Month: July 2012

Currently Reading: The Dorr War: Treason, Rebellion & The Fight For Reform in Rhode Island

The book is by Rory Raven and the Kindle edition is only $9.99!

I’m only at location 220 out of 2156 but I found this quote and just had to share it. The quote is from former President of Brown University Francis Wayland (Hence, Wayland Square in Providence) around the time of 1834.

Wayland didn’t like immigrants. That much is certain. He’d probably hate my Italian-American ass, but here is what he said:

We ought to recollect that all the evils which may result from an extension of suffrage will be evils beyond our reach. We shall entail them upon our latest posterity without remedy. Open this door, and the whole frame and character of our institutions are changed forever.

Now go and listen to the arguments of the religious bigots of the 21st century and you get the uneasy feeling that this element of haters has been with us for a minimum of two centuries, and probably a hell of a lot more.

But we the people are winning. The religious arguments are looking more and more ridiculous as time rolls away from us.

This is why I love reading local history as well as other historical works. You glean so much of the zeitgeist of the time when you delve into the history.

Another interesting thing in the book resolves a quandary I’ve had for some time. A friend of ours believes that RI is still a royal property. I think I know where it comes from now.

You see in 1663 the State of Rhode Island, then a colony, received a charter from King Charles II. That charter stood until 1840. Recall I have mentioned before that RI was the last of the original thirteen colonies to approve the U.S. constitution. Well – we took our sweet time breaking away from the charter.

But make no mistake about it, the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations is part of the United States, not of the UK. And we have a rather proud history behind us. Which is all the more frustrating since we should be on the leading edge of freedom today. Sadly we are not.

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The Truth about Student Loans

Listen to this – I’ve been doing some research on them and I did find out that it’s only been since the late 70’s that lenders have been protected from people discharging student loans in bankruptcies.

But get this – they’ll sell your loan off to a company that will do remediation. That’s nice but they also whack you an 18.5% fee on top of the balance. So if you owed say $70,000 you’d get whacked with a $12,950 fee, bringing your balance to $82,950!

It reminds me of the prohibitions on interest present in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic texts.

In the Bible it’s Deuteronomy 15:1-7 —

Deuteronomy 15

15:1 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.
15:2 And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD’s release.
15:3 Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release;
15:4 Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:
15:5 Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day.
15:6 For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee. (15:7-8) Cited by Associated Baptist Press in defense of the Affordable Care Act.

(15:7) “If there be among you a poor man … thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother.”

I think the key areas here are 15:1-2 – every seven years there is a release that is God’s release. And when you think about it, U.S. Bankruptcy law is based on the Bible. So why aren’t student loan creditors?

If you read the entire seven verses you get the idea – there is to be forgiveness for debt. But by allowing the student loan industry to get away with this, we are violating Biblical principle.

Even though I’m not Christian or Muslim, there is some good, practical ways of doing things in the books. Our legislators would do well to look at the book from time to time.

Cars – which one to choose

So if I do get the job up in MA I was thinking that a 2.5 hour commute on public transit would only be cute for about 3 or 4 months. So I figured it out, I could sock enough away to get a decent used car in about 4 months.

So I’ve been looking at cars. I had wanted a 2004 Nissan Maxima but doing some research I discovered that 2004 was the first year they started making the Maxima here in the U.S. I also saw that complaints about transmission problems crop up starting in 2004.

So I decided to expand the search a bit. I started looking at Toyota Camry’s. They’re kind of pricey even used but just about every manufacturer has now stopped using timing belts, and Toyota is no exception.

However I’m not averse to say a 2003 Nissan Maxima, and if I could find one with the six speed manual transmission, worries solved, even after 2003. Standard transmissions are actually a fair bit simpler than automatics. Essentially you have your gear set and a synchro set – this allows you to easily switch gears by rotating the entire gearset at the same speed. It’s quite clever.

Then over the course of say 12 months I could sock enough away to buy a new Toyota Prius C. I definitely want something that gets a minimum of 30MPG highway, preferably 40MPG. And while I had once toyed with a Smart car – it’s not practical for my needs. Traveling in it would be painful.

But it’s not even just travel, a trip to the grocery store means only one person in the Smart, not bloody likely.

So not to put the cart before the horse but it does help to do ones research.

Carriers just don’t get it

I’m talking about Cox and Verizon in this one.

Last night I attended MoDev-RI (And upon reflection I believe it should be MobDev) and we had a hellish time getting Google’s Android SDK up to snuff on the computers there, and then to further irk us, those with the HTC Thunderbolt had issues. And to top it off, I found out that the Sparkfun Electric Sheep I won won’t work with my Samsung SCH-R910! I think Google really needs to get the act together – and get tighter control on what vendors and carriers can do to the Android distro on the phones.

