Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lights on for prosperity!

Today is some form of global warming protest crap called Earth Hour. The idea is the liberal kooks turn off their lights from 8pm to 9pm their time.

In counter protest several people (including myself) have elected to turn EVERYTHING on.

25 100 Watt light bulbs
5 computers
2 televisions
2 dvd players
2 vcrs
Heater (it’s cold outside)
2 floor fans
3 cars idling
oven cooking dinner
and 500 Christmas lights (still haven't taken them down)

And a wife that now thinks I’m insane.

Unfortunately I couldn't run the lawn mower because if you let go of the handle it turns off. Was too lazy to duct tape the safety bar closed.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Credit cards - a necessary evil?

When I was young and just considered a legal adult I made many financial mistakes. First I spent everything. Second I ran up credit cards to the point that I couldn't pay them and basically said "screw this" and walked away. Well of course that trashed my credit completely. Oh well water under the bridge.

I grew older and wiser and I said "no credit!" and dealt on a cash only basis. I still haven't been able to save money worth a damn but I'm mostly debt free. I have three current debts: my house, student loan, and a king size bed that I had to buy because my then pregnant wife wouldn't sleep in a small bed with me anymore and preferred the couch.

The house I can't do much with, but I'll post about that later. The student loan I'm paying ever so slowly down. The bed is being paid down off this hugely insane interest rate but soon as it gets below $1000 balance (maybe 3 more months) I'm paying it off in one payment. I have no other short term debts.

In the time between trashing my credit and now I have incurred no new credit except those listed above. None of them are revolving (get to this later).

So I go to refi my house and besides other problems (which I'll get into in another post) I pulled my credit score. 562. OUCH. Well that's actually good for me given that it used to be sub-400, but bad overall. Problem now isn't really past credit, problem now seems to be lack of current credit.

I've gone through my credit file and removed a few things that I have no idea where they came from. I've corrected a few other errors. I've been on time on my payments for the house, student loan and bed for one year and seven months (oldest is the house so going by when I bought it). Should note that in the seven to ten years between my credit fiasco and my buying a house I have had no credit at all, so nothing to pay on and nothing to be late on.

Using a credit simulator if I continue paying on time for another two years my credit score will go up a whopping 30 points to 592. Two years of the same for 30 points which still doesn't get me to 620+ which is what I need to refi my house.

I have no credit cards so I can't simulate paying off or paying down credit card balances. All of my previous credit card experiences have dropped off my report so can't do anything there either.

Using the same credit simulator I find that if I get a credit card of ANY amount my credit score instantly goes up by 10 points (probably because of a new account).

My theory is that if I get a card and make the payments on it for 24 months then my credit score should be right about 602, probably more for the new credit showing paid on time and all.

Dangerous but seems like right now it has to be done unfortunately. The other unfortunate thing is that with a credit score of 562 that limits me to those lamer secured credit or high up front fee cards. Ug.

I hate credit but thanks to credit availability cars and houses cost more then they should, and without credit apparently you aren't getting a house refinanced.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Police and Criminals in an arms race.

As an object lesson today on the liberal anti-gun media read this news story:

Police race to match criminals' firepower, Congress owns blame

I've talked about other disinformation put out by anti-gunners before.

In the article above the author makes such claims as "More and more police departments now arm patrol officers with military-style weaponry that can match criminals' firepower and even penetrate body armor....the lawmen had warned Congress and President Bush about this very problem in 2004 as they tried in vain to be heard over the pro-gun drumbeat of the National Rifle Association."

The author quotes Police Chief Scott Knight as saying "the firearms of choice for terrorists, drug dealers, gang members and thugs will be back on our streets where once again our officers will be outgunned by criminals.'', then adds "That has come to pass."

Well no it hasn't. Even during the so called "assault weapons ban" the bad guys still got the weapons. In particular this article mentions the West Hollywood Bank Robbery of 1997: "Los Angeles police learned the danger of being outgunned by criminals wearing body armor in 1997, when 11 officers were injured, plus two civilians, in a gun battle with two bank robbers." Well the problem that the author neglected to mention was that incident happened DURING the 1994 to 2004 assault weapons ban. Not to mention that the bank robbers were using fully automatic rifles that have been previously "banned" under a 1984 law.

Early in the article though is the real kicker in the liberal anti-gun bias. The author writes: "Last year saw the largest number of police officers killed on duty in five years, with 69 shot to death" alluding that they were killed by assault weapons (that's what the article is about of course), but doesn't mention the statistical breakdown.

