Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry belated Christmas to everyone!  Hope you had a good one!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Asbestos Companies

So I was going through pictures at the archives today and I came across some interesting ones.

These are from the town I live in.  You hear a lot on the news about asbestos related illnesses (and in fact, two of my grandparents died of those, asbestosis I think) and about how you should call an attorney to get some money out of it. 

Have you ever seen someone do an asbestos abatement?  We had some tiles at a school of mine that turned out to have some asbestos in them.  They take it seriously, it is like a chemical weapon spill.  For a tile.  It is hard to imagine that people actually used to just work with the stuff.  Those guys working on the asbestos chimneys probably didn't wear any form of protection against the stuff. 

Of course, it is only now that we know about the various mix of cancers (mesothelioma being the one you hear about most) and other illnesses (pleural plaques and effusion, along with asbestosis) that asbestos causes.

There was an asbestos mine up on the mountain that I have some pictures of.  I'll probably post those sometime.  These guys are mining without any forms of breathing protection, but of course, none really existed or was thought necessary.  My how times have changed.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The stare down...

I was walking back from human resources after turning in time cards the other day (which apparently falls under "any and all additional duties as needed") and I came face to face with a vicious looking animal!

He saw me...

Then walked away.  Oh well, maybe not so vicious after all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This is an emergency...?

I'm not really sure in what situation lack of paper constitutes an emergency... but... to each his own.

Yes!  Call law enforcement!  Your lawyer!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

College Life

Working at a college tends to create some weird situations.  We had a person in my department unexpectedly die last week.  It was odd, it leveled her so quickly.  A few weeks ago, her vocal chords became paralyzed.  She died of parathyroid cancer not long afterward.  I didn't know her very well, but they closed my department and a lot of us went to her funeral on Thursday.

On Friday, we immediately turned around and had a surprise birthday party for our Dean.

Anyway, not much else to say, so here's a picture:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back to work woes...

Well back to work today after a long weekend.  I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!  Feel free to share about any family brawls.  The closest we got was when two sides of a very religious relatives got in a heated discussion about whether or not drinking was ok.  Whoo.

Luckily, when I got back to work, the networks at the college (or at least our connections) were broken.  Somehow they were set to read-only so no one could create or modify their files.  This is a pretty big problem.  We have a good IT department here, so they sent someone down.  He attempted to fix it, but mostly just screwed it up so that our connections were broken and we could not even open them.

Long story short, I went to work today, did very little actual work, apologized to researchers and volunteers, and then went home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyeone!  Heading out of town for a few days.  Doing anything fun?

Monday, November 21, 2011

80's Hair, Part 2

Hey, I just thought that maybe I should post some more of these:

Again, I move that the bigger hair, the better.  These are from a college people!  A college!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Big Hair!

I was going through some pictures at work and came across some pretty awesome examples of 80's hair:

I think those hair styles should make a come back.  Who's with me?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 16 - Minor Work Annoyances

And here we are again, I think I'm going to talk about some of my latest work annoyances.

I work at a college and we, like every other college and university, have a public relations department.  These are the people that issue press releases, put together the pamphlets and brochures and whatever ever else that gets released to the public.  Unfortunately, my department holds most of the photographs older than the last couple of years.  When public relations needs to issue a new... say... basketball brochure, they come to us to find older pictures of record holders and such.

Unfortunately for them, we have folder after folder labeled, "Basketball" with no dates and no identifications on any of the actual photographs.  Thus, when PR decides they need, NEED, a picture of Joe so and so, I get to spend the day looking through all of these folders, hoping to run across the right guy.  No idea what he looks like, no idea what his number is, but they expect results.  The next day.  For the list of seven basketball players from the late 80's and 90's.

Ah well, I just finished one of those.  They told us about the request late Friday last week, a sent a "how's this coming along" email on Monday and every day after.  Thanks, answering your stupid emails really is going to get this done quicker.

Anyway, feel free to share your work annoyances.  Doesn't matter if it's a big deal, I know mine isn't!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10 - Wow.

So those of you who have been following my blog know that I work in a college and I tend to do a lot of research.  Every once in a while, I run across something that makes me go WHY!?

