Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
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    Friday, February 29, 2008

    Implantable Tech

    Here's a slightly creepy bit of technology: a tattoo-like implantable display that runs on the user's (wearer's?) blood, apparently by breaking down sugars and such.

    The commercial uses are obviously endless, and it's probably only a matter of time before they manage to do it in color instead of just black-and-white. The idea that it runs on blood seems a little ghoulish, but it's also highly innovative... the human body generates much more energy than we actually use, and it's about time we started harnessing that energy. Apparently, that group who did the knee-powered generator thought the same thing.

    What really intrigues me about this display, however, is not what it does, but what it represents. Thus far, implantable devices have really only been used for two things: some sort of medical reason (like a pacemaker or diabetes monitor), or completely for decorative reasons (breast implants, body piercing). This device represents the genesis of implantable devices for purposes of simple utility.

    The possibilities are endless, not just in the manner of having a cool display for your cell phone. Imagine having the entire phone implanted -- you'd never lose your phone again. Or, taking a page from William Gibson and those who followed in his wake, what about implantable sunglass lenses? For that matter, telescopic lenses? Or metallic fingernails that would never break? We've already got bone-conduction assistive devices for the hearing-impaired, what about super-hearing for those who hear just fine? If you're the type who has a tendency to engage in fisticuffs, why not some nice steel plating on the ol' knuckles? Or how about some simple tool implants, along the lines of a Leatherman multi-tool that you never forget to take with you?

    I'm not saying I'd be first in line for some of this gear. I'm just saying that, like every normal guy in my generation, I think it'd be wicked sweet to have me some Wolverine claws.

    Posted by Tom, 2/29/2008 5:54:08 PM (Permalink). 2 Comments. Leave a comment...

    21st Century Hospitality

    It used to be that hosts offered their guests a place to sit, perhaps something to drink, and some pleasant conversation. But the latest in hospitality, from my perspective, is Wi-Fi access. Everywhere I go, the first thing I want to know is what the internet options are. Usually it's some form of wireless network in the location where I'm staying, even if only for a few hours. Such networks are usually protected by access keys, and as one travels, a list of networks with their associated keys grows in the wifi connection manager of one's laptop.

    On my recent trip to Ohio, I collected access keys from my brother, parents, aunt, and my brother's in-laws. It was really cool to see my dad finally have the wireless setup, instead of having to plug into his phone line and try to wrangle his login info out of him. The funniest one was when I walked into my brother's sister-in-law's place, and her fiance upon seeing my laptop bag immediately ran and got me a piece of paper with their access key. I didn't even have to ask.

    My father's provider, who set up his wireless router, had the really cool idea of just using a telephone number for the access key, to make it easy to remember. After all, it's nominally just as random as any other 10-digit sequence, from the perspective of an anonymous snoop.

    Now I'm finding that hotspots are popping up all over the place. I'm writing this entry from the waiting room of my doctor's office, and it's the second waiting room in which I've found wifi access.

    In Australia, wifi is really difficult to find, but there were internet kiosks all over the place. For a buck or two, you could get 20 minutes of time on the internet to take care of whatever you needed to do. This is much cheaper and more convenient than the way pay-to-play internet has been handled in American airports, where it typically costs $9 - $13 for 24 hours of access, with no option to purchase smaller slices of time. Who needs 24 hours of access at an airport? The longest layover I've ever had was only 4 hours, and it really ticked me off that I couldn't spend half as much to get a time slice that made more sense for me.

    Outside the airports, however, wifi is generally free to use in America, and I'm hopeful that this becomes the new de-facto standard of hospitality all across the country. It's really handy for remote workers like me who need to take care of business when they're out and about, and there's just something really cool about being able to log in anywhere.

    Posted by Tom, 2/29/2008 8:26:20 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Quote of the Day

    I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.
    -- Booker T. Washington

    Posted by Tom, 2/26/2008 7:35:02 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    It's a creepy song...

    ...and I don't know why I like it.

    But I do.

    True story: I once stayed awake while driving long-distance, alone, by screaming this song at the top of my lungs, over and over and over again.

