Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Hipster Cool Dude

I have long been wanting new gadgets. And I have also been fashionably late in buying those gadgets. I talk myself out of them saying that in 4 months I will be able to get something twice as good for half the price. I am usually right, but when you never buy it makes no sense. So after spending 3 and a half years drooling over MP3 players, I received this one for Christmas:

Boy am I in heaven. This thing lets me listen to the radio, view pictures, and listen to my music on the go. So now that I am ultra cool and all, I have the right to wear this thing around. I mean I have seen people with earbuds in for a long time and it is socially acceptable. So the first thing that I did after receiving the gift and putting the Weezer Blue album on it was of course go out in public. "Hey honey, can you go get a couple items from the grocery store," was my cue. I threaded the earbuds through the jacket, hit play, put the player in my pocket and was off. Of course I did not make it out the door without my wife hanging her head in shame. Am I off or is that not still cool? I told her it was, but I don't think she believes that I am on the cusp of a culteral revolution or anything.

Monday, December 11, 2006

20,000 Reasons Not To Write About The Sea

I have been enjoying reading books once again. The past year has seen me read more books for pleasure than the past 10 years combined. I started out strong with Asimov's Foundation series. I explored many different aspects of Michael Crichton's imagination. I even gave Carl Sagan's Contact a try. Currently I am reading a book about heroic American figures that are not widely publicized.

So my current dilemma is to find a new book to read. I started thinking about different ideas and I could not come up with just one. A lot of authors I enjoy write thousand page novels that take 300 pages to introduce the characters. I don't think I have time for that. I enjoyed the quick fun pace of the Foundation series, so a sci-fi book sounded appealing. I pondered what genre of this crazy dorky world to explore and finally came up with a topic I was interested in. The following is the premise that I wish to explore in a book:

In the near future (50-400) years humans discover that exploring the solar system is very costly and not producing enough benefits. It still is only an elite few who can go up and small outposts are on the Moon / Mars etc. But the expected space boom just did not happen like the Jetsons promised. Somewhere in this time frame someone thought, "What about the 70% of the world that we can't live on?" At this point a new exploration / settlement occurs in which humans migrate / expand to the oceans and find new ways of living. It is much cheaper and easier than shipping people 100,000 times the distance to a nearby rock. Therefore this story is set with the expansion to the ocean as its backdrop. Now this does not include any people mutating into gilled creatures or anything. Just finding expansion room on Earth rather than elsewhere.

So I have searched for such a book. It sounds not only interesting to me, but also plausible. However, finding such a book has been anything but easy. I searched at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon.com, the local library, and even Google. The only possible solution that I have found is located in an annoyingly green background site titled If You Like This. Beware going to that site if your eyes are not steady.

So my wife casually laughed at my subject of search and said, "Why don't you just write the book if you can't find it?" So the more frustrated I get with my search, the more I consider the idea. I do like the scenario at least. Lend me your thoughts.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Am I Outdated?

I am coming up on my 25th birthday soon and the question above is in my mind. I have crossed over into geezer status it seems in many ways. I remember how things were better back in the day and miss the old days. I was going to put links to things in my post, but then was daunted by the task.

My wife and I were in the car coming back from our Thanksgiving trip and both started belting out a song and suddenly realized that it came out when we were in junior high. We both have pretty much stopped liking new music. A month ago I was seriously considering an offer from an infomercial for a CD featuring Best of the 90s rock. I still think of grunge as a new movement, of Weezer as great band, and Nirvana as the rockin rebels of the age. Bands like Creed and STP that don't exist anymore are still in the new section of my media library.

It was 10 years ago that movie blockbusters such as Independence Day, Mission Impossible, Jerry Maguire, Space Jam, and Happy Gilmore debuted. Jurassic Park was a 1993 product while Home Alone kicked serious tail in 1990. I watched The Santa Clause 3 this past weekend with my in-laws and in the movie they did a flashback to the first film... 12 years ago! Tim Allen is still the coolest... isn't he?

I guess I know what my kids will be thinking some day. Why do we always watch Home Improvement seasons on DVD and then have mom put in her Law & Order shows. Why does he listen to the oldies station that plays Mariah Carey, Green Day, Boys II Men, Pearl Jam, Coolio, Savage Garden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Backstreet Boys, and the Smashing Pumpkins.

