24.1.09

The silence of the blog

Yes, I'm aware I have a blog.  Three, actually.  And one has next to nothing on it.  Yes, I'm aware that it's been an inordinately long time since I've posted anything.  Yes, I'm aware that I should probably change that.

But I'm too busy right now.  My life is pretty much school, work, and FIRST robotics in my spare time.  No time for blogging.  And this week is WCS's SIAW, which I've been asked to come back to lead the tech crew for.  That's an amazing honor, especially considering their typical policy on this. 

So, I'm not dead.  In fact, I've got a bunch of ideas running around in my head that are begging to be blogged about.  Some software stuff, some worldview stuff, and maybe a few other cool projects as well.  And, of course, FIRST Robotics and whatnot. 

But, right now I've got some code to write up. 

P.S. One thing: knockoff food companies have some of the most ridiculous product names ever.  Try ChipTastic cookies.  Or Cream Betweens.  And my all-time favorite: Mountain Holler Radical Citrus Thirst Blaster. 

9.1.09

"Free Inquiry" on "Separation of Church and State"

From the same page:

"Separation of church and state. The United States needs to adhere to the First Amendment. We call upon President Obama to rise above his campaign rhetoric on this issue and end public support for faith-based charities as a violation of the First Amendment."

I had no clue that this was that widespread of a misconception.  Anyone want to explain to me how supporting a 'faith-based charity' 'prohibits the free exercise of [religion]'?  I'd also like to see what organizations the government is supporting, and how they are doing that.  I suppose they have ground if they're supported in a tax law of some sort, although that's stretching the definition of 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion'. 

Unfortunately, most people just have a vague idea of what the First Amendment really says, and what it relates to.  And most of these vague ideas are influenced by people who are saying that 'separation of church and state' is in the Constitution.  If the blind lead the blind, will they not both fall into a ditch?

"Free Inquiry" on the religion of the US President

"Free Inquiry" is a publication by the Council for Secular Humanism.  I take the following excerpt from this webpage:

"The U.S. Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required” to hold “any office or public trust.” Yet surveys still show that a majority of Americans would not vote for an atheist candidate for president. Clearly there is more work to be done to realize a truly secular society."

What?  They are arguing that America is not secular enough--but why on earth did they need to put in that quote from the Constitution?  My first impression was that they were arguing that it is unconstitutional for the American people to elect a president based on his* religion.  It still seems to me that they are implying that. 

However, that argument is nonsensical.  The Constitution does not say what the American populace should use to determine their choice of a president.  It instead prevents presidential candidates from being legally disqualified based on religion.  Not that the American populace cannot or even should not chose a president based on religion.  That is not within the scope of the Constitution's power.

Maybe I'm just being picky or argumentative, but it does seem to me that if they weren't implying this, there would be no point in including the quote from the Constitution.  It just doesn't make sense. 

* Yes, I meant his.  Not his/hers.  Not h/i/er/s.  Those are superfluous and, besides, they're bad grammar. 

8.1.09

What is wrong with Microsoft's Live service

I signed up for Microsoft live to give me access to SkyDrive and to allow me to use MSN (because some people are that way...). 

But I decided to go ahead and set up my Live email account to be fetched from my Gmail account (which is a really nifty thing to do).  But, lo and behold, you can only use POP fetching on a Live *Plus* account.  Not a regular one.  So, I decided to have Live just forward my emails to my Gmail account.  However, apparently you can only forward emails to other Microsoft accounts, or custom domains. 

And this is what is wrong: there is no good reason for them to limit either of those.  I mean, name me one other free email account provider that doesn't allow you to use POP on your email.  Or forward your email to whomever you want.  Microsoft is intentionally crippling the Live service to make people want to pay for their Plus service, and to lock them into using other Microsoft accounts.  They want their business; but instead of giving them more business, most people are going to go look for something else that provides those features every email account has had for the last ten years for free. 

5.1.09

An amazing car audio player

I ran across this while browsing the net:

http://wps.com/projects/MP3-system/

This guy is amazing.  (Check out some of his other projects--they're pretty awesome as well.)  He has the idea behind a car audio player right.  No fancy buttons or anything; make something that does one thing, and does it well.  Well enough that you don't have to worry about looking to see what you're doing while you're driving.  The whole setup is worth looking at.