Casey the Cat: He Died on a Wednesday

Casey the Cat. He died on a Wednesday

When I first met Casey, he was a loud annoying cat who wasn’t very friendly to anyone and had the smell of a sweaty old man. The more I got to know Casey, I realized that he wasn’t very friendly, but was loud and annoying and smelt like a sweaty old man. But he loved me and I loved Casey. He was a great cat. He died on a Wednesday.

A killer cat to be sure. Not many days would go by when he didn’t kill a lizard, a moth, a butterfly, a rabbit or a snake. He was our pest control service. He was also our pest. And we loved him. I don’t think he ever caught enough animals to satisfy him. Always one more that needed to be caught.

Over our years together, he had to go to the vet for many things: a snake bite to the foot, a wound in his other leg and, at in the end, cancer. He was a cat you’d think would have gotten his comeuppance in a fight with a neighborhood cat or maybe a snake that would finally get the best of him. But no, in the end, it was his own little body that failed him.

Never again, will he wake us up at 4 in the morning demanding to be petted or be fed. Never again will he bring a moth into the house, let it loose and meow proudly – as if laughing at our efforts to catch it. He’ll surely be missed. He could never get enough attention at night; while not wanting to be bothered during the day.

Casey wasn’t really a cat though. He was a dog in a former life and he’ll be a dog in the next one. Always dirty – bringing in mountains of dirt from his favorite hobby, rolling around under the sheds. Or hiding in boxes full of popcorn. If he wasn’t dirty when he came in, it was an unusual day. He’d scream at us when it rained; trying to blame us. He loved the dogs and always ran over to them to greet them when he came back inside.  Then cuddle up on the couch and eat sunflower seeds till he had enough.

On a Wednesday, he had enough. For a cat, a full life – finally at peace after his body let him down. For the wildlife in the yard; peace at least.

Godspeed, Casey.

(cross posted at Deco Florida)

A Credit Card For the 21st Century

So, the financial idea for the 21st century:

As of 2008, Americans carry an average of 3.5 credit cards. The average debt per household is about $16,000. That was in 2008, it’s safe to assume that these numbers have grown in the past 4 years.

Also, it’s safe to assume that most of these cards are rewards cards. Either cashback bonuses for use, airline miles, double airline miles, etc.

The problem with the number of cards people carry is a function of quantity (they don’t fit into your wallet) and how do you maximize rewards points and other variables, such as balance and interest rate.

A solution is a single system (online, of course), where you enter in each of your credit cards (a la PayPal). This system talks to your credit card companies to get the balance on your account, the interest rates, your maximum balance (including cash advance) and any rewards programs that they offer.

You’d buy something using this single credit card for every purchase. (Maybe a POS card would be a more appropriate name.) The backend system would authorize the transaction to each of your cards on file, and upon approval of one (or more), the merchant would get an approval notice and for them, the sale is  complete. However, the backend system wouldn’t bill your card just yet. It’d attempt to analyze the purchase you just made.

Was it gas? If so, charge the card that offers gas rewards point or cashback. (Assuming it was approved and you have available balance, of course).

Was it food? Charge a different card that offers restaurant rewards points, instead. (Assuming the above, as well).

Were reward points available for use on one of the cards and could they be used for this purchase?

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Did you want a cash advance? Choose the card that offers the lowest cash APR of the ones you have available. Possibly splitting the charge up amongst the cards for either ease of paying off next month or for balance purposes.

A user could also set a priority for what cards get used. Such as, use the card that gives airline miles over ones that give rewards points. It wouldn’t even be terribly difficult to show the cash value of each – and which one is actually the “best” reward. The system could also make sure that no card goes “unused” for periods of time, which can negatively affect a personal credit score.

The end user benefits, especially if the system could talk to the credit card companies and enroll the customer in rewards programs. Discover, for example, changes its cash back offers every quarter. So you have to call to re-enroll in the program to get maximum benefit on certain purchases. This would automatically enroll you, and if Discover changed their 5% rewards to restaurants one quarter, instead of gas, you’d start using your Discover when you went out to eat. And a different card for gas, instead of Discover.

A nominal fee could be assessed to users. Or, the card could simply have a higher than normal discount rate at the merchant processing it. Passing the fees along to them. Rewards cards do this already; so that is not even an entirely new concept.

In addition to credit cards, gift cards could be added to this card – and since most gift cards are thrown away and not used (or not fully used!) it’d allow customers to both use these more efficiently and more completely. Other swipe cards could easily be added, as well.

This sort of system would make credit/debit card use more efficient and the customer gets more rewards in the process. Credit card companies are ensured their cards are used more often (people often forget to use given card for months at a time) and incentivizes them to offer more rewards to attract more customers. It’s a win-win for both sides of the spectrum.

Alabama Mandates Gun Ownership

This is the brave new world we live in. The freest country on the face of the earth. Or so it was. But, it seems governments – state and federal – are enjoying their new found powers to force people to buy a product they don’t want.

On the Federal level, Obamacare forces people to buy insurance, even if they don’t want to.

Massachusetts, of course, started this trend with their mandate. And you wonder why Conservatives hate you, Mitt?