Oh brother am I ever locked in.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Today's Media Demands

I found myself sucked in again this afternoon. I happened to check cnn.com for news and there was some. "Plane Hits Manhattan High-Rise" caught my attention fairly quickly. My immediate thought was "Oh crap, hope there aren't more on the way." I figured that they had found a way through with small planes or something.

I then fell into an all too familiar habit of alt-tabbing over and refreshing the page every 30 seconds and expecting new information each time. The story changed several times. Sometimes it was a helicopter, other times airplane, and other times the safer aircraft. So once I saw that it was contained, I switched over and assumed that any second now the name and motive of the pilot would emerge. It didn't for quite a while and the first sign that I saw was an announcement by Yankees skipper Joe Torre. That seemed quite odd to me.

I finally found out the details and that Cory Lidle had passed away. I guess it was engine trouble, we will find out soon enough.

I have since thought about my actions today and wondered what is wrong with me. I am addicted to knowing everything the second it happens. And not only that, I demand accuracy in the reporting and complain to no end when the media jumps the gun. I think I can see why they jump the gun now. It is to get my attention because I am demanding something... anything. I have the sneaking suspicion that too many Americans are this way. We demand to be informed correctly for no other reason than to be informed. It doesn't move us to action or anything, we just want to know. I at least need to stop jumping on the hype train as often as I do.

So the only appropriate response of mine today is to offer my deepest condolences to those who knew the people killed tragically today.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Glory Road

. : Politics : .

I watched a pretty good movie the other night and it got me thinking on a lot of things. I saw Glory Road by Disney. It is a story about the first NCAA basketball team that actively used African-American players in the 60s. One of the things that seemed very foreign to me was the racial hatred portrayed in the movie. The bad looks, the vicious words, the beatings, the KKK blood threats. It all seemed like something out of a horror movie to me. I couldn't help but think how far we have come since that time. I am sure that there are racial problems today, and I see them. But the widespread hate and violence just is not there anymore.

Now several of you are wondering where I am going with this and so here I go...

Let me first apologize in advance to anyone offended by these statements. I am not in any of these situations, but I can see parallels.

The recent struggle in the Middle East between Hezbollah and Israel have really brought to the surface deep rooted hatred. I see people cheering death, I see countrywide struggles over seemingly small things, and I see many many people blinded by their prejudice on both sides of the argument. Many people ask today for Peace in the Middle East, but almost every single one asks with a sly grin of sarcasm. When I was watching Glory Road, I saw an ugly past, but I also saw a better present. I saw a bad situation that I don't think anyone thought would change, but that has changed for the better. So I offer this positive trend as an example of hope to those who think that there will always be constant bickering and war in Holy Land.

Let me know if you don't see these as slight parallels and I will reconsider, but the situations have many of the same undertones.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Round Up

. : Sports : .

It's time for the Cowboys to kick it in to high gear. It is once again football season and the spirit around town is that it is about time. Saturday night kicked off a new season that is already full of controversial water cooler topics. The Tony Romo debate is in full swing and I for one am on his side. I am ready for a new franchise quarterback, but I am not sure how ready Jerry Jones is.

Baseball has been dragging on, and with a team constantly doing its best not to be in first place, most people have given up on the season. The Rangers are only about 5 games out, but I would be surprised to see them make that up. They have had several good signs of late and I think that the team looks promising for next year.

The PGA Championship starts on Thursday and should be pretty good. The fact that Tiger is back on his game makes it even more appealing to watch. I am going to be one of the < 1% of America that thinks a guy not named Tiger or Phil will win it... we will see how that pans out.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When I Look To The Stars

. : Religion : .

... is a great song by Switchfoot.

It seems to capture my sentiments about the natural universe around me. I am constantly in awe of what God has built around me. This picture today inspired even more wonder on my part. It is a picture of a solar flare using Earth's size as a scale.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Movie Review

. : Special : .

The Greatest Game Ever Played - 4.5/5

I can't even begin to describe how much I enjoyed this film. And for all of you non-golfers out there, my wife enjoyed it too. This is the story of a non-elite normal boy being given the opportunity of a lifetime and proving his worth. As much as this is a movie about golf, it is equally a movie about class status or a caste system that I frankly take for granted these days. For instance, I am going to play golf in two days and pay about 20 dollars for green fees and a cart. This simple public course was non existent in the early 1900s and portrayed as even forbidden.