    Posted by Tom, 2/25/2008 6:23:47 AM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    Self Esteem

    Lately it seems I've run across quite a few articles and forum posts discussing the whole "self-esteem" issue in education. Since it's one of my favorite things to gripe about, I thought I'd pop off about a couple of things that really got my goat.

    The first is a point/counterpoint article on the topic of whether or not it is possible to "teach people to be happy". It's from the UK, so we already know it's going to be skewed in favor of liberal nonsense, but I took a look anyway.

    On the side of "yes, we can teach happiness", our man is Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington college. He had this to say by way of exposition:

    Schooling at present is driven by three forces: the government, universities and employers.

    The government wants to show, year on year, a quantifiable improvement in results that will show it is "doing a good job for education". It has little incentive to concern itself with holistic and non-measurable aspects of learning.

    Universities want to have the brightest possible pupils in their departments. Some take into account wider achievement. But, overwhelmingly, universities are concerned with GCSE and A-level results. This does not encourage schools or pupils to want to broaden out.

    As for employers, I am not certain I understand what they want.

    Full stop. This guy, the top dog at an institution whose putative mission is to prepare students to eventually enter the workplace, has no idea what the workplace might actually want from them. My first question is whether Mr. Seldon has ever actually worked in the "outside world", or whether he is yet another of a disturbing number of people whose apron strings were only relocated from one socialist framework (the family) to another (the education industry). Given that my attitude is that you should be made to work 5 years in private industry before you're allowed to live on the taxpayer's dime, my question would likely be regarded as impertinent by the eminent Mr. Seldon, but it's something worth asking.

    Simply put, employers want people who are competent, responsible, dependable, and able to do the work they are assigned. What is so difficult about understanding this... more to the point, is there anyone who has worked in private industry who doesn't understand this? Is there anyone who never left the cozy creche of socially funded institutions who does?

    Moving on, he pontificates about how wonderful his institution's approach really is for the little tykes:

    Why should we teach children how to live and how to be happy? Three reasons. First, if schools do not, children may never learn elsewhere. Second, depression, self-harming and anxiety among students are reaching epidemic proportions. So are drinking and drug-taking. Teaching schoolchildren how to live autonomous lives increases the chances of avoiding depression, mental illness and dependency when they are older.

    Two things... first, he simply asserts without any backup that depression, etc. are reaching epidemic proportions. Personally, I don't know if that's the case, and would put at least even money on the possibility that depression and such among children has been relatively stable for a good long time in first-world nations. However, even if we take his assertion at face value, it would seem that the increase in depression has coincided with the increased focus of educational institutions on "self-esteem" as opposed to objective achievement. It may therefore be possible that the very thing he advocates is causing the negative repercussions he claims to be trying to fight.

    Second, he talks about teaching schoolchildren to live autonomous lives, but that is a bald-faced lie. Modern education is as anti-autonomous as it can get. Children are taught to be little collectivists from day one, and that never changes. The really scary ones are those I've met as adults who never took the time to re-examine the things they've been taught, and are now promoting collectivism to the next generation -- curiously enough, these are also largely the types of folks who never left the education establishment. The machine feeds itself first.

    As if to support my point, Mr. Seldon spends the next couple paragraphs talking about how they teach "autonomy" by reinforcing the students' sense of their relationship to everything and everyone around them:

    But what should one teach? The emphasis is on relationships.

    He goes on, but I'm sick of him already.

    Responding in the negative, Frank Furedi (professor of sociology at University of Kent) begins:

    In recent years, officials and educational experts have sought to solve the problems afflicting learning environments through behaviour management. Increasingly, the focus is on students' "wellbeing", "emotional literacy" and "self-esteem". Since this reorientation, the ambitions of therapeutic education have gone from strength to strength. Yet there is no evidence that it works.

    Indeed, it is now being seen to destroy the ability to cope with a world that doesn't really care about one's feelings. Another article demonstrates this rather well.