Ahem.  Anyway, I thought I'd share this with you:

There you go.  Apparently, this woman who will haunt my dreams is some semi-famous person from about here's mother.  Also, AHH!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 6 - Still no snow.

Another potential snow storm passed us up.  I really like taking pictures of those, but nature isn't cooperating.  Here is one from the last storm:

I liked this one because it kind of looks like a paiting.  Yes, it is through a window.  It was too cold outside, what do you want from me!?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2 - No snow?

Ok, maybe a little.  That snowstorm turned out to be a lot less impressive than I was led to believe.  During the day yesterday, the weather channel reevaluated the situation and revised the 8-10 inches of accumulation to 1-3 inches.  Which also leaned more toward the 1 than the 3.  In any event, I was able to take some pictures of the snow last night, so here you go!

Hope you enjoy them.  Maybe I'll get another snowstorm here soon.

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31 - Happy Halloween!

Happy halloween to everyone!  Hope it's a good one.

In other news, a big snowstorm is supposed to come through here tomorrow, so I should have some interesting pictures to post.  Tune in then!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 27 - The Volunteers

I may have mentioned at some point that I work in basically a museum.  We try to make as much of our collection searchable as possible.  Unfortunately, our pool of labor is pretty limited.  There is a group of 80 year old volunteers that come in and attempt to help out, but they usually end up giving us more work in the end.  Here:

Ok.  5 unkown caddy strippers.  Seriously this went into one of the volunteer's databases.  Luckily we don't give them access to the real ones.  For the curious, they are supposed to be Candy Stripers which are old timey hospital volunteers.  Anyway, I'm not entirely sure who came up with the idea that these people should have access to a computer, but I'm thankful for the new business model for golf.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 23, 2011 - Some Pictures!

Time for some new pictures!

Snow!  Good thing it's only on the mountain... not a huge fan.  Hopefully it waits a while before the real snow begins.

Also, what the heck is this?  I couldn't get close enough for a better picture, but this spider was silver.  Ok fine, I refused to get closer.  It looked singularly evil.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Law of Water Part 2

When we last met, we had barely scratched the surface of the study of water law.  The first method of water allocation that we will discuss is called Riparian rights.  Landowners bordering a waterway are considered riparians.  It is by virtue of having land abutting water that gives them certain rights under the laws of most states in the United States.  Historically, landowners next to water had great advantages over those landowners who had no ready access to water.  It is easy to see why, aside from providing basic necessities such as food and water, access to the water allowed mills, later industrial uses and recreation.

Historically, American jurisdictions subscribed to a "natural flow" rule that gave every riparian owner to have the water in such a state that other users would not diminish the quality or quantity of the flow.  Such theories proved to be impractical however, because any use would diminish the water in some perceptible way.

These days, most jurisdictions espouse a "reasonable use" principle.  This does not mean that the use itself must be reasonable, but the use must be reason in relation to all other uses.  The result of which is a confusing tangle of rights based on land ownership, land size, and proportions.

None the less, riparian rules apply in 29 states and are therefore important.  These states however are generally ones where water is plentiful.  Our next segment will examine prior appropriation, a method used when water is scarce.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Law of Water - Part 1

After a short break from blogging, I have decided to make a comeback writing about a subject near and dear to my heart, that being water law.  There are few areas of law that are defined by access to a particular resource and especially a resource of such catastrophic importance and variety of needs it fills.  Aside from the obvious quenching of our thirst, it grows our crops, provides a habitat for fish, and satisfies recreational and aesthetic needs.  The list goes on and on.

Water is one of the most plentiful substances on the planet, but it is precious because there never enough water of the right quality, in the right place, at the right time.  Water might be little thought of on the coasts, but in the central United States, the competition for access to water resources is fierce. 

Because of the inequalities in access to water found throughout the United States, American jurisdictions have developed radically different methods of allocating the resources: riparian, prior appropriation and hybrid.

Next time, we will start to go over these different types of law showing just how differently we have dealt with the allocation of water.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26 - Need a better camera...

So I went down to the river again a couple days ago and attempted to take some pictures at night:

Yeah.  I have come to the conclusion that my camera kind of sucks at low light shots.  Any camera people out there have any advice?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21

Time for a work rant.  I basically work at a museum.  We keep track of everything using Microsoft Access.  Lately, someone donated a new collection and the decision was made to create a new Access database to manage it all.  No one in the office knows anything about Access.  IT is completely overloaded and we are basically bottom rung.

