The Redwoods

I just wrote a story called The Redwoods over on my fiction blog.  I normally don’t crosspost stories to this blog, especially ones I haven’t even edited or proofread thoroughly, but I just finished writing it, and…I think it’s really good, so if you’re interested, go read it.  :)

Re-Kindled

When I was younger, I loved to read, but I stopped reading after high school for some reason.  So, last month, I decided to buy a Kindle Touch in hopes that it would rekindle my love for reading (pun definitely intended).

The verdict is…I love it.  The eInk screen makes it super easy on the eyes.  It is exactly like reading a real, paper book.  I got the one with ads, and they’re completely non-obtrusive.  I was originally planning to pay the extra $40 and unsubscribe from the ads after I got it, but I don’t even care.  So far, I’ve read Steve Jobs, Ender’s Game, and I’m currently 40% through Snow Crash.

Ender’s Game is a classic, but for some reason, I’d never read it.  It was great – a well told story and a classic for a good reason.

Ever since 2005, I’ve followed Apple pretty closely.  In my Geography 1001 class at LSU, I spent most of the semester in class reading Wikipedia articles on Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Apple, Microsoft, Bill Gates, etc.  I’ve also seen Pirates of Silicon Valley a couple of times, and listened to countless interviews with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, so there wasn’t really a whole lot in Steve Jobs that was news to me, but it was still a good read.  One thing I don’t understand, though, is that so many people realized he was a jackass after he died.  I knew he was a jackass as soon as I started reading about him in like 2006.  I didn’t respect his personal life; I respected his professional life and the amazing things he’s brought to the world, like the computer I’m typing this on.  It is fascinating that so many genius-types like him are like that, though.

I own Snow Crash in paperback, and I tried reading it twice before.  Both times I got like 60 something pages in and then just…stopped for no good reason.  I’m already far past that in the eBook form, and it’s fantastic.  Neil Stephenson’s writing is spectacular.

 

Also about a month ago, there was a film crew right outside of the parking garage at work filming something.  I looked up what they were filming currently in Baton Rouge, and I forgot what it was, but they turned an empty building into “The Marcum Institute,” so if you see that in a movie or TV show sometime within the next year, I know where the building is. :P

 

Now, three random things and I’m done.

1) Check out these awesome Christmas cookie sandwiches I made.

 

2) Skrillex’s Bangarang EP is kickass.

3) COMMNT ON DIS POST IF U CRY EVRY TIM

Free Marketplaces

For those of you that don’t like my political opinion posts, skip this one.  :)

Yesterday, Gary Johnson officially left the Republican party and is now seeking the Libertarian nomination for president.  The Libertarian party has never had a popular, two-term governor running under their ticket.  Should be interesting.  Once again, if Ron Paul doesn’t get the Republican nomination, I’m completely ready to buy my Gary Johnson 2012 yard sign.

That’s not really what this is about though.  This is about how the marketplace works, and why it is my opinion that Democrats (and some Republicans) are flat out wrong when it comes to corporate regulations.

The other day, there was an article on reddit about the Italian government suing Apple because Apple only provides a 1 year warranty standard, and the Italian government apparently has a law that says companies must provide a 2 year warranty.  Of course, this got upvoted like crazy and it was suggested that the U.S. do the same.

That, however, just doesn’t make sense.  First of all, what right does our government have to tell a company how long they have to warrant a product?  Free marketplaces operate around the simple principal that you will support companies you like and avoid supporting companies you don’t like.  If you don’t like that you have to buy Apple Care to get a 3 year warranty, then don’t buy Apple’s products.  Vote with your wallet.  Period.  Why would you want to give a company your money if you fundamentally disagree with how they operate?  If the government steps in and forces them to warranty their products for longer than a year, they’ve learned nothing, they still get your money, and you’ll probably still end up paying the same amount of money that you would’ve paid for the product and the extended warranty.

Why?  If you force a company to include a 3 year warranty instead of giving the consumer the option to purchase an extended warranty, the company will certainly up their warranty and up the price of their product to cover the expense.  Tell me – why would you want to take away your own choice to pay more money for a product or not?  I would like to always have the option to not purchase the extended warranty, take that risk, and save money.  If it breaks after a year, then that was my mistake to make.  I don’t need the government to hold my hand when I spend my money.

Politics As Usual

Back in 2007, when Digg was still slightly relevant, was when I first started hearing about Ron Paul.  His name was plastered all over both Digg and reddit, and for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why these liberal communities were so obsessed with such a conservative fellow.  Mike Gravel I understood, Dennis Kucinich I understood, but this old, Republican OBGYN-turned-congressman – why?

