Saturday, February 25, 2012

First Amendment or bust

Recently in Cincinnati, Ohio, an ex-husband was ordered by a domestic relations court to apologize on his Facebook account to his ex-wife. The court ordered him to apologize for thirty consecutive days posting an apology written for him. I was immediately appalled. I couldn't believe any judge would think this punishment would be legal in itself. As it seems to us in the private sector, judges often are want to hand down rulings or judgements with whatever whims they desire. Then, I thought I would do some digging.

This flaunts nearly everything in the First Amendment, I thought. So, I researched several things on the net about the 'First'. One of the things I came across concerned libel and slander. I read several things and decided this particular magistrate must be ruling based on this section of interpretation. The problem however is courts often go back on previous decisions and rewrite them with their own interpretations. And this is in the Supreme Court. I have often failed to see how something can be ruled constitutional but then a court years later doesn't hold the same opinion. It is or it isn't. Although society's tools such as the use of the internet changes, the fundamentals don't. The biggest flaw here is the use and interpretation of whether a private person's opinion constitutes slander. Even here the courts don't always agree.

Under this situation I could understand how the magistrate could rule that an apology was in order. (The other choice he had was sixty days in jail). Although I now believe the magistrate might have been on the right track, dictating the actual apology overstepped the bounds of the court (in my opinion). In this case the court represents the government and should not be able to force/coerce any individual into saying or publishing something he doesn't believe is true. If in fact the defendant truly stated an opinion that that was not actionable, the magistrate's ruling then limits the magistrate's own voice in stating any future personal opinion about anyone he may meet in the future.

I doubt that anyone could go through life without expressing a negative opinion about another. Hope he has a stack of legal pads to write the apologies he'll need for the rest of his life, thirty days at a time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tweets and twangs

Just from the title (and those who know me or have followed this blog) I'm sure you can likely figure out where this is going to lead.

Although I don't have a Twitter account and likely never will, this ramble about Twitter is fully from the outside looking in. All I know about Twitter is what I hear on the news, radio and other social media and the internet. That means I don't follow anyone.

What I don't understand is the pull Twitter has on others. The problem with Twitter since it is limited to 140 characters is you can't speak to anything in-depth. Not everything can or should be limited to two or three sentences and either make sense or require further explanation. I'm not saying everyone should go out and blog but from what I hear of others, specifically the tweets from stars and upper-crust of society amounts to no more than things they must apologize for afterwards. You can't make very many thorough points in that short of space. What seems to be happening then is everyone is trying to deliver their best "one-liner" so followers will think they are funny or clever. That's when the apologies have to follow. "Oh, that's not what I meant, or "that was taken out of context". You can't take anything out of context if you only have 140 characters to work with. (This short post would require nine tweets to publish on Twitter).

For those reasons, Twitter will never be something I will voluntarily subscribe to. Besides, knowing when someone is going to the grocery store doesn't interest me either.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Living in a Punkin Bread World III

Ahhh, to be a child!

Recently, Punkin Bread asked her older brother, Punkin, if he wanted to play hide-and-seek. He said no, whereupon Punkin Bread covered her eyes anyway and counted up to 14. She uncovered her eyes, looked to her right and exclaimed, "I found you!"

Mind you, this game of hide-and-seek took place in the family van wherein the children were strapped into their car seats, literally inches from each other.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Attacks of randomitisness

Last night I had an attack of randomitisness. This happens to me periodically as I have complete random thoughts and then have to investigate them. I don't know if others suffer from this scourge, but it is something that I must deal with on a random and continual basis.

Last night's influx dealt with the issue of the distance of an arc-second. I know that particular word will likely keep North of 50 from reading any further as his long-ago post "What I Learned in Algebra and Geometry" shall attest. Though his knowledge of subjects is wide and varied, he's a little lax on the sciences.

Several years ago before the popular advent of GPS devices I decided to find the map co-ordinances of my home. It took some doing but I was at last able to decipher them. I used the internet to track the latitude and longitude but had to convert them to the degree, minute and second designations. Still with me North? I also sent him the location of his home which is not far from mine.

Last night, I wondered what the length of an arc-second was. For the uninitiated, if you divide the earth's circle into 360 segments, each one is a degree, hence that is what is taught in geometry. Degrees are then sub-divided into 60 parts (minutes) and those minutes to another 60 (seconds). North, wake up! The problem you run into is in dealing with longitude. As you move north or south on the globe, the distance of an arc-second decreases. (OK, I'm sure North is completely gone by now). That being said, most use the distance on the equator as the standard. To that end, the distance of an arc-second at the equator is approximately 101 feet, just in case anyone wanted to know.

N39* 55' 1"
W-82* 45' 29"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pay to play

Our local paper weekly places the best of the best in high school athletes in the sports pages. It is nice to see such recognition and I'm sure it gives the multitude of schools a little bit of bragging rights. It's also a nice clip to save for the future.

In the last few years, as we all know, high school sports has become more and more a pay to play. It can cost anywhere from a few dollars up to several hundred dollars for a teen to play the sport they love. Most think that is unfair but that is the reality of today. Some don't understand and think everything should be free. The world doesn't work that way.

Take these sports for instance. When I was an aspiring pitcher back in the day, the only varsity sports we had were the majors, football, basketball and baseball. And those were for boys only. There were the occasional volleyball sports for girls but those were still rare. In my senior year, the girls of my class won the very first girls state basketball championships. Yep, the first.

One of the reasons it costs to play is the wide variety of sports. There is now hockey, lacrosse, the three majors, volleyball, tennis, golf, swimming and still many others. That costs money folks, to pay coaches, travel from meets or matches, the various facilities to maintain or pay to use. Large swimming pools aren't cheap nor is renting them for practice or meets. Come to think of it, soccer virtually didn't exist in my high school career and it is now likely the number one participatory sport for youth today.

