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How would you swear in an atheist?

December 10, 2006, 11:18 PM

I was listening to the last hour of Bruce Williams‘ December 1 show on my iPod this evening while in the car, and he brought up a topic that I found interesting. In the show, he mentioned that congressman-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN) would be sworn into office using the Koran, which is the holy book of Islam, as he is a Muslim. Now, in researching this a little bit, it turns out that he will not be sworn in using the Koran, as all members are sworn in as a group by the Speaker of the House, with no books involved.

The basic concept was about the use of the Koran. It seems fairly straightforward to me, and Bruce and I seem to be in agreement that if he or any Muslim for that matter, were to be sworn in using the Christian Bible, it wouldn’t mean much to him because it’s not something that is a part of his faith. Likewise for a Christian being sworn in by placing their hand on the Koran.

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It seems that we did it…

November 13, 2006, 10:12 PM

Looks like Virginia is the “Florida” of 2006…

November 8, 2006, 7:15 PM

First of all, just let me say that it was a very challenging ride home from Washington DC last night, because of medium-to-heavy rain for much of the drive home, and wet conditions for the remainder.

However, it was all made more bearable by listening to election result coverage all the way home. On the first half of the trip, I listened on WETA (90.9 FM), Washington’s local National Public Radio (NPR) station. There, instead of the usual BBC World Service feed that they run overnight, we got live election coverage from NPR. On the second half of the return trip, since I finally lose WETA completely at Woodstock, I did a little channel surfing on the radio to continue the live election coverage. For those wondering, I can pick up the local NPR station out of Harrisonburg (WMRA 90.7 FM) from at least as far as Front Royal, but they play classical music during off-times, rather than continuous news and talk like WETA does. And I’m not interested in hearing classical music when I’m trying to stay engaged to drive. I ultimately picked up 750 AM, which is WSB out of Atlanta. I listened to them from Woodstock to Harrisonburg, when I finally switched to WSVA (550 AM) out of Harrisonburg, after I realized that WSB was spending more time on local Atlanta elections that I have no interest in whatsoever, than the races for Congress.

The NPR coverage on WETA was EXCELLENT. They know what they’re doing on there. I quickly found out what was going on before I’d even completely cleared Vienna: the Democrats carried the House of Representatives, and the Senate was still undecided with six races, including those in Montana and Virginia, considered too close to call. As I followed the election coverage through my long, rainy ride home, they, along with WSB and WSVA, were able to call four of them. By the time I arrived home, Montana was still too close to call, but leaning for the Democratic candidate, and Virginia was on a razor-thin margin, flipping back and forth between Allen and Webb. I learned that Allen’s supporters had already gone home with confidence, and Webb’s campaign had already declared victory a little bit after that.

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And now, the zero hour is approaching. Ready, set, vote!

November 6, 2006, 11:00 PM

All right, folks, the polls open early in the morning, and close at 7:00 PM. It is time to make this person’s statement come true, and let the American people reclaim the House of Representatives and the Senate from Republican rule.

I voted a week and a half ago, on October 25. Therefore, my votes have long been cast. Now the rest of you must make your selections.

I make one suggestion: THINK BLUE.

Categories: National politics

Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging, pending appeal. My question becomes…

November 6, 2006, 10:37 PM

I read in the newspaper today that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was convicted of crimes against humanity, and sentenced to death by hanging, pending an appeal.

But what I’d really like to know is, what will we be accomplishing by knocking Saddam off? Seriously, what is anyone proving by knocking him off? So a former dictator will be put to death. If anything, Saddam’s getting off easy. He will be dead, and therefore his problems will be over. It’s not going to get us out of Iraq any sooner, it’s not likely going to stop the insurgency, and it’s not going to solve the basic problems of the Iraqi people.

Now there are certain things that I’m not going to disagree with. I am certainly in agreement with those who say that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who did horrible things to his own people, and allowed other bad things to happen to his people. I’ll give you that. I’ll also agree that he was something of a wacko. His conduct at his trial confirms his status as a wacko.

But why put him to death? As I mentioned above, I think that lets him off extremely easily, even if the death is by hanging, as compared to something somewhat more humane, relatively speaking, like lethal injection. Hanging just seems so primitive, in my opinion, even for a less-developed country.

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Categories: National politics

What do a candidate’s freshman year grades in college really have to do with anything?

June 13, 2005, 7:11 PM

I was reading an article in the Staunton News Leader today at work, talking about John Kerry’s grades in college as compared to those of George W. Bush. I was reading the article, and the question came up again and again – what does this have to do with anything? John Kerry graduated Yale in 1966, and George W. Bush graduated in 1968. As of Election Day 2004, that would make John Kerry’s college days 38 years in the past, and would make George W. Bush’s college days 36 years in the past. Since then, both men pursued their various careers.