I began researching him – clicking all of the stories about him on Digg and reddit, reading Wikipedia articles, watching videos of him speaking.  Suddenly, I understood.  The man was consistent.  He had integrity.  His actions were completely predictable.  In any given situation, you could find his viewpoint from that year, the year before that, and 1988, and it was always the same.  He didn’t accept money from anyone to sway his vote.

Furthermore, he had great ideas.  “Republicans should love this man,” I thought.  But as I watched the debates, it became suddenly apparent as Ron Paul got booed for speaking on factual information derived for the 9-11 commission’s report about the reasons we were attacked in 2001 (blowback for us being over there – not because the terrorists hate our freedom) that Republicans weren’t interested in a truly conservative candidate.  To make matters worse, his opponents that were front-runners were a man who is well-known for flip flopping (Romney) and another man that was basically another 4 years of George W. Bush that had actually lost to Bush for the Republican nomination in 2000 (McCain).

Boy, did the media try its best to ignore Dr. Paul.  They acted like he practically didn’t exist, even though every time there was a campaign event, the Ron Paul 2008 signs were front and center on camera surrounding the reporters, even though he constantly won straw polls, and even though he broke fundraising records and received the most monetary support from the U.S. military – I think more than all of the other candidates combined.

I knew Ron Paul wouldn’t win that election, but interestingly enough, his supporters were the most loyal and active supporters of any candidate’s.  McCain got the nomination, and slowly, though Digg basically died, the brainwashed drones of reddit finally realized that, though Dr. Paul was a man of integrity and consistency, he was still a Republican, and his support dropped on that site.  I have to laugh when I think about how sad it is that reddit loved this man until they suddenly started to think for themselves.  I imagine the thought process was “Wait a minute, I’m liberal.  I don’t actually agree with him at all.  I just liked him cause reddit liked him.”  But I still liked him, because, well, I’m not a liberal.  I’ve always self-identified as a conservative, and Ron Paul was my candidate.

A year or so after Obama was elected, a friend of mine turned me on to former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.  He was a two-term Republican governor from a state that was 2-1 democrat.  He was also a marathon contestant and scaled Mount Everest.  Quite impressive.  Even more impressive were his politics and ethics.  He was similar to Dr. Paul in consistency and also exactly the same in politics, except slightly more moderate/liberal on some social issues, such as LGBT rights and abortion.

I thought for sure that Dr. Paul wouldn’t run again for the 2012 election, so I planned to throw my support behind Gov. Johnson, and figured many other Paul supporters would do the same.  Gov. Johnson had even been a Paul-supporter in the 2008 election.  He was younger and even seemed more electable to me, but as the friend that turned me on to Gov. Johnson pointed out – those social issues would not help him garner support with the religious right, which I recently heard/read was about 60% of the Republican base.

Much to my surprise, though, Dr. Paul decided to run again.  I suddenly had visions in my head of a Paul/Johnson ticket.  That, to me, would be incredible.  These are the two guys I would trust my country with.

I was unsure, though, about how Gov. Johnson would gain support.  Over the years, Paul’s supporters and groups (Campaign for Liberty, Young Americans for Liberty) had apparently grown.  Paul’s support was much greater than it was last time around, and it seemed as though any support that would’ve gone to Johnson instead went to Paul.  That, in and of itself, is fine.  That’s how elections work.  But the media ignored Johnson, only inviting him to 2 of the very many Republican debates held thus far, even though his support rivaled or was greater than that of Rick Santorum’s or John Huntsman’s – except they were still invited to most of the debates.

The media still tried to ignore Dr. Paul in the meantime, and they mostly succeeded, but it was harder.  In 2007, Ron Paul placed 5th in the Ames straw poll.  In 2011, he placed 2nd, literally just shy of 1st.  3rd place wasn’t even close behind him.

Dr. Paul gets invited onto political talk shows, but is either asked about other candidates or is not taken seriously.  As of this writing, he’s polling 1 percentage point behind Newt Gingrich in Iowa, yet the current headline on Fox News features only pictures of Romney and Gingrich.  More than halfway down the page, we find this treat: “The other candidates still have a chance to break through. While the national polls show Gingrich and Romney at the top, the Iowa polls have Texas Rep. Ron Paul right up there on the leader board.”  No mention that he’s not only #2, but is polling comfortably ahead of Romney.

And that brings me to the point of this post.  Our country is not in disarray because of our politicians.  Our politicians are elected – by us.  It is our fault, as the people of the United States, for electing terrible and corrupt politicians.  Yet, here I sit, looking at polls that tell me that Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney will be my party’s nominee.

Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on many key conservative issues, many of which there are videos of.  Heck, I don’t even have to waste my time listing them all.  Just click on this link and refresh the page for a new one.

Newt Gingrich is a serial adulterer, yet criticized President Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky.  There is a huge list of things he has done at notonewt.com that paint him not only as an inadequate nominee, but could perhaps lead one to the conclusion that he’s not even a conservative.  Blatant disregard for the 10th amendment, lobbying, and an advocate of many big government ideas, such as a national ID and another federal agency to fight terrorism.

In short, my party has placed its hopes between a man whose own wife can barely trust him and a man who will probably change his mind on another issue before the campaign season is over.  Looking at the two of them, Romney is probably a better choice, but not by much.

This is sad and discouraging.  When Ron Paul speaks the truth, he is booed or written off as the crazy old grandpa.  Just recently, on the topic of Israel, he spoke about how the Israelis could defend themselves – about how we didn’t need to be over there policing the world.  Republicans act as though this is blasphemy, yet the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu said himself just months ago, “My friends, you don’t need to do nation building in Israel.  We’re already built.  You don’t need to export democracy to Israel.  We’ve already got it.  And you don’t need to send American troops to Israel – we defend ourselves.”  You’d never, ever guess that Israel doesn’t want or need our help if you only listen to the jibber-jabber of the Republican party.

And now, Gary Johnson, completely abandoned by the party he could’ve done so much good for, is considering a switch to the Libertarian party to continue his presidential run.

Is the truth really too much for America?  Are consistency, integrity, and respect for the Constitution not valued anymore by my party?

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Earlier this year, my party booed a gay soldier, cheered at the execution of 234 death row inmates, and one person in the audience of a debate even shouted out “yes!” when Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul if we should let someone without health insurance die in the case of a deadly medical emergency.  The others are hopefully obvious, but I don’t understand how the religious right can cheer the death penalty, which even Bill O’Reilly disagrees with.  Jesus Christ was wrongly crucified by that very law.  You’d think the religious people would care at least a little about that.

This is the state of politics.  In 2012, if I am faced with an Obama vs. Romney or Obama vs. Gingrich vote, I will be forced to do the only thing that is right: voting for the people I stand by.  If Ron Paul does not get the Republican nomination and Gary Johnson does indeed run as a Libertarian, I am voting for Gary Johnson.  It may be one, small, insignificant vote, and it may be considered a waste by some, but I just can’t bring myself to vote for Romney or Gingrich when there are people of integrity and sincerity in the race.

To the GOP and its members – if you continue to ignore Dr. Paul, shame on you.  Shame, shame, shame.  And shame on you for likely driving Gary Johnson out of his own party, and for ignoring him.

America, if you vote in Gingrich or Romney or Obama in 2012, nothing will change, and you will deserve whatever happens.  We, the people, vote in corruption.  We are given a choice, and we get what we vote for.  Whether Newt gets paid off by a corproation, or Mitt changes his mind about a campaign promise, or Obama involves the federal government in yet another place where it will only hurt the people, you will get what you voted for.

In 2012, we will be given the opportunity to elect an ideologically pure man of sound integrity and political beliefs.  Dr. Paul has a proven record.  He is the champion of liberty and of the Constitution.  He has never flip-flopped, never voted to raise taxes, never broke with the Constitution on an issue.  He believes in the importance of our individual liberties and in the importance of not sacrificing our freedoms for a false sense of security.  He is a proponent of sound money, and has proposed $1 trillion worth of cuts in his first year in office.  Ron Paul understands economics more than any other candidate – he’s written 6 books on the subject.  He understands that we can’t do nation building overseas when we’re broke and failing our own citizens here at home.  He is absolutely the only real fiscal conservative on the stage.

We were given this opportunity in 2008, and we failed.  America, don’t fail again.  Please.

Prank

About 2 months or so ago, I got a great idea for an office prank inspired by Jim Halpert (from “The Office”).  The problem was that it would take a long time to pull off to completion.

Of course, the person I would be pulling the prank on was Marcus T.

Unfortunately, I lacked the foresight to take a picture ahead of time, but I dug through old pictures and found this one.

See where the monitors are?

My plan was simple.  Every day I was going to move his monitors, phone, keyboard, and mouse over to the right about 1 inch.  Just enough to make progress, but not enough for him to notice.

Today, I have completed that prank.

He, until this point, has never mentioned anything about his monitors moving over.  They are as far to the right of his desk as they can possibly go.

The red line is how far I moved them.