The movie did an excellent job of displaying the mental side of golf, which non golfers rarely see and which haunts pros and amateurs alike. The old style clubs were fun to see. I am sure that the courses were easier back then and shorter as well, but with the equipment that they had, it was certainly a challenge.

This movie really showcased sportsmanship in several of the players and the opposite in many others. I was very impressed with the main character, Francis Ouimet, and even more impressed that they didn't 'fluff' up his character too much for the movie. The opponent, if you could call him that, was Harry Vardon. I loved his non-flamboyant style combined with his competitive tactics.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

. : Sports : .

It looks like Rangers are once again trying to play themselves out of a championship. The AL West is still up for grabs and they just can't seem to take the leap and claim it. Pitching as usual has been spotty, but so have the bats.

The first NFL game kicked into gear and brought about football excitement for the first time in a while. I am ready to see the Cowboys light up some people. The big story around here has been Oklahoma dumping its quarterback because he got caught taking money on the side. He is getting railed for getting caught... that's about it.

I am not sure who to pull for in the college ranks. It seems like there is a void at the top that unfortunately strength of schedule will decide. I am certainly hearing it from the Notre Dame media blitz, but I will believe it when I see it. Their schedule is brutal and they just haven't shown me much in many many years. Let me know who you want me to root for, although make sure that they have a tangible mascot.

Tiger has pulled out of what I thought was a really bad hole. I thought this would be an off year and had written him off until next season, but he keeps on proving me wrong on that one and keeping up his high standards.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Hard to Pass Up

Watch out there folks.

There is a new scam in town and it is coming after you. The following quote gives you all that you need to know:

People were persuaded to buy a powder which they could allegedly turn into "Magic Cheese", said to make skin look younger and to be highly valuable.

So watch out there folks and don't let anyone slip this one by you.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

To Buy or Not 2by

. : Technology : .

So I have fever... and the only cure is a cool laptop. That's right, I have the 'buy a cool toy' itch. What is it i want, only a laptop / tablet pc. That is one that has a normal screen that flips around. Here are a couple examples:



So now all I need is the 1500 bucks to get one of these bad boys!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pure Genius

. : Politics : .

I read an interesting article on how it is near impossible to stop the forces of the market. One of the prime examples used was the former Soviet Union and its many black / gray / off-white markets. However, this story applied to public schools that ban junk food. This smart kid is making 100 bucks a day selling junk food at school! According to the article:
William Guntrip is a 13-year-old boy whose central England school banished vending machines and snack-shop food in favor of nutritious offerings at the cafeteria. Guntrip spotted a market opportunity and has been buying soft drinks and candy and reselling them in his school playground. The school is trying to stop him and claims that most students are happy with the new regime, although if that was true then Guntrip wouldn't be making nearly $100 a day.
Here's two thumbs up for William! Way to stick it to the man.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Eye Candy

. : Technology : .

Yah, you know you want this. Go buy it for only $7,500! I probably will never get this... but I would like a good set-up soon. What kind of extreme gadget are you looking for?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Global Warming !?!?!

. : Special : .

"What is the deal with this heat... Its the worst ever"

So what is the actual fact on it? Is this the hottest year on record in an ever increasing trend? I personally remember 1998... and playing tennis all summer long. Well lets put a Dallas perspective on it:

Year, number of 100-degree days, highest temperature that year.
  • 1980, 69, 113

  • 1998, 56, 110

  • 1954, 52,109

  • 1956, 48, 107

  • 2000, 46, 111

  • 1952, 44, 108

  • 1951, 40,107

  • 1963, 38, 105

  • 1978, 36, 107

  • 1943, 34, 110

Source: National Weather Service

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Free Market Works

. : Politics : .

I wanted to point out a very good article that was written recently by Thomas E. Nugent over at the National Review. It explains in fairly simple terms how lowering tax rates increased overall taxes collected. It is a fairly simple equation of give more back to the people and see what they do with it.

What they do with it apparently is invest it. This is a most beneficial mechanism for many reasons. First, we give more control back to the individual over what their money is used for. Second, with all of this extra cash, individuals are able to invest in many things. Now some of you are sneering most likely that they are investing in their own retirement. True, but in their own selfishness they fund things such as medical research, technology growth, education, and many other worthwhile things. Third, an increased wealth allows for greater dollar amount of personal giving. Once again the synical will point to people that hoard piles of gold. I don't know how everyone else uses their money, but I know how I and many others do and it is in a way that is beneficial to many others. A mainstream example of extreme wealth gone good is Warren Buffet's recent donation of 40 billion dollars to help fund medical research and other worth causes. He is specifically targeting the poor and is no doubt going to be able to make a great contribution to the entire world.

