beats the "Faith in the Government" fiat currency and most other precious material fiat systems.

Joe Kexel

(C)opyright Joseph Kexel, 2005. All rights reserved.

Protect yourself and your family, read "The Fluoride Deception" by Christopher Bryson

The Prime Directive

In Paramounts Star Trek there is a common "Law" throughout the different series, "The Prime Directive".

This is a very simple idea. Do not interfere in the development of other people. No matter how good the intentions.

That would our world be like if we used this rule ourselves? Would it be better? I think it would.

Trust people to be able to make their own decisions. Let them be responsible for their lives.

The U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act passes in the House

The House of Representatives passed extensions to the `Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001' Thursday. This still has to make it through the Senate before it is actually extended, hopefully our Senators are smarter than our Representatives.

One quote from this CNN article was: "Periodically revisiting the Patriot Act is a good thing," said Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Massachusetts. "The Patriot Act was an effort to answer the most difficult question a democracy faces: How much freedom are we willing to give up to feel safe?"

Which made me think of a quote by Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers: They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

And another quote, this one from Thomas Jefferson: I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

Why is it that our politicians feel that it is acceptable to take away our freedoms in exchange for a perceived safety?