Now, Alabama is on board with this same mentality:

A controversial new law has passed the Alabama legislature that will force all citizens to carry guns into work environments that the state government considers “dangerous.”

This only covers abortion doctors for now; but why stop at them? Seriously. Every job can be dangerous on their own, unique ways.

But I love this quote:

“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Debbie Wellbright, a senior director and doctor at the Birmingham  Planned Parenthood Center. “I absolutely hate guns, and I refuse to have the government tell me that I have to buy one. This violates my personal liberties and beliefs. I don’t know who these people think they are.”

I’m curious about this person’s support of Obamacare. Does she think government has the right to force you to buy insurance?

Clearly, if you believe that gunshots cost the state a lot of money (by fixing people who get shot, naturally),  you could argue it’s a cost saving measure to force people to buy a gun to protect themselves. Possibly even saving money by killing a  few criminals at the same time. So, what’s the argument for mandate lovers?

This is your world, mandate lovers. Live in it and enjoy it. The government now thinks you are a serfs to be controlled.

The Problem with Skyrim Post

This post will come from the point of view of pure destruction mage (no melee combat talents, whatsoever, so keep that in mind). I’m level 48, here is a link to my current build. Yes, I have unused talents for some reason. I’m near indestructible. I’ve turned combat to master to try and make it interesting again, but don’t really notice much change; except a few deaths from an ice spike to the face.

Is this the best game ever made? Probably. Does that mean it doesn’t have some serious problems? No.

I’ll avoid the topic of cute bugs, because it’s an open world game. Millions of people experiencing the game in a million different ways. You simply cannot account for it all. Who expects people to try and put a bucket on someone’s head?

Very long post, so most is after the cut:

Continue reading

I’m Occupying Wall Street

I’m occupying Wall Street and complaining about corporate greed ….

While wearing a shirt I bought at Abercombie
And tweeting from my Iphone that I bought from Apple.
And being spied on by Facebook that I’m connected through my Ipad.
And using Google to find directions to other nearby protests.
And talking to other protesters thru the AT&T cell phone network.

I’m upset that ….

Big companies are getting bailouts, which Obama supported and voted for.
Big companies are controlling the marketplace, which Obamacare promises to expand.
Big companies are colluding with government, while I support making government even larger.
Big companies tell us what we can and can’t do, while I support a government doing the exact same thing.
Big companies keep us in debt, while I support a government that is keeping everyone in debt.
There’s too much money in government, while supporting a President who is promising a $1 billion re-election bid.

Fixing the Voting Process

Whether or not you like the results, it’s clear a political upheaval will happen on Tuesday. But the real question is, “Why isn’t the upheaval larger?”

Currently Congress has a 74% disapproval rating.

RCP Average
Approve 19.8
Disapprove 73.8
So, why will about 90% of people win re-election? That’s the question. Part of the problem is, of course, gerrymandering. It guarantees that most incumbents will win, as their districts are drawn to ensure their re-election. To give politicians a say in their districts is a problem. But it’s only one part of it.
Another problem we have are the “party line” voters. The ones who will only vote for an R or a D on their ballots. This tag should, of course, be removed. Make people, at the very least, remember the names of the people they are going to vote for. Reflexively voting for one party over another is not helping anyone.
In this same line, I think we should remove the incumbent tag from the ballots. This is along the same line as the party tag, but people will reflexively vote for an incumbent.  Even when Congress has a 20% approval rating; people are loathe to admit their own mistakes, thus the idea of “but my representative isn’t part of the problem” comes into play.
Finally, ballots should be randomized. If you remove the party tag and the incumbent tag, then the person in the top position of the ballot will, inevitably, win the race. Think Alvin Greene. He was on the top position of the ballot and on this merit alone, won his primary (there are other theories, but this explanation is the most common sense). Ballots should randomly position names on the ballot. This is easy with electronic voting. Paper ballots wouldn’t be much more difficult. If you have 10 candidates, then it’s not difficult to produce 10 different ballots. Maybe 11 with a “write in option” that might just default to the bottom on all the ballots.
Simple fixes that’d make the voting system a lot more honest, fair and less partisan. And none are too difficult, nor expensive, to enable.

Apocalypse Island: History Channel Should be Ashamed

So I was watching History Channel the other night and they had this 2 hour thing about Apocalypse Island. So for 2 hours, we watch these dudes talking about the Mayans and some island that is supposed to do something or other in 2012, when the world ends.

So, you have to wait an hour and a half to see this rock the guy claims the Mayans carved. It’s supposed to be a head and a lion behind it or something. But, really, it just looks like a tall rock with another one behind it. Rare! Mysterious! Never do they even talk about tool marks (are there any?) to make him think it was carved or maybe it was just a natural formation. History Channel even goes out of its way (on multiple occasions) to show the rock as this guy imagines it (a head with a lion behind it) and not even show a graphic saying this was computer generated. It doesn’t even matter that the features they claim the rocks should have don’t even fit with the way the rocks look at all. Just awful.

Then, these guys climb all over this thing. As if you’d crawl to the top of the Egyptian Pyramids without taking any care to, you know, damage them?

