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2014-05-23_08-34-04  2014-05-23_08-34-36

What’s at stake, after all, is citizens’ representation in Congress. Partisan gerrymandering undermines the whole notion of a representative government. For proof, just look toward the lopsided seat distribution in the current Congress.

SOURCE:  What 60 years of political gerrymandering looks like – The Washington Post.

I don’t know if gerrymandering was a foregone conclusion when our democracy was formed. Everyone wants to take advantage of all possible means in order to win. I can imagine that in the 1950s someone with a pile of voting records and a map tried to figure out how to gain an advantage. Because the chore was almost overwhelming using the existing tools not much was able to be accomplished.

Fast forward to the computer age and gerrymandering has become an art form. Computer models are able to track almost every vote by location and draw thousands of different maps to take advantage of every single vote. Thus we see voting districts morph into what is shown above.  One of the secrets to being able to accomplish this jigsaw task is that one political party must have the power to accomplish this re-districting after it is configured and to maintain that status over a number of years.

The American obsession of winning at all costs almost dictates that these sort of things happen. To the winner goes the spoils and the spoils in our political processes amount to trillions of dollars. I have a dream that some year, probably in the very distant future, saner minds will finally prevail in this and so many other areas. When we can finally concentrate the common good and get away from the extreme partisanship of today then we might be able to accomplish things that benefit us all instead of a small segment of our society. I have a dream but unfortunately that is probably all it will ever be.

2014-02-23_10-07-01The company “unveiled” the new product in an online video this week. In the ad, which refers to the offline world as “the thing that happens when you run out of battery,” people buried in their phones have a eureka moment when an absurd red funnel is placed on their heads and they’re forced to witness sunsets and look into other human beings’ eyes.

SOURCE: Coca-Cola Social Media Guard Commercial | TIME.com.

I will admit up front there that I am not a social media junkie. I seldom go on any media site except for Facebook and that no more than a once a daily.  But this one got my attention and I am adding the YouTube version of it here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u3BRY2RF5I

Since I am deaf and as usual the video is not closed captioned I have no idea what the audio portion of this strip is but just watching the video says it all for me. We, as a society are become fixated on our social media devices.  I am one of those techies who has more than my share of devices.  I have a MacBook Air as my primary tool. I have an iPhone and now have my second version of iPad along with my third version Kindle reader.  But even with all these things they seldom take up very much of my daily life.

This video is about how we can be so addicted to our social media that we tune out almost everything else. We no longer look at the people just across the table from us. Instead we are texting or posting…  When my wife and I travel via car on our frequent, although lessening now, roadtrips I am often fixated on keeping track of where we are via GPS mapping programs.  I am more interested in what towns and features lie ahead than what is outside our window.  This fixation requires my wife to jolt me into the present once in a while.

Getting back to the video, I don’t understand how  Coca-Cola expects to sell more of their sugary drink with this ad but I do salute them for even making it.  Here is a comment attached to the source article that I find amusing and maybe even provocative.

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Protecting The State…

February 6, 2014

JeffersonBe it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship,place of ministry whatsoever….

Thomas Jefferson — An Act For Establishing Religious Freedom — 1786

From my study of Jefferson I think his separation of Church and State was more to keep the Church out of the State’s business than the other way around….

2014-01-31_08-57-01First, Google cracked the code on Internet search. Then the company used its search platform to build the world’s largest online advertising business. Now, the Silicon Valley icon is turning its attention toward streamlining its business to focus on next-generation hardware and services, particularly in the mobile space. Judging by Google’s latest earnings report, the company’s core business remains robust, as the Cupertino, Calif.-based cash machine posted strong sales and profit growth on Thursday, sending its stock price surging more than 4% in after-hours trading to an all-time high for the second consecutive quarter.

SOURCE:  Google Is Making Itself a Lot Leaner and Meaner | TIME.com.

I don’t know how many of my readers realize just how earth-shaking the search platform that Google developed was. Before that time it took sometimes hours to find some of the most basic info on the Internet.  Let’s take a quick look at what Wiki says:

Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University. Together they own about 16 percent of its shares. They incorporated Google as a privately held company on September 4, 1998. An initial public offering followed on August 19, 2004. Its mission statement from the outset was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”, and its unofficial slogan was “Don’t be evil”. In 2006 Google moved to headquarters in Mountain View, California, nicknamed the Googleplex.

Simply speaking Page and Brin made the internet what it is today. Never mind that Al Gore invented it ( :) ), they changed it from a complex military network into an everyday appliance.  For that reason I am an avid fan. Even if I don’t use their browser or some of the other tools they make available. The above article is about how they have grown in the last ten years and where they might be going in the next ten. Will they go the way of Apple or the way of Microsoft?  That is a basic question that needs to be answered and I’m sure they are very aware of that difference.