I had the most experience with computers, so I was basically told to figure it out.  Fine.  Tinkering around, I think I figured most of it out.  Here is where the problems come.  Each one of our computers uses a different version of Access.  The person who will actually deal with the database has 2000.  Serious.  2000.  I have 2007, all the research computers have 2003 and we have one random laptop with 2010.  These do not play nice together when you are attempting to create or change anything.  Searching, fine.  But you dare change the name of a column and everything is shot straight to hell.

But Scott, you say, surely there is a way to standardize everything.  Yes, random blog person, there is.  If IT could get a few (dozen) more people.  So, basically, no dice.

Anyway, what kind of work annoyances do you deal with?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 17

I was filling out a request for a forebearance from my student loans yesterday.  I was thinking about how this is getting a little demeaning sitting here begging the government (mine are consolidated) not give me a little more time to get my finances together before I start paying them.  I read about a petition online concerning student loan forgiveness.  Groups are pushing the government to forgive all student loans.  Ahh, I thought, that would be nice, wouldn't it?  To be free of student loans?

Sadly, student loan forgiveness can't, and frankly shouldn't, happen. The money you are loaned does not magically appear, it is the result of investments. You cancel the loan and someone along the way loses that money, and who should be left holding the bag?

And this isn't completely heartless either. What do you think will happen to future student loans if they are forgiven? Who will invest in student loans? No company would touch them.

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but that pretty much leaves the government to take care of everything. If the recent debt problems are any indication, I'm not terribly confident they can or have any inclination to take over the student loan business.

I would benefit greatly from student loan forgiveness. Law school isn't cheap, and I haven't been very successful finding a job in my field. They do need to work on how they issue student loans however. Giving people realistic expectations of their earnings potential should be mandatory. If you are studying art history, you should know that the chances that you actually use the degree you are paying for are slim.

I heard somewhere that the student loan bubble is a lot like the housing bubble and when it pops, its going to be bad. Let's hope they figure out something to do about this, because I wouldn't want to see that happen.

What about you?  Do you have student loans?  How's it looking in paying them back?  Think we should forgive them?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15

Hello again everyone.  Been gone the last few days moving.  Bigger apartment which is nice, but unfortunately the garbage disposal backs up.  Hope it's not too big of a deal to fix.

Anyway, on to pictures!  These are ones I didn't really expect to use, but you get to see them anyway.

I was wondering what this rusted thing was.  Oh well.

Just thought this one was cool looking.

All these pictures (expect the Utah ones) were taken with my Droid Incredible.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11

I think I'm going to forgo the September 11th rememberances I've seen all over the place and post some pictures:

This is up on the mountain.  I liked this picture

A little view of the surrounding areas.

Took a bunch more on the mountain while I was up there this weekend.  I'll be posting them this week!

Ok ok, I was in German class in 11th grade when I found out about the attacks.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8

Ok, last pictures for a while, or until I get time to go out and take more.

These are both from where I used to live in Utah.  Nice place, I should go back and visit. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 6 - The River

Never been much of a picture taker.  But I figured I might as well start using the camera on my phone.

I need to get a waterproof camera and take picture floating the river.

I basically live in a desert.  Who missed the memo?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September 4

As promised, more pictures.  These are from the hot springs at Thermopolis, Wyoming.

That place is amazing, I'm glad I had the chance to visit.  I'm told they are the largest hot springs in the world.  If you're ever wondering around Wyoming, check them out!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September 3 - Pictures!

On this day in 2011, I took some pictures around town.  Allow me to share them.

The river, need to get my kayak out!

The aftermath of some flooding we had.  Sidewalk is ruined!

Took a few more, but I'll wait till later.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

September 2 - The Great Fire

On this date in 1666, the Great Fire in London began and ravaged the city until September 5.  Almost all of the city's inhabitants were left homeless.  The city was a giant firetrap, with most structures made of wood with fires going inside.  The fire actually started at a bakery, and then spread unchecked to consume much of the city.