    Advertising executive Owen Hannay, for one, has placed a moratorium on hiring people fresh out of college unless they've done a work-related internship or have an advanced degree.

    That's quite a shift for the 45-year-old principal of Slingshot LLC, whose Dallas agency is known for its leading-edge marketing.

    It's not that millennials lack the creative genius or technological know-how that he's looking for. Far from it, he says. It's more that they lack the real-world grounding it takes to deal with responsibility, accountability and setbacks.

    As we read on, Mr. Hannay attends a workshop for employers to help them figure out what the hell is wrong with these kids today. Cathie Looney, a generational expert, explains:

    "They've been overparented, overindulged and overprotected," she says. "They haven't experienced that much failure, frustration, pain. We were so obsessed with protecting and promoting their self-esteem that they crumble like cookies when they discover the world doesn't revolve around them. They get into the real world and they're shocked.

    "You have to be very careful in how you talk to them because they take everything as criticism."


    ...parents of millennials also turned into agents who worried about building self-esteem. Unfortunately, such coddling can lead to workplace meltdowns, Ms. Looney says. "Healthy, resilient people learn life skills from failure and frustration.

    "These are kids who have a bunch of participation awards. They think they should be rewarded for showing up at work. You have to say, 'No, no darlin'. You're paid to show up. But you have to do a good job to get a raise.' "

    Hey, great job, Mr. Seldon! By actively working against objective measurements and seeking only to build "self-esteem" and a sense of well-being in your students, you've turned them into hapless feebs who can't take the mildest rebuke. They're emotional basket cases who don't know what it's like to lose, and think that showing up for work is reason to be applauded.

    We are not doing our children any favors by telling them they're excellent just because they draw breath. Yes, we should love them for who they are, and we should take joy from their very existence. But that is not the same thing. Love should be given freely and generously, but excellence has to be earned, by assiduous effort at some endeavor which offers the opportunity for continuous improvement. Tiger Woods did not become the world's greatest golfer by getting a bunch of participation awards. He practiced his butt off. When the other kids were off playing video games, he was chipping and putting and driving, over and over and over again, constantly striving for perfection.

    Nothing worth doing or having is the product of merely showing up. Showing up is only the beginning, and a participation award recognizes exactly nothing other than the fact that you've showed up. The really worthwhile things come from trying, failing, evaluating, and trying again and again until you succeed. THAT process produces something far more valuable than this stupid "self-esteem" we keep hearing about. It produces self-respect. As the late, great, Jeff Cooper once wrote:

    These people value "self-esteem" as anyone's individual prerogative, rather than "self-respect," which must be earned; and self-respect is by definition not something which may be granted by other people. Self-respect, like happiness, is a by-product of accomplishment, and accomplishment is available to all in some line of endeavor. But accomplishment does not come without effort, and the person who gives up because the struggle is hard deserves neither achievement nor happiness.

    Is it hard to watch your child try and fail? I have no children, but I can't imagine that it's any picnic. Any good parent wants their child to succeed. But handing them victory, or the illusion thereof, robs them of important life lessons that will eventually serve them in the "real world". Dave Ramsey calls failures "teachable moments", and that is exactly what they are. It might feel good to hand over the false victory now, but imagine the feeling when the child gets the real one under their own power, if you'll only sit back and let them.

    Posted by Tom, 2/22/2008 5:52:37 PM (Permalink). 6 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Attack of the Cute

    This is what I've got from the trip to Ohio that's good for posting, and it's really about time I stopped playing scrapbook and got back to griping about government and other idiots. But I will inflict one more round on my readers (all 5 of you).

    I'll lead off with one of my most favorite pics from the trip, just because I think it's kind of beautiful: Oliver and his mom in a peaceful moment...

    Oliver got to hang out with a bunch of distant (in terms of mileage) relatives, including Uncle Bo, whose facial hair was deemed fascinating.

    "You seem to have something stuck on your face... mom usually wipes mine off when it gets that way."

    My parents have a shallow cardboard box in the living room for the cat to lie in. Oliver was completely entranced by it. He climbed all over it:

    ...then he discovered that he could sit in it and go for a ride if someone else would pull it for him...

