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We're aaaaaaaaaall connecteddd...
It was probably 1983 or so when New York Telephone (now Verizon) upgraded our exchange from electromechanical switching to an AT&T 5ESS.  I clearly remember the day when I finished dialing a friend's number and didn't hear that satisfying "ka-CHUNK" indicating that you had successfully dropped a trunk line and the call was on its way.  I also remember shortly after that, using touch-tone on our line even though "we didn't have that service."

Adding touch-tone to a line served by mechanical switch required modifications that really did cost telco money.  On an electronic switch it was just an intrinsic part of the system, but for several years they tried to get away with continuing to charge extra for it.  I used tone dial on my modem and when telco tried to slap us with the fee we told them, "nope, not paying for it, shut the service off."  I knew they didn't have the ability to do that, so they simply took the fee off the bill.

That was a generation ago, when my dad was skeptical that I could even make a touch tone dialer work, and even more skeptical when he brought in the phone bill and I told him we can easily refuse to pay for tone service.  Today, my kids wouldn't know how to use a rotary phone if they saw one (Wes would probably figure it out, he's into that kind of stuff) but it's fun to think about how the dialing isn't even decoded by a switch at the telco, but rather by a 612A ONT in the basement that terminates the analog leg and sends the call out digitally over fiber optic cable between my home and the central office.   And long distance is billed at a flat monthly rate -- who'd have ever thought?

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Mon Nov 18 2013 07:48:55 EST
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John Calvin and his spiritual elitism

Ok folks, a few words here about a little thing called respect. Respect is not something to which everyone is entitled regardless of their behavior. Furthermore, things like age, position, status, etc. do not make someone worthy of respect. Respect is earned. If you go through life lying, cheating, and abusing people as if you were some sort of gangster, I don't care where it's gotten you in life: you don't deserve respect, you deserve all the scorn that is heaped upon you from all directions.

A couple of days ago I heaped a big pile of scathing criticism upon a prominent public figure. I consider this particular public figure to be so completely devoid of propriety that I often call into question whether he is even human. To my surprise, I became the target of a personal attack by a 'helpful' friend who suggested that I have fallen out of favor with God because of this display.

(Go ahead and do your double-take now, I'll wait...)

I happen to know that this person enthusiastically subscribes to the theology of spiritual elitism known as Calvinism. After taking a little time to become more familiar with this theology, I realize that it would have been really entertaining if I'd been around to see God bitch-slap John Calvin and say 'Dude, wtf is this bullshit you've been telling everyone about me?' If you're a Christian and/or have even a passing familiarity with the Bible, you know that salvation is by grace, not by our own good works, and that none of us is righteous enough to save ourselves. Calvinism does an end run around the Bible by making the claim that God's grace is not available to everyone -- it's only available to a select few, and the Calvinists then attempt to manipulate your behavior by suggesting that how you behave is an indicator as to whether you are one of those select few.

(Go ahead, check your Bible; yes, you're right, it doesn't say that anywhere.)

Calvinism suggests that a new birth is by God who chooses to select certain people. It says that Man does not have a free will by which he is able to come to Christ for salvation. Now although Almighty God is omniponent and knows whether or not each of us will ultimately repent, Calvinism suggests that it's already been decided for each of us. This goes against most of what the Bible teaches us about repentance; for example, in Acts 17:30 God "commands all people everywhere to repent." And in 2 Peter 3:9 we learn that God is "not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." Perhaps more importantly, Acts 16:31 promises that if you "believe in the Lord Jesus ... you will be saved." It does not say to believe after you are saved.

Guess who 'the elect' are in Calvinism? You guessed it: other Calvinists. This kind of spiritual elitism is exactly the reason so many people are turned off by what someone once called 'pushy religionists'. Believe what we do, act like we do, worship exactly the same way we do, otherwise you're going to burn in Hell!

I'm here to tell you that God's grace is available to everyone. And I'm also here to tell you that God loves you even if John Calvin doesn't. He also loves you even if I don't (which is good -- I'd be a terrible God because there are a lot of people who really piss me off). One of my big mantras is 'meet people where they are, not where you want them to be.' This means that you need to be compassionate, not judgmental.

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Tue Dec 28 2010 18:52:00 EST
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Sacrilege: I don't want an iPad

After trying out an iPad, all I can say is, it really isn't all that impressive. Yes, they've done a nice job -- they always do. But those of us who live outside of the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field are already seeing that it's not the universe-changing milestone of modern computing that the fanbois are claiming it to be. (Although I'm very amused that Apple is succeeding where Microsoft failed -- it's very satisfying to watch because tablets were Bill Gates' pet project. More on that later.)

I do like my netbook, though. Now you've got to keep in mind that netbooks were not originally intended to be "very small laptops" which is how they eventually ended up getting positioned in the market. They were supposed to be access devices, companion devices. Not full-blown PC's. That only happened after Microsoft started freaking out because people were actually buying Linux-based computers (oh no!) and because these devices were being manufactured by PC makers, they had the leverage to force them to lard up the hardware specs until they could (badly) run Windows XP.

What's really funny is that the same person who argued that I was wrong about this -- that people really do want a full-blown computer and not a simple companion device -- is now an iPad owner.

So what's next? I would say, look for some really slick new netbooks emerging in the next year or two. They're not going to be based around PC technology the way the current batch are. We're going to see netbooks with ARM processors running Android or a similar software stack. They're going to be made by companies who aren't as easily pushed around by Microsoft (think phone manufacturers instead of PC manufacturers). They're going to have insanely long battery life and relatively cheap price tags, possibly as low as $100 once they really get going. And a lot of them are going to be sold, many of them to people who won't buy an iPad, either because Apple's prices are too high or because they really wanted something with an actual keyboard.