Fire fighting methods were limited in those days.  Essentially London had a local militia that relied on water they could carry and demolition to control fires.  Creating fire breaks by pulling down structures was exceedingly common, and many historians think that liberal use of this method was what eventually won the fight against the Great Fire.

The city lay in ruins and even the king, Charles II, suggested settlement elsewhere.  In time, however, all proposals for movement or restructuring were abandoned and the city was rebuilt in essentially the same way as before.

It is exceedingly difficult to gauge the cost of the Great Fire in terms of lives lost.  Most official reports placed the number in the single digits, but these probably ignore direct losses to the poor inhabitants and ancillary losses after the fire.  Many people may have been incinerated by the blaze, or perished later due to smoke inhalations; further, many people probably died in makeshift camps constructed to house people afterwards.

So there's a happy thought for you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 31 - And Movies were Born

On this date in 1887, Thomas Edison received the patent for his Kinetoscope, the precursor to modern projection film.  Early versions were used by a single person who viewed the film through a window on the top of the device.  The Kinetoscope worked essentially the same way as modern film.  Sequential images are shown at high speed over light to create the illusion of movement.

As time went on, improvements to the design created the ability to add sound and earphones to the films using a phonograph.  Later, it was also able to project film, in a manner not much different than we use today.

The first copyright for an identifiable motion picture was given to Thomas Edison for "Fred Ott's Sneeze," which, predictably, depicts a Fred Ott's sneeze.

I don't know about you guys, but I always think it's interesting to look back and see what kind of 100 year old technology we still use today.  We make leaps and bounds in areas, but film doesn't change much, neither have radios.  Any other kind pieces of technology that haven't changed a whole lot over the years?  Things we still use?

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29 - What the hell IRENE?!

So after days of media blitzes about the incoming catastrophic storm, turned out Irene wasn't quite as vicious as we had been led to believe.  New York didn't quite float away, and the mandatory evacuations turned out to resemble offhand suggestions.

Kind of makes me wonder.  I had always considered the weather channel and weather people a special case.  They were never right, but I had never really pictured them as fear mongering.  But, just like other members of the media, it pays for them to be outrageous.  Fox News gets to complain about the socialists and gays, basically everyone else gets to complain about the uncaring, callus conservatives.  They cater to their demographic, and I don't fault them for that.

But the weather channel?  Unlike other members of the media, they don't fall upon party lines.  They are generally seen as information to all.  I know what to expect when I turn on Fox, but I tend to think the weather is neutral.

So here's the problem: the weather channel gets more viewers coming up to a disaster.  The worse they make the disaster sound, the more viewers.  So do you trust the weather channel to tell the truth?  Even when it is against their best interest to?  Is my tinfoil hat on a little too tightly?  Should I just let bygones be bygones with the weather channel and they can do what they want?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 27 - I'm thinking ebook readers.

So I've done some cursory research about ebook readers lately, and I've come to the decision that I'd like to own one.  So basically, I thought I'd spew out my almost entirely malformed and half-assed opinions about the three on the market now that have any appeal, and then you can tell me how wrong I am.  Ready?  Go!

Kindle 3

Ahh, the Kindle.  Mainstay of the public, bringing ebook reading to the masses, so long as you buy the file from Amazon.  Closed system with a friggin keyboard.  What's that about?  Are people really writing notes in their books?  Now convenient is that with an eink screen, no touch, and a directional pad?  Seems like it takes up an awful lot of space (and makes companies like iRiver decide it's a great idea and blatantly copy with the Story).  On the upside, the Kindle is pretty cheap right now, especially if you go for the ones with ads.  A lifetime of inconvenience for merely $25!

Nook (2?  Wifi?  Rubbery?  Touch?)

The Nook.  I had high hopes for you to begin with.  Your big brother looked so sweet and worked so poorly.  I would have bought him if page turns didn't take 45 minutes.  Yes, you got better, but by then, it was already too late.  But wait, a new one was on the horizon!  A Nook with a touch screen!  Rubbery back, contoured for easy holding!  As cheap as a regular Kindle!

As a side note, I have a child.  I was reading him a Dr. Suess book and there was a creature named the Nook.  The Nook cannot read.  What the...?  Look it up.