    ...but he really wasn't happy unless you pulled it fast enough to knock him off balance.

    One of the traditions in our family is for kids to get their own cake on their first birthday, that they may smash it all to crap. However, Oliver was somewhat intimidated by the semicircle of over a half-dozen cameras, flashbulbs madly popping, attempting to capture the magic moment. As a result, he mostly just nibbled away at his cake.

    So his mom decided the audience needed a show, and proceeded to start a food fight with dad.

    All through the incident (which got much, MUCH messier), Oliver just kept calmly scooping little handfuls of cake into his mouth, oblivious to the carnage.

    Finally, my favorite pic from the trip, but only because it has me in it. I'm vain that way:

    That's all, folks. I promise to go back to contemplating the inadequacies of world leaders and the ridiculousness of modern culture now.

    Posted by Tom, 2/22/2008 7:20:25 AM (Permalink). 3 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be computer geeks...

    ...cuz this is what they'll spend all their time doing when they visit family:

    That's me, playing with the computer while everyone else socializes. I just can't help myself. Anybody know a good shrink? Oh wait, I'm related to one.

    Posted by Tom, 2/22/2008 6:54:39 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    The McCoy Kids

    Our trip to Ohio coincided with an event much like the planets aligning, or a solar eclipse, or the passage of a comet: all 6 of the McCoy kids (my mother's generation) in the same room together. 4 is not that rare, but since Sharon and Terry live in Georgia and Florida, respectively, getting their travel plans to coincide with each other at a time when one of the 4 in Ohio isn't on vacation elsewhere can be a trick. Master photographer Jimbabwe captured the moment (clicky-pops):

    Back row: Jack, Terry, Karen, Bo
    Front row: Debbie, Gramps, Grandma, Sharon

    Chronological: Sharon, Karen, Terry, Jack, Debbie, Bo

    Posted by Tom, 2/19/2008 7:54:09 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    O-Dawg at Hardee's

    We just returned from our epic journey to Ohio, with a stopover in St. Louis to pick up/drop off the bro, his wife, and their progeny. On the way out, we drove straight through the night, hoping that O-Dawg would sleep for the whole trip (he did!) and only stopped when he decided it was time for breakfast, about 30 minutes shy of our destination. Seeing a conveniently located Hardee's at an easy-on, easy-off exit, we pulled over.

    The pics aren't great because my camera phone is crummy, but they capture the little guy's personality decently enough:

    Help! The giant baby is gonna eat me!!!

    He thinks Uncle Tom is funny-lookin'.

    He spent a lot of time eyeballin' me while he ate.

    He's all smiles, all the time. Except when he's not. The trip messed up his schedule a bit, so we had some Mr. Crankypants episodes, but most of the time he was as you see him here.

    Posted by Tom, 2/19/2008 7:43:39 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, February 18, 2008


    I just stumbled across this blog, read a bunch of entries, and was in tears from laughing at it:

    Stuff White People Like

    I can't believe how many of the posts remind me of my brother or some other urban hipster I know.

    Posted by Tom, 2/18/2008 8:33:20 AM (Permalink). 4 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Sunday, February 17, 2008


    I just finished reading Michael Crichton's book Next, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Crichton's genre is typically described as "techno-thriller", but Next is more of an exploration of the legal ramifications of genetic and biotechnology research, specifically with regard to the idea of gene patenting. In the broader context of human rights, it echoes the gripes I and many others have with laws regarding property rights and the human body. Granted, I am rather obstinate in my appraisal of these property rights, but those who would prefer to gloss over them would do well to read Next.

    Specifically, Crichton looks at the state of the laws surrounding biotechnology, especially gene therapies, and asks where those laws are leading us; "what's Next?" He draws a disturbing picture of people whose genetic sequences are owned by corporations. He furthers the picture by exploring what might happen if such a corporation were to find itself needing to replenish its stock of said genes or cell cultures, and believed they could make a case out of the idea that those people born with the genes in question were in possession of stolen property. And just to be truly creepy, he throws in the spectre of transgenic human-animal hybrids, an idea which honestly made my skin crawl. I don't think I'm horrified by the idea of such beings so much as the knowledge of the atrocities we have historically inflicted on those we consider "sub-human".

