Ramblings Posts

Ramblings

Submitted For Your Consideration...

Looking back over the historical record, one thing becomes clear: it is what is tangible that has defined our view of history. We go back all the way to the pyramids and tombs of Egypt, and we can read the hieroglyphs on the walls. The edifices themselves tell us stories of their builders. The Greeks and Romans produced copious amounts of literate for us to consume, and their structures still stand as a testament to the collective genius of their civilizations. Is it possible, then, that we could be living in one of the worst documented times in human history? A time that future historians, thousands of years from now, will regard as a “dark period” because of a lack of any real record of the era? Let it be said that more literature is being produced than ever before. Mass printing has completely changed the dynamics; now, almost anyone can produce anything simplistically. Modern construction methods have rendered the craft of the ancient stonemasons simple in that what once took years to be built can now literally be built in a matter of weeks. Is any of this durable, though? Will it last? So much of what we do now is on computers - the irony of writing this warning on a digital journal does not escape me, by the way - and once something is wiped from the magnetic memory of a hard disk it is gone forever. There is no storing in clay jars for a hard disk. Lots of things are being produced these days, but will any of it last? What will historians two millennia from now have to say about us as a civilization - of course assuming humanity is around at all, and that we haven’t destroyed ourselves in nuclear war or massive climate change, or been wiped out my Thor’s Hammer. Always best to end on a high note.
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Ramblings

Supreme Court Ruling on Eminent Domain

Today, the Supreme Court ruled that governments can seize private property for private development. What the supreme court has effectively done is given the power to wealthy corporations and businesses to stomp all over individual families and competition. Let’s play a little exercise, shall we… Let’s say you own a farm. It’s farmland that’s been in your family since the 1800s. Your great-great-grandfather worked this land, and everyone in your family has worked it since. At one time, it was way, way out from the city but in the years urban growth has sprawled out closer and closer to your land. Along with sprawl has come subdivisions and shopping centers. Now, Wal-Mart has seen fit to build a super-center in town, and has chosen your land. Under this new ruling, Wal-Mart can tap-tap-tap on the shoulder of the city council and say, “Hey, we want that land over there, look at all the tax money we’re going to bring in” and the city council can kick you off your land using eminent domain provisions that were once reserved for building roads and schools, and give you whatever arbitrary amount they decide is “market value” for your property. Instead of forcing Wal-Mart to compete and pay true value for the land, they can now leverage the city government against you and get the land for fractions of what it is worth. This is one of the worst rulings I’ve ever seen come out of the Supreme Court and a complete kick in the balls to individual liberty in this country.
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Ramblings

The Terrorists Won

Ladies and gentleman, I humbly submit to you that the terrorists have won. We need to just go ahead and hand our country over to Osama bin Laden, because we’ve already given up and given the terrorists exactly what they want. And if you don’t know, I’ll spell it out for you: WE’RE AFRAID! You can see it in how we talk and in how we act. Nascar dads and soccer moms all over the country get their knickers in a twist every time the terror alert level goes from chartreuse to polka dot because WE’RE AFRAID the terrorists might attack suburbia. People buying plastic bags and packing survival kits like we’re at the height of the Cold War again. For God’s sake, people! I don’t think I realized how bad it had gotten until this week. See, when I was a kid and I first came to Huntsville and visited the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, there was a lot more to it than there is now. In addition to the museum (which is still hella cool) and all the rockets outside, they used to have a tour of the Marshall Spaceflight Center. They put you on a bus and drove you around to see the nuts and bolts of how the real NASA functions. You got to see the old rocket test stands where Saturn V engines were tested. You got to see the “world’s flattest floor” in a clean room which they used to train astronauts on maneuvering objects in space and on the lunar surface. You got to see real astronauts training in the real neutral buoyancy simulator (the big pool) learning how to work in space. You got to see pieces of the International Space Station being assembled. I remember all this because it made a HUGE impression on me as a kid. Seeing all the grand history of NASA and the bold, forward looking vision of all these geeky engineers convinced me that it was okay to accept my geekiness and be a nerd. After all, these people put a man on the moon. What had jocks and cool people accomplished that could come even close to that? For all their nerdiness, surrounded by the best technology America could come up with and given a near impossible mission and an unforgiving timetable, these people accomplished the single greatest feat in human history. Even today they were working in the background on amazing things, and I was seeing it all happen right before my eyes! I weep now. I truly do. I weep for the nerdy kid whose parents bring him to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center today. Why? Because when Sarah and I went up there on Tuesday, we discovered the awful truth: they no longer conduct tours of the Marshall Spaceflight Center! Hanging on the front of each computer monitor at the admission area were the little white surrender flags that you see seemingly everywhere now: “Due to the events of September 11, 2001, tours of the Marshall Spaceflight Center are no longer conducted.” It just saddens me so that this country is so utterly terrified of terrorists that we have to protect the world’s flattest floor and some old rocket test stands from that evil terrorist little Johnny the geek.
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Ramblings

My boy, we are pilgrims in an unholy land...

Well, I’m here. My cable doesn’t work, but fortunately, some kind soul has left their access point open for me to use! :P There’s a lot of work that’s going to need to be done in here to bring this place up to my standards, but it’s not bad. The drive up was mostly uneventful except for in Oak Grove when a semi tried to play chicken with me, and in Birmingham when traffic was pretty bad. Dad and Granddad got me unloaded in record time, then we went out and had pizza and beer before returning the truck a whole day early. Now. Where am I going to put all this stuff?
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