The Bush tax cuts are up for renewal and need to be passed in order to continue this level of growth for our nation.

There are many other things that I could say about this system of macro/micro economics. If you have a specific question / critique, please leave a comment.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Wild Wild East

. : Sports : .

That's right! The AL East is the most competative division this year in baseball. It is virtually up for grads between 3 teams. What is that you say? I thought only Boston and New York were good in that division. Well don't forget about those pesky Blue Jays. Toronto has been somewhat quiet this year since they have no led the division. But they still have a legitimate MVP candidate who has plenty of offensive help and a perenial Cy Young candidate leading the staff. They are only 4 1/2 games back right now and I see them taking advantage of a Red Sox and Yankees shootout. With 3 teams competing for one playoff spot, this could be fun.

Now some of you National League fans are probably screaming right now that the NL West is the most competative division. And I see a legitimate cause for such thoughts. However I am going to redefine competative to mean in terms of the entire major leagues and not just intra-division. Inside the NL West it is closer than Randy Galloway to the race tracks. Outside the NL West they hardly crack the top half of the pros.

Friday, July 14, 2006

It's 5 o'clock Somewhere..

. : Free Day : .

Several thoughts come to mind today. But the first is that it feels like the Middle East is about to go nuts. It appears to me that Iran is funding people in order to bait Israel into attacking everyone. That way they have an acceptable excuse to retaliate. My only reaction is that this escalation is scary as all get out.

For the umpteenth time someone thinks Weezer is done for and never going to play again.

The Texas Rangers decided to hit once again. Since they are in a wide open division, look out! This might encourage the ownership to open up their pocket books.

I just finished the book State of Fear and would recommend it to you. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars. The language and adult themes kept it from 5 out of 5. It is a story that really emphasizes a need for a paradigm change among the entire environmental movement. It points out that there is a lot more phantom doomsday reports and a lot less constructive advances. It also is heavy into scientific proof behind any such theory. The action in the book is what really makes it good. Every chapter keeps you interested in spite of the huge amount of scientific data presented in the book. I hope you get a chance to read it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Video Game Re-Runs

. : Technology : .

Microsoft is giving XBox360 users the ability to download old games on the new system. The folks over at gamasutra have part of the release schedule:
  • July 12 – Frogger

  • July 19 – Cloning Clyde

  • July 26 – Galaga

  • August 2 – Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting

  • August 9 – Pac-Man

I havn't been this excited about a Tiger Uppercut in a long time!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Justin the Martyr

. : Religion : .

In preparing for a discussion that I am leading tonight, I ran across a lot of information on Justin the Martyr. I find this guy to be quite articulate for his time and quite bold.

I read through his apology and got a good sense of 2nd century Christian beliefs. For those of you who are not familiar with him, he lived between 100 and 165 AD. He grew up in the area of Samaria but traveled all over the place. Around 150 AD he wrote to the Emperor and defended Christians from widespread persecution. I found several quotes from him to be fascinating.

This is his response as to why Christians allow themselves to be persecuted by the authorities. I found it to be a great statement of faith.
And concerning our being patient of injuries, and ready to serve all, and free from anger, this is what He said: 'To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other; and him that taketh thy cloak or coat, forbid not. And whosoever shall be angry, is in danger of the fire. And every one that compelleth thee to go with him for a mile, follow him two. And let your good works sine before men, that they, seeing them, may glorify your Father which is in heaven.'

I find this next statement a particularly bold statement in regards to who we worship. He basically says, I will give you everything you ask except my faith and worship.
Whence to God alone we render worship, but in other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging you as kings and rulers of men, and praying that with your kingly power you be found to possess also sound judgment. But if you pay no regard to our prayers and frank explanations, we shall suffer no loss, since we believe (or rather, indeed are persuaded) that every man will suffer punishment in eternal fire according to the merit of his deed, and will render account according to the power he has received from God, as Christ intimated when He said, 'To who God has given more, of him shall more be required.'

And lastly, he describes the 'church services' that he is used to participating in.
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Not Above The Law

. : Politics : .