I consider career accomplishments better performance indicators than grades, which I consider along the lines of the old saying, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Call it what you will, but I find grades to be rather meaningless, as I’ve seen so many professors play with the numbers to make the grades look the way they want them to look. Besides, what’s important in the college experience? I quote from Dr. Stillion’s Student FAQ:

Since THAT is the very, very valuable thing for which you are investing all this money, time, and energy, you should study with the goal of learning ALL of the material to the best of your ability – and NEVER MIND the grade. In the end, you are NOT learning this stuff for a grade (I know that may seem strange, but it is nevertheless TRUE). Ten years from now, NOBODY will care what grade you made in this course – NOT EVEN YOU … . However, ten years from now, somebody’s LIFE may depend upon how well you comprehended and retained this material with the ability to APPLY it to their situation. … This is true for Psychology classes whether or not you ultimately work in a Psych-related field. Even if you ended up working picking strawberries somewhere, your ability to recognize, for example, a depressed co-worker and get them the help they need could make the difference between life and death for them.

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Categories: National politics

It only took them nearly two years to do it…

January 14, 2005, 7:21 PM

Finally the US has called off its search for weapons of mass destruction (hereafter WMDs) in Iraq, realizing that there are no weapons. And what amazes me is that George W. Bush has no regrets about it, despite that his primary reason for invading Iraq in the first place – the WMDs – turned out to be from inaccurate information.

I find it worthwhile to show you something that was shown at Metro Center station in April 2004:

MoveOn advertisement claiming George W. Bush knew that there were no weapons

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Categories: National politics

I voted… did you?

November 2, 2004, 3:44 PM

After work, I went over to Stuarts Draft Rescue Squad, and voted. And as a result, I got this:

"I voted" sticker

As you probably expected, I voted for John Kerry for President.

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So do you like my signage?

October 25, 2004, 3:00 PM

To drive home the importance of the upcoming election, I actually took my picture off of the main page, in favor of a photo from The Schumin Web Salutes America embellished with red, white, and blue striping and “VOTE NOVEMBER 2” in large letters. Just my not-so-subtle way of getting out the vote. And nonpartisan, too. I’m just saying VOTE in that area. Here in the Journal, however, I’ll tell you that I’m voting for John Kerry and that you should too.

Meanwhile, we can tell what Darby Conley’s feelings are about the election, as well as who to vote for. For those of you who don’t know, Darby Conley is the one who does the syndicated comic strip Get Fuzzy, which I read in the Staunton paper. It’s a very amusing comic strip, with Satchel the dog and Rob the human both being bossed around by Bucky the cat, the cat with that one big fang.

So why do I mention this? Look at today’s strip:

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Categories: Comics, National politics

I have the best election day schedule!

October 20, 2004, 11:31 PM

I’m working 7 AM to 4 PM on election day. That’s a very good schedule for me for that day. I can work from 7 AM until 4 PM. Then on the way home, I can go vote. Then after that, I can hit CNN and watch the election coverage, and see who on earth is going to be the President of the United States on January 20, 2005.

Will it be John Kerry, or will it be four more years of Bush? We shall see…

Meanwhile, it feels very strange writing this journal entry. This is the first new journal entry since I redid the journal as part of the site redesign. And the verdict is… I’m not used to this. I enter my journal entries into an online form and submit them online. So I do use a Web browser to do this, via a Web page. But when I did the journal, I updated my journal form. So while it’s the same basic form, it’s bigger, and it’s a different color. And even though I did all the changes myself, it’s still going to take time to get accustomed to it. We shall see…

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“Priortize”?

October 13, 2004, 9:00 PM

In the third debate, which just ended at the time of this writing, George Bush used a word that I didn’t know the meaning of when he was talking about the availability of flu shots. I don’t know what “priortize” means. That’s pronounced PRY-er-tyze. That’s what Bush said.

I know a word that’s similar to priortize. It’s “prioritize”. I know what that means, and it’s pronounced pry-OR-ih-tyze.

Now I don’t get flu shots as a rule. So I am personally not all that concerned about the availability of flu shots, as I had no intention of getting one in the first place. But I’m just amazed that after almost four years as president and having been made fun of time and time again for mispronunciations, that he totally mispronounced “prioritize” on live national TV in the last debate.

Otherwise, though, it was a good debate. And I’m still voting for John Kerry. And I think Kerry did a better job than Bush in the third debate, like he did in the other two.

So now we have some last-minute campaigning, and then on November 2… we vote!

Categories: National politics

Five days of the same schedule… don’t know how I managed that.