For example, I had the Samsung SCH-R910 Indulge, Keyron has the LG Optimus. Both Android phones – but completely different UI’s. Maybe I’m fussy here but Microsoft and Apple didn’t get where they are by putting an OS out there and letting OEM’s and cellular providers muck with the user interface. A prime example, on my phone you swipe left/right. On Keyron’s it’s up/down. Bad move Google.

But this brings me to the point of this post. I note both Cox and Verizon offer watch instantly apps for IOS, but nothing for Android. Yet Android is moving up there. In fact if last nights group was any indication I saw but one iPhone yet the computers were majority MacBooks.

This not having it for Android has come up in the past. When the City of Providence rolled out the ProvConnex app it was only for IOS. I raised a small stink and suddenly there’s an Android version. Not to say that you can try to register for ProvConnex and get your credentials, only for the Android app to say it can’t log you in. Ut si!

It’s that human propensity to go for just good enough. I understand why Google let OEM’s and carriers fuck with Android, but it’s not going to serve them well. And Cox and Verizon both need to get their shit together and offer an Android watch instantly app too.

Because for the prices Cox and Verizon charge, just good enough isn’t going to fly.

Looks like Chick-Fil-A isn’t having a good week

With the recent revelation and admission by CEO Cathy at Chick-Fil-A that they were ‘guilty as charged’ in giving money to anti-LGBT groups, the backlash has been pretty severe.

Two cities have now told Chick-Fil-A that they are Corporata Non Grata. Boston Mayor Menino has told the company he’ll block any new openings in the Boston area. And now in Chicago, Alderman Moreno has also moved to block Chick-Fil-A there.

And it is exploding all around facebook and the blogsphere. A lot of corporate America once had anti-gay attitudes, until such time the LGBT community and many of their hetero friends decided enough was enough.

Recall Target? Yeah – that was a turnaround. Even here in RI a local donut hawker backpedaled away from a NOM event.

Bigotry is not good business sense. The only thing you should be concerned with is if the money is at least partially green. Anything beyond that should not concern you.

And even if you are a bigot running a company, keep it to yourself. Else you’ll end up like Chick-Fil-A – a footnote in fast food.

In fact there are no Chick-Fil-A’s here in RI, and only one in Burlington, MA. So I guess they aren’t welcome here. We’re saturated with Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and Burger Kings anyhow. And even McDonald’s has a better chicken sandwich than Chick-Fil-A.

Now I’ve heard a lot of people jump to the defense of the franchisees. But the way Chick-Fil-A works is that it takes only $5,000 to buy a franchise and then you forward half the profit over to corporate.

I have no sympathy for the franchisees. If you can’t take the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen.

And here’s to hoping the ridiculously named Chick-Fil-A disappears sooner than later.

TV Repair Update

So I replaced the three 1000uf 35V 105C capacitors. Got those and a new multimeter – this one has capabilities beyond my cheapie Radio Shack and cost me a total of $16. But the tv still won’t power on.

I did test the caps – the new meter has a nifty little capacitor check. And the ones I took out did fail – the new ones were fine.

This is perplexing – so I’ve started tracing out the power supply circuitry. It’s a slow, laborious thing to do but it will give me a better understanding where the problem lay. If by chance I complete the trace and find no issues on the power supply board then it’s increasingly looking like the controller board took a hit.

But here’s the kicker – I can replace the electronics, power supply, sink switch board, and cpu – for $150. These are complete boards. I might just do that. Or I can go without a television for a few months. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. Return the cable box and unsubscribe video services. That over three months will be $270 saved. I can get a new Toshiba 40″ 1080P LCD for $350 – that seems like the better option. Then I can drag the old TV into the lab and tear it down. Who knows, may even get it running again.

And I have to look at it from the perspective that my time is valuable. It’s rapidly moving into costing way more than $150 to fix this. So I think the decision is made. Just get another one!

The Oatmeal: How Not to Suck at your Religion

Just go read the series here, I’ll pick out my favorite images and comment.

Here’s how I’d handle it. I’d explain that once you die, your body begins to decompose. It decomposes because those formerly helpful flora in your gut decide to start eating you.

Once that starts there are all sorts of interesting gases that get created that attract insects and vermin. They’ll munch on the flesh remaining on the outside for as long as it takes to strip your skin, fat and muscle, then your internal organs which by now are bloated.

Eventually your viscera will liquify and all that will be left is the calcified skeleton.

To sum it up, you rot, or fester as the case may be. Until such time that all that’s left is bones.

All because of fauna, flora, and insectoid.

Aren’t you glad you know that now? It’s why embalming drains out the fluids, and stuffs the body full of preservative in the form of formaldehyde.

It delays the eventual festering. And your body is placed into a hermetically sealed casket and then lowered into a concrete vault. So chances are the only bacterial flora left will have to devour you over a longer period of time, with no fresh oxygen. Fun!