    I don't know if Next counts as great literature, but it is extraordinarily thought-provoking, and we would do well to consider the problems he proposes. It's not that I think we'll be seeing his human/monkey or human/parrot hybrids any time soon, but the issues regarding our ownership of our bodies are right here and now. These issues will only get worse the longer we allow government to fumble along in its present course regarding gene patenting (and dare I say, organ donation).

    Crichton ends the book with an epilogue directly addressing the reader, which basically summarizes the arguments he has dramatized in the book. As for the story itself, the number of characters can be rather unwieldy at times, and I often found myself confused in the first half. For that, I'll ding it a little, but I was so thoroughly engaged in the issues at hand that I still give the book 8 out of 10.

    Posted by Tom, 2/17/2008 8:57:26 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Part of the problem

    I spend a lot of time griping about government, especially Congress. Sometimes I wonder if I'm going a bit overboard. But then I see crap like this...

    With several federal law enforcement agents in attendance, [Committee Chairman Rep. Henry A.] Waxman brought the gavel down on the hearing more than 4 1/2 hours after it began. The committee chairman made a closing remark that noted Pettitte and former Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch had "confirmed" what McNamee had said in the Mitchell report.

    It really seems to me that "professional baseball" and "Congress" should not be in the same story together unless it's a puff piece about some Congressman going to a game. The fact that Congress is wasting time with hearings and investigations on professional sports just boggles my mind. I'm told by all the pro-government folks that we need these people to "run the country". Our taxes pay their salaries because they're doing the "important work of governing". Apparently this means wasting thousands of dollars on "investigating" professional sports, poking their noses into matters that are at best the equivalent of someone drinking on the job. Since when did professional baseball's commitment to a "drug-free workplace" become a federal matter?

    I'm a software engineer. Using the same standards Congress does in my employment, my boss should be paying me to spend all day on the PlayStation. Is it any wonder that Congress is so contemptible?

    Posted by Tom, 2/13/2008 5:22:44 PM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Let off with a warning

    Well, it seems that yesterday's mishap may not have been as bad as previously thought. My back feels right as rain this morning. I don't have any big lifts scheduled for today, and I'm going on a trip to Ohio for the next 6 days, so it should get plenty of rest. Maybe I won't have to go quite as low when I restart next week.

    I'd like to think it's over quickly because I'm that much stronger, but in truth I probably just got lucky. The good thing is, the lesson will be fresh in my head next time I squat.

    Posted by Tom, 2/13/2008 6:58:53 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    How to be a Doors fan

    This is one of the best pieces of sketch comedy ever, from the Kids in the Hall:

    Into The Doors

    Add to My Profile | More Videos

    I love how succinctly it captures the nature of dealing with fanboys, the social pressures surrounding how to be "cool", and the peculiar personalities of small-time, independent specialty store owners.

    Posted by Tom, 2/12/2008 5:47:35 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Nothing sucks like a bad squat

    This is the 4th time it's happened... I work my way up, make a few new personal bests, get all excited and enthusiastic, then mess it up. I'm pumped about the new weight I'm working with, stop paying attention, lose my form, and *SNAP* the back is out of whack.

    Back to the low weights... another long climb from the bottom. Maybe THIS time I'll stay focused.


    Posted by Tom, 2/12/2008 7:23:36 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, February 8, 2008

    Guitar Zero

    I've never seen the appeal of the Guitar Hero games. The reason for their extreme popularity simply escapes me. I just don't get why playing on a Fisher Price-style guitar "thingie" is such a rush for fans.

    On the other hand... this game/application looks like something I could totally get into:

    The cool thing about Guitar Rising is that it isn't a simple videogame, but combines the fun of playing and beating scores to actually teach you how to play the real thing. While they "are in the process of licensing popular rock songs, and we'll announce them on our website as soon as we finalize the deals," there will be different songs for different levels of difficulty to ease the learning curve, as well as different speed settings, so you can start slow and progress until you master the song at real speed.