Kobo (Touch?  Shiz?  Out of business?)

Screw you Borders.  That is all.

Well there it stands.  I think we can clearly see where I fall on this list.  Anyone have an ereader?  What kind?  Do you like it?

Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26 - The Hurricane Cometh

Hurricane Irene is it on its way to the east coast of the United States, so I wanted to take a few minutes to wish all my friends good luck through the storm.  So.  Good luck yo.

Anyway, have any of you been through any particularly interesting storms?  Years ago (and I don't feel like looking up the date) I went through a Super Typhoon.  Paka was the name, I lived on Guam at the time.  Damage didn't seem too severe at the time, but then again, I was pretty young.  I lived on the airforce base.  The housing was basically bomb shelters.  They all looked the same, concrete rectangles.  Not particularly water tight.  I spent the night helping my family mop as the wind blew water into the house.

Share some storm stories!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25 - Bobbing for Apple

So Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs recently resigned his post citing health problems.  I'll be the first to say that I'm no Apple fan.  My first and only piece of their equipment was an iPad I got as a present.  I skipped iPods for sansas and Zunes and never felt the need to pay extra for a similarly spec'd PC.  Be that as it may, no one can deny that Apple changed the landscape of consumer electronics, and I would have to say for the better.

Apple certainly wasn't the first to come up with a portable drive based music player, but they certainly did it with the best style and marketing.  It is easy to fault Apple with having a cult like following, but such things don't simply pop into existence.  A company doesn't magically gain a following.  Whatever Apple did, it did it well.  Products such as the iPhone and iPad continue this trend.  Slick looking electronics, in the price range of a wide variety of people.  Clearly, "It just works" appeals to people.

What do you think?  Has Apple done the world good?  What will happen now that Jobs is stepping down?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24

On this day in 1989, Pete Rose was banned from baseball for gambling.  This has always struck me as kind of strange.  It was my understanding that he never gambled as a player and only admitted to gambing ON his team as a manager.  I'm not entirely sure why he is therefore banned from baseball.  I suppose it is a fine line to walk between betting on and against, but that's basically what managers do every night.  What do you suppose happens if they start losing?  They are fired.  If they win?  They'll likely get a raise.  If Rose had bet against the Reds, and managed to make them lose somehow, 1) it would probably be pretty obvious, and 2) he would essentially be shooting himself in the foot unless this were a monumental bet.  In the end, he is certainly a baseball great, who may have made poor decisions.  He certainly wouldn't be the worst guy to enter the Hall of Fame.

What do you think?  Betting as a manager ok or not?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 20

On this day in 1980, Italian Reinhold Messner completed the first solo ascent of Mt. Everest.  Without oxygen.  The highest peak on Mt. Everest is some 29,000 feet above sea level.  When you get that high up, the levels of oxygen in the air drop dramatically.  Think about having to take three breaths for every one closer to sea level.  This, while performing the most physically demanding ascent in the world.  Lower oxygen levels, beyond simply causing difficulty in physical exertion, also takes its toll on brain power.  Combine that with freezing temperatures and the need to make quick, accurate decisions, makes attempting Mt. Everest without oxygen a monumental task.

I live in a place that is about a mile above sea level.  Right around 5000 feet.  When I first moved out here from Florida, I could barely climb stairs without gasping for breath.  It would be pretty interesting to find out how Mr. Messner trained for this.  How does one prepare to not breath and climb at the same time?

Anyway, any mountain climbers out there?  Share some stories, or make some up!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18

Nothing serious today, lets talk about cheap eating.  How many of you are in college?  I graduated a year ago, and looking back, I ate some weird stuff.  Of course we all have the ramen.  What kind of things did you put on it?  I never used the salt packer.  A dollar bottle of alfredo sauce will last quite a while.  Minute rice with some canned chili or something.  Looks like dog food, but takes decent enough.

Ok team, what kind of cheap meals do you enjoy?  I'm talking a dollar or less here!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 17

On this day in 1945, Indonesia declared independence from the Netherlands.  I don't know if any of you stop and think about how much the world changed in the 20th Century, but it really is amazing.  Let's just focus on our topic today though: colonization.  For half of that century, colonization was alive and well.  Vast expanses of land were ostensibly owned and run by many different foreign countries.  Just off the top of my head, France in northern Africa, the United States in the Pacific, and England just about everywhere.  What different ways of thinking must have these people had to think it was ok to to subjugate a people and steal their wealth.

