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I admit it.  I'm into schadenfreude.  I know it's not a psychologically or spiritually healthy pleasure, but having spent my entire childhood (and several major episodes during my adulthood) being abused by bullies, I can't help but take delight when the "karma's a bitch" equation completes itself and misfortune lands upon the head of someone who so richly deserves it.


Over at Uncensored we had a "recurring villain" who would show up from time to time and derail every thread he could wedge his keyboard into.  He went by the screen name "Curly Surmudgeon" and was pretty extreme about everything.  He'd frequently claim that anyone who isn't a militant atheist like him is clinically insane.  He'd force rather bizarre political views down everyone's throats and say very rude and disturbing things about anyone who tried to steer the discussion back on course.  He was a tinfoil hatted lunatic who ran OpenBSD.  When he was asked to leave he screamed about censorship.  Insults flew in every direction, and when someone randomly called him a pedophile he suddenly came completely unhinged and started threatening to sue everyone involved for defamation of character.

A few years later we have just discovered that, as a matter of public record, he actually is a pedophile, having been arrested on some pretty serious child pornography charges.   I think that pretty much slams the door shut on any possible libel or slander lawsuits.  Couldn't have happened to a nicer person.  :)

There are limits to my schadenfreude, though.  Despite the delight of imagining his tinfoil-hatted head exploding after having a government-issued tracking device strapped to his ankle, I hope and pray that this incident will truly convict him and get him thinking, reflecting, etc. and eventually repent before he has to stand before the God that he spent his entire life trash-talking.


There's another bit of schadenfreude in my life right now, and it will culminate in a delightful celebration early next year.

As many of you know, I am a nerd.  I like computers, I hate sports.  I can play four instruments but I despise popular culture.  I'd rather have a chess board in front of me than a dance floor.  I can name all the characters on the original Star Trek but I could count the number of reality show characters whose names I know on one hand -- even if you cut my fingers off.

So it's no surprise that my childhood was pretty miserable.  I was unpopular, I was un-cool, I didn't get invited to parties, and I seldom had more than a handful of people I could truly call my friends.  My sister, on the other hand ... was a cheerleader.  She was popular and trendy and cool and had lots of friends.  We have always been opposites in every way; if we didn't have a Sebastian-and-Viola resemblance to each other I would really doubt that we were even really related.  But she was my sister, and she could be the one person who could give me some street cred, right?  The one person who could socially prop me up?

Nope.  Instead of helping me out, she made it worse.  She distanced herself from me as much as possible, assuming that I would be toxic to her reputation.  "Oh he's a total loser," she'd tell everyone.

Fast forward a few decades.  I now have a gorgeous wife, beautiful children, a nice house in the quiet suburbs, and a successful career.  What's she up to?  Well, let's just say that she still likes to "party like it's 1999."  In other words, she still acts like a 25 year old, hanging out with her friends and consuming way too much alcohol.  She doesn't have the things she really wants: a family and a meaningful career.  So it is no small pleasure for me to count down to her 40th birthday early next year. 

Turning 40, no husband, no kids.  Karma's a bitch, bitch.

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Thu Nov 28 2013 18:54:23 EST
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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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