Then they talk about the solar eclipse in 2012 and Venus crossing in front of the Sun in 2012 as well. Both of these are visible from, you know, a ton of places on the planet. The island’s location is simply a post hoc logical fallacy on part of these idiots. No proof of any of the assertions made, but 2 hours of trying (too hard, if you ask me) to convince without any effort of evidence.

I think it’s a huge shame that the History Channel is pimping this 2012 stuff so hard. Giving credibility to guys who, for all intents and purposes, are probably crack pots. The lack of any real science done during this show, and others of the 2012 series are just awful.

Then they countdown the 13 eras of the Mayans or whatever. Saying this happened on 12th, that on the 11th, etc etc etc. Well, of course something happened on those years. It’s amazing, really. Mayans were so apt at predicting the future, you’d think they would have foresaw their own demise. Doh!

Imagine if the Mayans did carve something on Apocalypse Island, so they could see the end of the world. Then, a few years after it was done…they were like “Ah, screw it. I’m not waiting. Let’s up and vanish, instead.” The thought seems to disprove the point that the Mayans had any clue about anything.

Alvin Greene, Rocket Scientist, Senate Candidate

So that’s Senate Candidate Alvin Greene on Olbermann the other night. Wow. Ooookay.

Let’s get a few things straight. Yes, he’s obviously unprepared. One could argue he’s mentally disabled, I guess. So how did he get to be candidate for Senate in South Carolina?

First, let’s go thru the conspiracy theory that he’s a Republican plant.

Let’s assume he’s a plant. So, the GOP put this guy out there, hoping he’d get the nomination. Did the Republicans send him any money? No. Did they vote for him? No. Do the moronic Republicans even seem capable of pulling something like this off? No. The theory just doesn’t wash on any level at all.

The far more plausible theory is, is that democrat voters are mindless robots. His name was top on the ballot, given that there was no incumbent on the Democrat side. Lazy voters just picked the first name they saw and went with it. That is far more plausible than a Republican plant (and it’s not even the first time it has happened). It’s something Democrats obviously don’t want to hear – but that’s normal for them . Coming to terms with reality has never been their strong point.

So, in that light, let’s think about Clyburn’s call for an investigation into the vote. The exact same people who voted for Greene voted for Clyburn – especially in the primary. So are both results questionable, or is just Greene’s?  Are Democrats in SC simply not capable of voting properly? If so, should Clyburn’s election also be put into doubt?

Let’s take it even further. What’s so bad about Greene? He says he’s a lifelong Democrat. One would presume he’d be a reliable vote for anything he’s told to vote for. Seems to me, he’s exactly what Democrats want up there. How is he different than, say, John Kerry? Or Al Franken? His voting record would probably be near identical to theirs. He’s a perfect fit into the caucus. Just another nameless/faceless automaton in the Senate – voting for whatever he’s told to vote for. He’s the perfect distillation of what  the Democrats want – mindless, obedient, reliable, no ambition. How is he any different than, say, Cynthia McKinney? Or Maxine Waters?

Really, does it scare them that the logical conclusion of their beliefs is people like Alvin Greene? Or is it that they just don’t want him to the face of it? Why do they tolerate people like Maxine Waters? or Cynthia McKinney?

Final thought on the Olbermann interview. Did Greene really say anything more stupid than what Olbermann says on a nightly basis? Or Maddow? Or Leg Thrill Matthews?

Fan Theories That Make Movies Better

Just saw this at Cracked today and thought most of it was pretty good.

However, something stood out to me. Particularly #3.

There are a couple theories floating around here. One is that the younger brother is a mental fiction created by Elijah Wood’s narrator to cope with the abuse–it’s notable that no one except the narrator’s family interacts with the younger brother. Another theory (which even Roger Ebert suggested) is that the younger brother plummets to his death or is beaten to death by his stepfather.

I love this movie and I always assumed the child died when he rolled his radio flyer down the hill.  It’s the only way to explain the comment near the end “Now do you understand what I mean about history being in the mind of the teller?”

If the older brother, who lived, invented this memory to cover up his brothers’ death and sent cards home to try and make his mother feel better – the story is very touching, albeit very depressing as well. I think Hanks’ comment near the end makes it apparent that the younger brother died. I’m not sure how it could be read any other way. It would make no sense, in the sense of the story, that the younger brother is flying all over the world – for real. He’s dead. The older brother is just rationalizing what he’s done.

So I’m not sure I’d call this a conspiracy. More like the unspoken part of the script.

And #6, I thought “James Bond” being a code name was pretty apparent as well. Given the number of people who’ve played him over the years, it seems that  007 is his rank. In one Bond (View to a Kill, I believe), we have a 009 (who is killed), and others with 003′s (multiple 003′s are killed, I believe). And what not. So 007 is rank, James Bond is the code name of the Agent. In Casino Royale, I do not believe he is called “James Bond” until he gets promoted from 006 to 007.

It’d be smart to keep the name “James Bond” going from agent to agent. That way, if you know James Bond is after you, you’re screwed. Then again, why do the villains keep toying with him and not kill him immediately if they know who he is – the best British agent.