This wasn't so long ago.  When I think colonies, I generally think the 1700's, the American colonies, the race for land in the Americas.  But even in our great-grandparents' time, in the 1940's, England held India as a colony.  In Africa, these were often violent, oppressive regimes.  These regimes shaped the futures of countless people.  And generally, not for the good.

Anyway, let's open this up.  What do you think was the biggest factor in the 20th Century?  Technology?  Cold War?  Colonization?  War?  Ace of Base?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16

I read an article today about the Starbucks CEO calling on other businesses to stop contributing to political campaigns and to start creating jobs.  Makes me think that either he, or Warren Buffett, is planning on running for office.  What is with these displays of public awareness and altruism that are suddenly in the news?  I like the ideal as much as the next guy, but is this anything more than publicity?

First off, when I think Starbucks, I don't think of a company that particularly cares about helping people.  $4 cups of coffee and dry muffins.  Secondly, why is it that my first instinct with Starbucks is, "put up or shut up" when my first instinct was just the opposite with Buffett?

I guess when it comes down to it, Buffett's stance makes perfect sense.  If this country collapses, his money is gone too.  Raising taxes, even on himself, is more of an investment in the long term.  Starbucks' stance however simply strikes me as a stunt.  They spend less on politics, they have less clout.  They hire more workers, they spend more money.  Where is the benefit, besides the publicity?

What do you guys think?  Am I being too cynical here?  Will other companies heed the call to spend more on employment and less on political campaigns?  Are you more or less likely to drink Starbucks after learning about this?  What is your favorite Starbucks drink?  Do you even like coffee?  What's wrong with you that you don't like coffee? 

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15

Today, noted businessman Warren Buffett declared that the government should raise taxes on the wealthy.  Some responded, Michelle Bachmann for example, with a call to put up or shut up.  I find this rather odd.  What good can a single billionaire do to our deficit and economy in general.  Buffett's net worth is around 50 billion.  Pretty similar to Bill Gates.  When our deficit  is in the trillions, what can he do alone that will help?

It seems odd to attack someone saying that he is not paying his fair share for this country.  No one donates to the United States.  Really, why would they?  America sells bonds that, while low in return, are far better than simply giving away money.

Perhaps Buffett isn't espousing this view for the good of the country or any degree of altruism.  So what?  He recognises that the country is spiraling out of control in debt.  At the very worst, he knows that his fortune is gone if the dollar becomes worthless.  An organized effort to raise taxes on the super rich might be the only thing that prevents total collapse in the future.

The danger that some people see is that these people are the job creators.  Raising taxes might push them elsewhere.  But the problem is that companies are sitting on record profits and not hiring.  The economic times cause them to clamp down their bank accounts.  It perpetuates the problem.

The debt ceiling debacle highlighted some very real problems in this country.  We are borrowing too much.  Very difficult cuts need to be made in spending to go hand in hand with tax increases.  Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world, realizes that in order to stabilize the country, taxes need to rise because the pattern of lowering taxes to increase employment is not working.

What do you think?  How would you balance this budget?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 14

I don't usually talk about politics.  Generally just starts fights.  I live in a very republican state.  I don't identify very well with either party.  Therefore, I often simply don't vote.  I did in the last presidential election, only because my sister worked on the Obama campaign and I wanted to tell her out I voted for McCain.  She almost had an aneurysm, and it was completely worth it.  It didn't really matter whom I voted for, my state's electoral votes were going republican, but I didn't let that fact get in the way of anything.

Why not vote?  The hope and change rhetoric rubbed me all the wrong ways and I don't know how I would feel about McCain taking orders from Palin.  Neither one seems superior to the other.  Who is to say how McCain and Palin would have handled this current economic climate, but its not like we are sitting pretty right now.