The Court system and namely Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan did the citizens of the united states a great service yesterday. He upheld that politicians are not above the law once they take office. He ruled that a legal subpoena is not null and void if you are a congressman. According to CNN.com:

Jefferson's theory of legislative privilege "would have the effect of converting every congressional office into a taxpayer-subsidized sanctuary for crime," the judge said.

I was particularly disgusted that members of both political parties supported this immunity. I guess I should not be surprised, but I thought one or both parties would stand up with some sort of high and might tune and denounce corruption. Instead they both acted like they themselved had something to hide in the process. Again according to CNN.com:

At issue was a constitutional provision known as the speech and debate clause, which protects elected officials from being questioned by the president, a prosecutor or a plaintiff in a lawsuit about their legislative work.

So are you argueing that being corrupt and taking money on the side is part of your 'legislative work' ? Give me a break.

On a lighter note ethics sometimes seem to mirror the following cartoon:

Monday, July 10, 2006

Vittorie dell'Italia

The mighty Azzurri have conquered the French!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Take Me Out

. : Friday Free Day : .

... is a great song by Franz Ferdinand and a beast to play on Guitar Hero.

... to the ballgame tonight. Getting to see the Texas Rangers and the Minnesota Twins tonight from around row 20. Should be fun.

For Sports I have 2 thoughts.
1. It is a shame that Justin Verlander did not make it to the All Star game. He is pitching quite well and is dominating, especially for a rookie.

2. It is great to see Italy in the World Cup final. Roots for them to kick the socks off of the French.

For Technology I want to recommend Thinwire to you. It is very versatile web framework. It makes writing web application easy and makes them look more like desktop applications than online forms.

In Politics, check out this National Review paragraph on the 9th circuit appellate court getting smacked around by the Supreme Court for just plain stinking.

On the home front I got a request to talk about how on Earth I handle conflict resolution now that I am married. This is quite a good question and one that I am learning more and more about each day. Once you become married you have to learn to switch from a What do I want? to a What do we want? mentality. This is much easier said than done and takes time to develop (2 years is not nearly enough for me). You have to learn that you can't ignore problems. For instance, I can't avoid an argument by skipping out to play golf and come back to find it resolved. It will still be there and it will still be an issue until I/She/We figure something out. I have also found out that in order to not go completely batty, you have to learn that is ok to do things separately. As in, I don't have to go to scrapbooking nights if she doesn't have to go the Mavericks game. And if you can coordinate those on your own activities to occur at the same time, all the better. I am rambling now but feel free to send more specific questions.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Deep Space Travel

. : Technology : .

I think that space travel is quite fascinating. I guess you could say that it is my blood since I have a grandparent who was big in the industry. Ever since people latched on to Asimov's idea of hyperspatial travel, people in general just assumed that pretty soon we would be trouncing around the galaxy. Shows like Star Trek gave us the idea that jumping around our quadrant was an everyday occurrence. The Jetsons made us think that it would be right around the corner. Even the movie Blade Runner gave us the idea that after the year 2000, space travel would be the norm.

The reality however is that as fast as technology has accelerated, it has not been able to catch up with the special effects department of Hollywood. Getting to the moon and back is our best accomplishment to date for human travel. While this took a great amount of new ideas and new technology, it pales in comparison to science fiction. A fun but probably slightly outdated read can be found here.

What we do have is a lot less glamorous, but in my mind it is equally cool. The Gravitational Slingshot method was used to send the Cassini-Huygens probe to Saturn. I found the picture below on Wikipedia which demonstrates how we used the gravitational pull of the sun and several planets to accelerate our way out to Saturn.

Cassini Interplanetary Trajectory

This is the limit of our current technology. Even if we were able to travel at the speed of light (which we are nowhere near close to), it would take several years to get to another star. I think the learning curve on safe and ordinary space travel that has been dangled in front of us for years will be much slower than touted. However that does not mean that we should slow down or give up. There is enough to explore right here for now.

The Format

Ok, in order to keep this thing both informative and not long-winded, I had come up with the following format for your enjoyment. These will be the daily topics that I will contribute.

Monday:        Sports
Tuesday:       Politics
Wednesday:  Religion
Thursday:     Technology
Friday:          Viewer Requests

Send any and all stories / topics for Fridays to jordancpowell@hotmail.com

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Where Did I Go

Hey, guess who forgot they had a blog... yah that would me.

I was reminded by my friend Ted that I had one so now I am thinking about using it once again. I have a lot of junk... I mean information that I will be dispersing here.