Budgets for schools are stretched far enough without having to pay for all these extra sports. When a school levy fails, parents are outraged when the school boards always threaten to cut sports. As much as I believe they are a necessary activity for schools, I never hear anyone complain about cutting back on math class. For too long we have put too much focus on these sports for our teens. How much more would we help them in life if we put that much focus on their homework?

I'd hate to lose them due to budget cuts, but high school sports are actually a luxury and with schools in deficit spending modes should be treated as such.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A one-way street

The blustery month of February has rolled around again and that means only one thing. We're stuck with Valentine's Day again.

Now on the surface I don't have a problem with the notion of this holiday. I love my wife and am fine with the concept of a special day for those who are 'involved'. However, you don't need to have a calendar day devoted just to that. And that goes for Sweetest Day too. Truth be told, My Beloved and I don't celebrate VDay too much as our wedding anniversary is on February 1.

The biggest problem I have with this holiday is that it has become so one-sided. Think about it. When was the last time you remember seeing a commercial or a radio spot that wasn't aimed directly at the man? Can't think of one, can ya? Nope, every man is inundated with ads for jewelry, candy, flowers and cards. Take her out to dinner and make her feel special. Well, what about us? I can't recall the last time I saw a commercial aimed at the women to make the man feel special. Ladies, go to the local hardware store and buy your guy a tool! He'll love it.

The trouble is, advertising execs are targeting the wrong person. Women do all the shopping for extraneous items such as holiday fare. Most men I know only buy when they think of something they need and the constant reminders only make us (me) aggravated. This constant prodding does little for me other than make me want to boycott you products altogether.

Come on girls, time for a manly steak dinner! (and a new tech toy)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A weighty subject

In the ever on-going play we call 'getting older', My Beloved and I have both stepped up and are trying to eat a healthier diet and lose a few extra pounds. Her office staff is doing a Biggest Loser contest. So far she is making headway with the leaders. She has also been attending an aerobics class. She is the one who inspired me to pitch in and get a little healthier.

To that end, I retired our old spring-loaded Metro scale and went out and purchased a new one. It has performed well over the years but it's time for change. As well, Ragin' Cage uses it for a bouncy toy when he brushes his teeth. The new ones's all fancy and shiny. It has the newest accoutrements such as being able to set your own height and age. All very nice but that lets you at least track your progress. I tend to think like clocks in your house, no two scales weigh someone the same. In my opinion they are at least close and you use them to calculate change rather than rely on that number as absolutely accurate.

As I excitedly unwrapped the box and read the instructions for programming, I took note of the features. You can measure weight (obviously), body fat percentage and muscle percentage. My body fat percentage was higher than I hoped. (I'll be working on that one). Then as I read on, the instructions on muscle percentage stated there are no standard guidelines for this measurement.

You're kidding, right? So I go to a handy-dandy internet search (notice I didn't say Google) and, I can find no particular guidelines for how much percentage of muscle a person should have. How is it a product touts a feature right on the front of the box that has no standard of measurement known to mankind?

Wow do I feel duped.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Suffer the children

One of the wonders of the modern age is the personal computer, and close behind is the spread of information on the internet, some of it actually useful.

I can easily confess to being ignorant as to how to write programming code and being able to solve the many riddles that come up while doing so. I am certain the techies all have their quirks, and I also believe these quirks are often expressed in the programs they write for the Great Unwashed to use.

One example I encounter on a daily basis, whether on my home pc or the one I used back in the day when I was gainfully employed, was the ever-popular Delete box for e-mails. We have all seen it, and have dumped untold thousands of e-mails into the Delete box regularly. I am certain you have seen the quirk as well: next to the Delete box is quite often a number in bold parenthesis, purporting at first glance to show the number of e-mails you have in said Delete box. Here is where the quirk comes in; that bold number actually shows the number of unread e-mails in the Delete box, not the total number of e-mails residing therein. I cannot fathom why it matters to someone, whether me or a programmer, how many unread e-mails are presently in that file. I know they are unread, because they are 99.999% spam or junk e-mails that I put in there myself, precisely because they were unwanted. I also am unsure why it would matter how many I have in there, read or unread.

I can only think a computer nerd did it simply because he is a computer nerd, and needs to get out more into the real world.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Alternate surf sounds

Sometimes we all fall into patterns and thoughts that are due solely to preferences. What do we like; what do we love? Why would someone do something like that? I just can't imagine!

I had such an experience the other day. Now, being from the midwest I do not have access to wonderful beaches and sun-filled skies during the winter months. That being said, I don't have access to wonderful beaches in the summer months either. That is the prejudice I faced while walking a long stretch of sand along the gulf shores of Florida this past week. We midwesterners suffer through the lack of sand and water all our lives. My favorite vacations and trips for that reason always are those that take me to far-away locals of sun-drenched beaches and white sands.

As My Beloved and I sauntered along one such beach on our anniversary week, we passed an older gentleman who purposefully strode by us while listening to headphones. His tanned form presented to us he likely lived here and did this often. He, as many others we passed during the week had something plugged into their ear holes. That is something I couldn't understand. Why would anyone walk along the shore and not listen to the sounds of waves rolling up to their feet?

About a half-hour later he passed us again (as you have to turn around to go back) paying no attention to us as he sang opera with a knowing voice. I guess that's as good a reason as any.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hand in Hand

There are those who walk in front of others, there are some who walk behind. I have discovered the only way to walk with the one you love is side-by-side.

Happy Twentieth Wedding Anniversary, My Beloved.