For those of you living under a rock, the Iowa straw poll was conducted recently.  Michelle Bachmann won by a thin margin.  Ron Paul second and some guy, who even now I can't remember, dropped out because he was in third.  I refuse to look up his name.  I wonder how much money he spent to simply bow out.  What a character.  He is who I would like to be president.  It is one thing to run for president and lose.  It is quite another to run and then quit at the first sign of trouble.  I wonder if he thinks he can try again sometime.  Opponent campaign ads basically write themselves.

So that leaves us with Bachmann (Palin-class scary), Ron Paul (a class all his own) and Mitt Romney (I'm not sure what to say about him).  Yeah, there are others, they mean nothing at this point.

Time for a gimmick Republicans.  You tried Palin, Mitt lost last time, I think its time you go for broke.  I want to see Rob Paul make it.  Do I think he can win?  Likely not.  But we would be in for a wild ride.

Also, I didn't spell check any of the names.  So there.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August 13

On this date in 1521, the Aztec Empire finally collapsed.  The fall of Tenochtitlán to the Spanish Conquistadors ended an empire and began the Spanish rise to power.  The end of the Spanish Empire was told in the previous post.

Instead of discussing the battles and the eventual fall of the Aztec, much of which is common knowledge, let us discuss the rise of this Empire.  It is not as well known that the Aztecs came from very humble beginnings.  They arrived in the Valley of Mexico somewhere around the 12th century.  Up until that point, they were poor, nomadic and generally dominated by neighboring tribes.  It was not until the founding of Tenochtitlán that the Aztecs began to consolidate any power.  Even this process was slow however.  For the next two hundred years, they relied mainly on alliances and treachery to maintain their political autonomy.  It was not until the 15th and 16th centuries that the Aztecs began to assert their will through military force.

The Aztecs were a force to be reckoned with in the Mexican peninsula, but only for a relatively short amount of time.  They came from humble beginnings, but rose quickly.  Far more quickly than they rose, however, they were extinguished.  The hundreds of years of clawing their way to a position of power were undone in just a couple years.  The Aztecs were unable to leave a legacy on the world.  Their grand city, Tenochtitlán, which boasted a population some two or three times as large as London, was raised and the people subjugated.

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 12

On this date in 1898, a peace treaty, called the Treaty of Paris, was signed between the United States and the Spanish formally ending the hostilities known as the Spanish-American war.  The origins of this war are dubious at best.  Tensions had been building between the belligerents due to reports of Spanish atrocities in Cuba and elsewhere, and finally exploded with the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor.  While no real evidence existed that implicated the Spanish in this alleged attack, popular option made compromise impossible.  The United States demanded that Spain abandon Cuba; a demand that was summarily rebuffed.  Madrid declared war, as did the United States.

What followed was a 10 week conflict that can hardly be called much of a war.  It was one sided on all fronts, in favor of the United States.  Superior numbers in most battles aided the United States.  In the end, Spain was ejected from many islands, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippians.

While the main issue was ostensibly Cuban freedom, it is difficult to accept this as the actual cause.  The results of the war are too in line with the Monroe Doctrine and the expansionist policies of the United States at the time.  Unconfirmed reports, coupled with an unconfirmed attack to create a situation where the predatory nature of the United States at that time could be sated.  Much like the Mexican-American War 50 years before, the United States saw this as an opportunity to expand their holdings against an ailing foe.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11

On this day in 1909, the liner Arapahoe, became the first ship to ever use the distress call S.O.S.  These letters, expressed in Morse Code, are three dots, three dashes and three dots.  The phrase was created during the International Radiotelegraphic Convention held in Berlin in 1906.  Contrary to popular belief, these letters do not express any particular words, but were simply determined to be easy to remember and transmit.

In the case of the Arapahoe, the ship had broken a propeller and was disabled while traveling north from Jacksonville, Florida.  Despite bad weather, the Captain of the Arapahoe gambled that the sister ship, Apache, should be in the vacinity.  He attempted to call the Apache wirelessly using the S.O.S. distress call.  The gamble paid off and the Arapahoe was rescued and taken to port.

In the United States, the distress call S.O.S. has fallen out of use.  While the meaning of the phrase is common knowledge, the Coast Guard no longer monitors Morse code transmissions.  Generally, satellite relays are used to transmit a distress call.  Another method is using radiotelephony to transmit MAY DAY.  So keep this in mind next time your ship is sinking!