As a side note, I've gotta say I'm really loving the Android software stack. My wife and I are now the proud owners of Android-based smartphones. It's a beautifully designed environment -- easy to work with, fast and snappy, flexible, and best of all it doesn't lock you into Steve Jobs' walled garden where you can only perform Apple-sanctioned actions using Apple-approved software. Long live the world of open systems.

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Sat May 08 2010 19:41:00 EDT
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Rosie O'Donnell Murders A Three Year Old Girl

Yesterday's news reported that a three year old girl in Tennessee accidentally shot and killed herself after mistaking a loaded .380 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun for a Wii Remote.

Supposedly the child's stepfather 'accidentally' left the weapon out on a table right next to the video game system. As a responsible parent, I don't believe this for a minute. No one would be so careless as to put their child in that kind of danger. I believe that this was no accident. It is a scheme deliberately set up by people who want more draconian gun control laws.

Perhaps the most well known gun control advocate is Rosie O'Donnell, who claims that the Second Amendment is 'not really a right'. So there you have it: a three year old child is dead because of Rosie O'Donnell.

I am not a gun owner, but at some point I would like to learn to shoot and perhaps own a weapon of my own someday. Gun control laws are a dangerous step on the path to totalitarian government. People who advocate abridging our right to bear arms don't realize that it is the government itself from which the second amendment is intended to protect us.

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Fri Mar 12 2010 05:00:00 EST
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Racism in the Age of Obama

I hate Facebook.

But you knew that already. I think it's a gigantic pile of crap. It's a mile wide and an inch deep, and it's impossible to have a truly deep discussion of any topic there. A few months ago, however, I allowed myself to be assimilated into Mr. Zuckerberg's present-day incarnation of The Borg, mainly because I have a number of friends who are pretty much unreachable anywhere else.

On my very first day in the Facebook cesspool I was friended by one particular chap that I knew in college. We never really got along all that well, but we ran with the same crowd so we both did what we could to make it work. Most of the time, anyway. For the purpose of this discussion, let's call him "Tim," -- partially because it's convenient to type, but also because that happens to be his real name. I won't mention his last name or whereabouts because I generally try not to do the libel thing, and he's not a public figure; he's a private citizen.

I use the term "citizen" loosely, though, beause he doesn't really deserve to possess citizenship in the United States of America, a country founded upon ideals of freedom and liberty. Tim was born in America, but he doesn't act like an American. He seems to have a deep yearning to live in the bad old days of Soviet Russia. You see, Tim is a communist.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that he is a big supporter of B. Hussein Obama, who was the most extreme far-left member of Congress until the "perfect storm" of 2008 set the stage for his selection as the new occupant of the White House. It's not a stretch to say that he's the worst president ever. I was no fan of his predecessor (indeed, Mr. Bush did certain things that I consider completely unforgivable and I will hold them against him indefinitely) but his transgressions are small compared to those of Comrade Obama.

During the election, it was fashionable and convenient for the Looney Left to assert that anyone who had any criticism of Comrade Obama, or his wife (who built her entire career taking advantage of affirmative action programs) is a racist. To some degree, this still holds true today. They believe that no matter how badly the Obamas damage our nation, no matter how obviously their interests are in line with those of our enemies, no matter how much they continue to deliberately attempt to turn our free nation into a socialist republic, if you say something critical ... by golly, you're a bigoted throwback from the 1950's who just hates black people!

I got no shortage of this line of accusations from Tim yesterday, who decided that I was a dentally-challenged redneck KKK member because I had the audacity to assert that Michelle Obama is ugly. Yes, you heard that right, kids: I think she's ugly. I think she's really ugly. No, Tim, I didn't say that black women are ugly, although I'm sure that's the way you heard it. I said that Michelle Obama is ugly. She looks like a rabid monkey. There are plenty of beautiful black women out there. Michelle Obama is not one of them. The left-leaning mainstream media may try to paint her as some sort of idyllic Betty Crocker, but we know that she's ugly on the outside and on the inside. And because she's evil she isn't entitled to the nice treatment.

Despite the fact that I haven't seen Tim in nearly 20 years, he seems to think he knows everything about me, how I think, how I conduct myself in real life, and what makes me tick. He couldn't be further from the truth. Now, it's true that you will hear "I am not a racist" from people who truly do have some serious bigotry problems, but I like to think that my record speaks for itself. I follow Dr. King's ideal of putting people's virtues ahead of their race. It works in both directions. During my career I have worked with, under, and over people of a number of different races, and many have been both great relationships and great friendships. More importantly, they know exactly where I stand on race issues. They know that I have strong opinions, but that I'm respectful and friendly to everyone until they give me a reason not to be. They also know that I'm brutally intolerant of hypocrisy and laziness. This includes people like Michelle Obama who try to turn everything into a race issue.

Tim gave up on the debate. As far as I'm concerned, he conceded. He also de-friended me on Facebook, which is fine with me because most of his updates were mere shameless self-promotion of his company or some weird exercise program he's endorsing because it has a pyramid MLM attached to it. He's always been an easy sell, which is probably why Comrade Obama's siren song of "hope and change" appealed to him, even though it was (and still is) based around lies.

You really have to wonder what color the sky is in some people's worlds. But one of the few things I do like about Facebook is that I can taunt people who are way too thin-skinned and easily offended. It doesn't matter much to me, because if it makes them hate Facebook, so what? Maybe they'll realize how banal and vacuous it really is.

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Sat Jan 30 2010 13:52:00 EST
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