Most of us old guys, especially the techies among us, know that Microsoft and Apple  happened at about the same time. Microsoft developed a user interface that totally dwarfed the FORTRAN language that was used to program the IBM mainframes. When I was in college desktop computers were still just a dream. Even in college I realized that computers would be a big part of the future so I took a couple of classes to build an initial foundation.  I spent hours writing up a very foreign code and then typing it out on punch cards which were used to put the code in the mainframe very early the next morning. Of course there was always that one card of out hundreds that I misspelled something and therefore the whole lot was rejected.

Thanks to Google, and yes Microsoft and Apple, the initial experiences of new users are vastly different from my own.

When Will It End???

November 5, 2013

2013-11-03_08-21-41

When will we ever learn????

In case you have lost track, he is the LAX shooter. Considering there have been a couple more in the news in the last day or so I guess this is old news… How sad is that???

Shall We Celebrate the 1%?

November 3, 2013

MoneyIt continues to amaze me that there are Christians –both preachers and politicians- who seem to be much more interested in defending the honor and the interests of the very wealthy than they are to lending support to the less advantaged ones among us. Their priorities are the opposite of those reflected in scripture (James 2:1-7; 5:1-5). They will speak up for low taxes on the rich but not defend livable wages for the working poor. They will call for deregulation on businesses but not stand up for better consumer or environmental protections. They sound much more like the devotees of Ayn Rand than disciples of Jesus Christ.

SOURCE:  Craig M. Watts: Shall We Celebrate the 1%? | Red Letter Christians.

The Ayn Rand worship by many including of course Rep. Ryan who says he is Catholic greatly confuses me. Ayn Rand was an in-your-face atheist who proclaimed empathy to be one of the biggest detriments to mankind. Isn’t Jesus Christ the absolute bedrock of empathy?  How do those who call themselves conservative Christians reconcile those facts? I just don’t know….

killer drones

 

RetirementCongressional leaders are playing a dangerous game with their constituents\’ money, their livelihoods and their retirement savings. On Wednesday, all Congress did was flip over the hourglass on a game of chicken that cost our economy $24 billion and left America\’s future up in the air — and, by doing so, may cause some of our hard-earned retirement savings to disappear into it.

via Your Retirement: A Victim of the Debt Ceiling Deal – ABC News.

A Dangerous Game…

St FrancisToday (October 4), Christians around the world remember one of the great heroes of our faith, and the Pope’s namesake – Francis of Assisi. But Francesco Bernadone (Francis of Assisi), who died on October 3, 1226 must be laughing at the irony of it all.

He was one of the first critics of capitalism, one of the earliest Christian environmentalists, a sassy reformer of the church, and one of the classic conscientious objectors to war. Even though it’s hard to imagine a saint whose life is more relevant to the world we live in today, Francis was not always so popular.

Legend has it, the first time he preached at the Vatican, the pope told him to go preach to the pigs…..

 

Francis did something simple and wonderful. He read the Gospels where Jesus says, “Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor,” “Consider the lilies and the sparrows and do not worry about tomorrow,” “Love your enemies,” and he decided to live as if Jesus meant the stuff he said. Francis turned his back on the materialism and militarism of his world, and said yes to Jesus. 

One of the quotes attributed to Francis is a simple and poignant critique of our world, just as it was to his: “The more stuff we have, the more clubs we need to protect it. Be free like the lilies and the sparrows.”

SOURCE: Shane Claiborne: Remembering Francis | Red Letter Christians.

About St. Francis , Very Interesting Person…

The Deadliest Month….

October 3, 2013

ExecutionsOctober is America’s Deadliest Month of 2013

Unless we pray and work to change things, 8 people are set to be killed in October.

Marshall Gore on October 1 in Florida – KILLED LAST NIGHT BY THE STATE OF FLORIDA

Michael Yowell on October 9 in Texas

Edward Schad on October 9 in Arizona

William Happ on October 15 in Florida

Larry Hatten on October 16 in Texas

Allen Nicklasson on October 23 in Missouri

Robert Jones on October 23 in Arizona

and Arthur Brown on October 29 in Texas

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/upcoming-executions

SOURCE: Shane Claiborne: October Executions | Red Letter Christians.

Since this data directly relates to this mornings post I though I would include in a afternoon post.

Let me say up front that like Shane Claiborne who authored the above post I am pro-life.  That means I value life before it is born and after. Unlike many of my conservative friends who are only against abortion, Shane and I and millions of others don’t think that any government or any earthly body should decide who should live and who should die. That decision must be left up to God and God alone.

It is interesting to note that five of the eight executions that are scheduled this month are from Texas and Florida. Another rouge State, namely Arizona, accounts for two of the other three.  Why these three States execute several more people than the other forty-eight combined?  What is in the mentality that causes this to happen.  I would really like to know? Are the people of those States aligned with their leaders in government  in this regard and if they aren’t then why do they continue to elect them to office?

I mourn all life that is taken at the hands of men and that certainly included the victims of the above group but execution is not justice it is pure and simple revenge and the Almighty made it clear that vengeance belongs to him not us.