Friday, January 19, 2007

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

I've recently been seeing quite a few ads for a children's book entitled Why Mommy is a Democrat, advertised as "The book George Bush doesn't want your kids to read!"

After checking out the website, I definitely wonder about the wisdom of the book. Obviously, I'm not going to question any parent's right to buy this book and read it to their children if they choose, nor their intentions in doing so. I just can't help but wonder why you would want to instill "Democrat" in a child, instead of focusing on the values themselves, and let them worry about party affiliation when they get older.

One thing that bothers me about the book is that, just based on the sample pages, it seems to oversimplify political positions a bit in a way that makes Democrats the "good guy." A children's book has to be simple, but giving a child a false impression of the world can sometimes make for more difficult explanations later.

Of course, I do have a rather different upbringing than many I know. My mom is a dedicated Republican, while my dad has been a longtime Democrat. Upon hearing of this, one of my friends once commented, "no wonder you're a moderate."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I'm Big in New Zealand

As part of a recent forum topic, I was doing a couple of Google searches on myself. My real name is fairly common, it seems, so I decided to look it up based on the nickname I commonly use: "Sxeptomaniac". The name is, so far, unique to me, but among the expected results, I got a bit of a surprise. It seems a columnist for the New Zealand Herald found some of my words worth quoting in an opinion piece about relaxed grammar and spelling online. I'm quoted right at the end of the piece:
While I was surfing the net, looking for English language massacres on message boards (they're there and simply too numerous to list), I found a great debate going on between Geek Culture forum members who were taking a new member to task for failing to use basic grammar and correct spelling in his postings.

Sxeptomaniac put it best: "Spelling and grammar are about organising your thoughts in ways that will make sense to others without requiring them to consciously work at it. That's why lack of grammar and spelling is seen as rude here; you're asking us to expend extra effort to read your posts, because you were too lazy to expend that effort yourself when typing them."

Couldn't have put it better myself.

It's pretty fun to find how a little comment of mine ended up in a newspaper all the way across the Pacific.

Of course, the part of me that is quite anal about my writing can't help but think how my wording could have been just a little bit better.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Barack Obama

I've recently been getting interested in the Draft Obama movement.

What I think really stands out about Obama for me is that he doesn't use hot-button issues the way many career politicians do. Many use little sound bites (involving easy, one-sided answers to complex problems) in order to signal to certain groups of people that he/she is "one of them." They then reinforce those kinds of opinions by repeatedly pushing those buttons in order to reinforce support among those who have the same view, while further alienating those who do not. It's the politics of the last 14 years.

I'm definitely ready for something different.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Never happier to be using Linux

I recently was reading through this article on Windows Vista's content protection. If it's even half as bad as the article suggests, Vista is going to be one of the worst operating systems ever. This article didn't have anything better to say.

Overall, Vista's content-protection functionality seems like an astonishingly short-sighted piece of engineering, concentrating entirely on content protection with no consideration given to the enormous repercussions of the measures employed. It's something like the PC equivalent of the (hastily dropped) proposal mooted in Europe to put RFID tags into high-value banknotes as an anti-counterfeiting measure, completely ignoring the fact that the major users of this technology would end up being criminals who would use it to remotely identify the most lucrative robbery targets.

I've never been happier to be an Ubuntu user. Unfortunately, if the author of the article is correct, I won't be able to dodge the increased hardware costs. If it is that bad, I suspect a new branch of hardware manufacturers dedicated to non-Windows users will open up.

Content protection is getting way out of hand. It's gotten to the point where it's often easier and safer to pirate content rather than purchase it. I'm going to stick with legal alternatives myself, but I wouldn't be surprised if, at some point, I end up buying protected versions of music or video, then downloading the pirated versions for actual use. If things continue down the present path, what option will I have left?

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I'm a Christian and political moderate (I tend to be more liberal on core issues and more conservative on the hot-button ones). I have a B.A. in Biblical and Religious Studies and Philosophy.