    Learn to play for real, while playing a video game? Sign me up. Of course, the cost of a real guitar is likely to keep me from actually doing it (I have too many hobbies as it is), but this is really really cool.

    Posted by Tom, 2/8/2008 5:56:20 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Go Tester!

    I knew there was a reason I liked this guy:

    Montana's Congressional delegation is backing gun owners, in a landmark Supreme Court case over the District of Columbia ban on handguns.


    "This unwavering protection of the second amendment isn't just about having more guns than we need and not as many as we want," said [Montana Senator Jon] Tester in a prepared statement, "And it's not just about our heritage, our traditions and our families. It's about rights guaranteed in the Constitution."

    Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester are among nine Senate Democrats who signed the brief.

    Audio of his statement here.

    Of course, the other part of the article makes me a just a little mad:

    55 senators and 250 representatives have signed a brief, that urges the court to strike down the ban.

    They want the court to rule the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to own guns for their protection.

    Um... correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that a majority of Congress? If that's the case, why don't they get off their butts and start doing something more... I dunno... proactive? Like reining in the ATF? Reversing some laws that are clearly antagonistic to the idea of "owning guns for protection"?

    Too obvious? Too practical? Maybe it's just me.

    Posted by Tom, 2/8/2008 7:16:11 AM (Permalink). 2 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Once again...

    ...another mass shooting, another "gun-free" zone. This guy has already pretty much covered the whole deal, so he can take it from here:

    KIRKWOOD, Mo. -- A gunman opened fire at a city council meeting in this St. Louis suburb Thursday night, hitting the mayor and several city officials, a newspaper reported. There are reports that six people, including two police officers, have been killed.


    From the City of Kirkwood's PERSONNEL RULES AND REGULATIONS:


    The City of Kirkwood...has taken steps to help prevent incidents of violence from occurring at the City... The City also will not condone any acts or threats of violence against the City’s employees, customers or visitors on the City’s premises at any time


    ...The City intends to use all reasonable legal, managerial, administrative and disciplinary procedures to secure the workplace from violence ...


    4. To prohibit employees, former employees, customers and visitors from bringing unauthorized firearms or other weapons onto the City’s premises; and

    5. To establish a procedure for reporting a complaint of workplace violence and investigating any complaint of workplace violence.

    Apparently they forgot the part where it's hard to file complaints if you're dead.

    Posted by Tom, 2/8/2008 7:09:40 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, February 7, 2008

    O-Dawg in the Mornin

    Posted by Tom, 2/7/2008 4:37:59 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    Quote of the Day

    The problem isn't too much money in politics; it's too much power in government.
    -- Chip Mellor, founder, Institute for Justice

    Seemed appropriate, given that today is "Super Tuesday", and we're hearing that John McCain is violating his own campaign reform laws.

    Posted by Tom, 2/5/2008 6:34:37 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Saturday, February 2, 2008

    One of these things is not like the others

    (click for embiggenation)

    I get my shot vials mailed to me in little boxes. When taking shots at the doctor's office, I have to take a pair of vials in with me so that they can inject them. When I inject at home, I just grab the next pair out of the currently open box.

    Right now, I have a couple months' supply of them because I fell behind back in November and December. I just opened a new box last night, the box on the left. I noticed the strange coloration of the left arm serum, but didn't think much of it. All of my vials, for the last couple years, have looked like the ones on the right. Perhaps I should have questioned it more.

    After last night's festivities, I think that either (A) the left vials in the left box are bad or spoiled or something, or (B) they're the wrong stuff. Of course, I'll be following this up with the doctor on Monday, and yes, it was my left arm that had the bad itchy reaction and all.

    This do-it-yourself medicine is fun stuff, ain't it?