October 8, 2004, 11:11 PM

I may not know how I managed that, but I’m not complaining! It makes working seven days in a row somewhat less painful. Of course, this is being said on a Friday – only day #5. We’ll see what I’m saying come Sunday night, at the end of day #7. Right now I’m like, “Oh, yes, this is just wonderful!” By the end of the seventh day, I could be like, “GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!” We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I watched most of the second debate this evening after work. All in all, I think John Kerry did the better job of the two, and George Bush looked like he was about to explode a few times there. One time he nearly did, jumping right in after Kerry was finished, and cutting off the moderator (Charles Gibson). We’ll see what the news says about it tomorrow morning.

Also, I’m looking at my journal from a year ago, and it’s interesting. This Saturday, October 9, will be the one-year anniversary of my “What part of ‘crosswalk’ do you not understand?” pass through JMU’s campus. That was a very unpleasant trip, and it was because college students don’t know how to watch where they’re going when they cross the street. I look back at it, and I’m amused by how quick I was to break out the obscenities. But at least I found parking.

When people don’t vote, that bothers me.

September 20, 2004, 1:05 AM

It’s amazing how so many people have internalized the notion that their vote doesn’t matter, and thus why bother voting. It really irks me, too. And more amazing is that this is after the election of 2000, where, in order to determine who would be the President of the United States, the de facto leader of the free world, people in Florida were carefully scrutinizing thousands of individual ballots to get an accurate count of the votes in a very close election.

And it’s amazing the excuses people give. My favorite one was when someone said that they don’t vote because of the electoral college system. And in probing further, it turned out that the actual reason for not voting was not the electoral college itself, but more of a lack of understanding of how it works.

For those of you who don’t know, the electoral college system, which we use for electing the President works like this. The people (you and I, for instance) vote for a slate of electors at the voting booth. These electors have committed to voting for the presidential and vice presidential candidates that they are named with. So you’re not voting directly for John Kerry or George Bush. You’re voting for John Doe, Jane Doe, Jim Doe, and Joe Doe, who will cast their electoral votes for their candidate, should their slate of electors win the vote of the state. Thus the winner-takes-all method of giving electoral votes. Then the winning set of electors casts their electoral votes some time after the general election. That makes it official who’s president, and the Vice President then officially counts the electoral votes before the Senate, who officially announces the winner of the election.

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Categories: National politics

“One person. One life. One Web site.”

August 20, 2004, 10:32 PM

Still working on redesign ideas, and I think I’ve come up with a theme for the redesigned site. Some sort of overarching theme for the Web site. Something that will stick in your mind. Something, at least. When I originally thought this up in the shower this morning (all my great Web ideas are thought up in the shower, but few actually leave the shower), I originally thought it up as, “One person. One Web site.” But that sounded too much like, “One person, one vote.” And while this is a presidential election year (SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE: Vote for John Kerry!), that’s not exactly what we’re going for on this Web site, which tries for the most part to keep politics out of frame. (The trick now is to say that with a straight face after I write my next quote article.) So I threw in “One life” in order to make it more personal, and as a reminder that this site is now more so than ever a 360-degree view of my life. So we’ll see how far that goes in the redesign, and how it turns out in the end. I do like that phrase…

Speaking of my life, though, my one hard drive is going to have to become multiple CDs sooner rather than later. I’m out of disk space! An 80-gigabyte hard drive, and I managed to fill ‘er up. Mostly with stuff from Big Mavica, which is a testament to how much use Big Mavica gets. Realize I’ve had to cut stuff on my computer to fit in three out of the last four photo sets. So we’re against the wall, as I’ve cut just about everything I am willing to cut. Time to burn CDs. This is going to hurt.

I also realized how few CD-Rs I have. I thought I had a big spindle of them. Turns out I was imagining one like my sister has as being one of mine. So that sucks. I have maybe ten blank CD-Rs in my possession, in a half-sized spindle, after realizing that my “stash of CDs”, which I had “hidden so well” was a lot smaller than I thought it was.

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“This train will now be off-loaded. All customers must exit the train at this time. This train is now OUT OF SERVICE.”

August 7, 2004, 12:48 AM

Yes, this phrase actually happened to me at Metro Center on Wednesday, on the Red Line platform in the direction of Shady Grove. That was delay number three of three delays I experienced on the Red Line. Let me tell you what happened…

First of all, after going out to Rockville to meet Oren of Oren’s Transit Page, I went out to Shady Grove to see the Shady Grove rail yard, the adjacent Ride-On bus yard, and get a rail-to-bus transfer to use on Ride-On a little later.

So after I got back to the train at Shady Grove and boarded, the train operator made this announcement:

“This is the Red Line to Glenmont by way of downtown Washington DC. Stand clear, doors will be closing.”

This was followed by the “doors closing” announcement and the chime. And we’re off! Or so we thought. Before we’ve even completely cleared the station, the train stops, and the train operator said that we are experiencing a delay and that we will be going back to Shady Grove and opening the doors again. So the train is put into reverse and we are back where we started. “Doors opening!”

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