    Posted by Tom, 2/2/2008 6:23:51 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, February 1, 2008

    So that's what it feels like

    Had my first experience with anaphylaxis tonight. Took my allergy shot around 7:15. Around 7:50, started noticing that it was getting hard to breathe. Grabbed my inhaler, took a couple hits off it. Then my arm and face started itching. And my eyes -- distinctly from my face. Took a loratadine tablet, sent the wife for Benadryl, found my Epi-pen. Called the doctor.

    The on-call doctor said to take the Benadryl and go ahead with the Epi-pen. The idea of stabbing myself with the pen proved too great... I kept chickening out. Just when I'd get ready to commence the stabbin', I'd get a surge of adrenaline or something, and feel better for a bit. That would convince me that I was getting over it, and I didn't take it.

    The inhaler made the throat tightness go away, and I could breathe normally through my mouth. My nose was swelling shut, and it had a burning itch that felt a lot like a head cold. Then the chest pains started. Again with the Epi-pen... again with the surge... again with the feel better... again with the chicken. This went on for half an hour or so. God I'm such a wuss.

    After about an hour, the Benadryl hit full-bore, and now everything's cleared up, except for that nasty drugged feeling that Benadryl gives me. The doctor called back after I was about 15 minutes without symptoms. He said it sounds like I'm out of the woods, but to keep taking antihistamines all weekend and call the office on Monday.

    Well, that was unpleasant. Time to go relax and try to take my mind off it.

    Posted by Tom, 2/1/2008 9:45:43 PM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Blu-Ray winning the format war

    This according to the Gartner Group.

    Gartner analyst Hiroyuki Shimizu believes that the recent price cuts of the HD DVD camp are a desperate move to compete against Blu-ray and will end up to be “useless resistance”. By the end of 2008, Shimizu wrote in a research note today, Blu-ray will have won the format war.

    It certainly seems as though things are headed that way.

    Posted by Tom, 2/1/2008 6:45:14 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Let's all hate fat people

    That's essentially what Mississippi Representative Mayhall's recent bill is looking to kick off: a giant fat-hating campaign of discrimination and second-class citizenship. Bill text:


    2008 Regular Session

    To: Public Health and Human Services; Judiciary B

    By: Representative Mayhall, Read, Shows
    House Bill 282



    SECTION 1. (1) The provisions of this section shall apply to any food establishment that is required to obtain a permit from the State Department of Health under Section 41-3-15(4)(f), that operates primarily in an enclosed facility and that has five (5) or more seats for customers.

    (2) Any food establishment to which this section applies shall not be allowed to serve food to any person who is obese, based on criteria prescribed by the State Department of Health after consultation with the Mississippi Council on Obesity Prevention and Management established under Section 41-101-1 or its successor. The State Department of Health shall prepare written materials that describe and explain the criteria for determining whether a person is obese, and shall provide those materials to all food establishments to which this section applies. A food establishment shall be entitled to rely on the criteria for obesity in those written materials when determining whether or not it is allowed to serve food to any person.

    (3) The State Department of Health shall monitor the food establishments to which this section applies for compliance with the provisions of this section, and may revoke the permit of any food establishment that repeatedly violates the provisions of this section.

    SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2008.

    There is no due consideration given for restaurants with healthy eating options, or the fat guy that's actually dieting and just wants a salad or some lean protein. Not a thought is spared for transitional states, like the person who weighs 250 but used to be 400 and is still losing. And of course Rep. Mayhall doesn't tax his brain with anything resembling a thought concerning individual freedom to look and be as you choose, even if it's unhealthy for you. Nope, if you're fat, you're not allowed in our restaurants any more. What's next, separate drinking fountains? School segregation? After all, we've heard the report about how obesity is contagious, right?

    Of course, the defense will be "we're doing it for your own good", as though government is supposed to be our parent or something. The main problem is that this line of reasoning leaves out the greatest good that legislators could do for us: walk out of their office, cross the street, and get hit by a bus. Seriously. Do it for the children.

    This is the "freedom" our troops are defending with their lives and sacred honor? The freedom to hate and discriminate and ostracize? Yay America.

    Posted by Tom, 2/1/2008 5:32:26 AM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...