With a simple google search (but I'll save you the trouble) we find this document: Law Enforcement Officer Deaths, 2007. On page four we find that Assault Weapons account for exactly 1 of those 69 deaths. Hand guns account for 51 of the police deaths. I'm not for banning hand guns either because we already know that banning them just makes it so law abiding citizens are defenseless.

Again the liberal anti-gun media misrepresent evidence for their own agenda of taking guns away from the populace. No good has ever come from disarming the law abiding people.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

DC v Heller

Oral arguements in DC v Heller are finished.

Transcript available here at the Supreme Court website.

After listening to the audio I expect a 6-3 decision in favor of Heller.

DC v Heller

The scene in front of the Supreme Court today. The line started forming at 5:35pm on Sunday March 16...two days ago.

Oral arguments are today. Update links as audio feed becomes available.

Opinion expected in June sometime.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Gary Gygax dies.

Though I never met the man, one of the major influences in my life passed away Tuesday March 4, 2008.

Gary Gygax was the inventor of the pen and paper game system called Dungeons and Dragons.

I can't remember who or how I got introduced to Dungeons and Dragons but I remember it was around eleven or twelve years old. I remember sitting around my parents kitchen table with a few friends with a giant pile of dice, papers, pencils, books and our imaginations. I didn't realize back then how much of an influence those 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20 sided dice would have on me all the way to even today.

It wasn't until last year that I finally decided to retire my old pen and paper games because I hadn't picked up the dice for so long and had lost contact with the people I played with regularly. It was a sad day and still occasionally I look at where they used to be on my shelves and think fondly, those were good times.

Gaming for me was like imagining I was part of a story book, instead of simply reading a book. Through gaming, and the progression of pen and paper to computer, I've fought dragons, fought evil, piloted star ships, lived after nuclear war, rescued towns, saved the world, and even witnessed the destruction of worlds (Final beta of Asheron's Call closed with a comet smashing into the planet). We've only been limited by what our imagination (and sometimes programming skills) have been able to conjure up.

Through D&D I was introduced to even more books to read. Two of my favorite book series of all time, Dragonlance Chronicles and Dragonlance Legends were based on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. I still have the annotated editions with the three books of the trilogies bound together on my bookshelves.

One thing about AD&D and other pen and paper games that a lot of people didn't realize is that we gamers crossed social boundaries to find new players. I remember the geeks and the nerds mixing with the jocks and preps at gaming sessions. People that weren't allowed to even talk to each other at school were sitting at the same table having a great time and cooperating in something that seemed bigger then themselves.

I remember the "great purge" I call it. The 700 club featured D&D saying it was satanic and crap like that. Eventually my church also apparently made some statement against it because my parents went through all my gaming stuff looking for things bad about it. I don't think it was ever actually my church but more like a few of the

It was a tough time for an early teenager (I had to be thirteen to fifteen) to defend his hobby and friendships to his parents, a church, and even schools got into it. Movies were made about the dangers of D&D. All because a small troubled few had problems and the finger pointing went to D&D. Us gamers in our own way knew that it was probably D&D that had kept them sane and kept him socially aware and active. I defended my choices to my parents fine btw, but it still felt like we had to take our gaming underground. My school for example still banned D&D and any pen and paper games.

It was because of Gary Gygax and D&D that I first learned that everyone at one time has to stand up for what they think is right, and stand against what they think is wrong. At fifteen I stood against my parents, the school, and my church against what I thought was wrong in the mistaken believe that Dungeons and Dragons is a bad influence. I saw it as learning cooperation, fair play, sportsmanship, imagination, problem solving, and fun...among many others.

I remember getting up early one Saturday morning to go to my first gaming convention. Hundreds of people from all age groups, all races, and all social classes game together just to play their various pen and paper games. And we were all equals, gathered together by our mutual interests and hobbies. We weren't forced to be together, we chose to be together.

It was through these pen and paper games that I was introduced to computer gaming. I had been around computers because my Dad worked with them, but not really for games. It was a fellow RPG player that introduced me to his C-64 collection of various games. From there I amassed a large collection myself.

Then Microsoft took hold and I got myself a PC just for the new games available. That led to learning DOS so I could install and play the new games...most of the computer version of RPG's that wouldn't have existed without Gary Gygax. There was too many to list or remember, but one in particular was Ultima.

Eventually the Ultima Legacy came to it's height with Ultima Online...the first of what would soon be many Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG). And I've played most of them, including the current World of Warcraft the first officially mainstream computer RPG with over 10 million US subscribers. That is more subscribers then some of the highest rated network televisions shows get.

It was through pen and paper role playing that I had met my closest friends and even some of my closest girlfriends. I don't remember any girlfriend that didn't at minimum pick and and play a game system (nes, snes, playstation, etc) lasting for more then a month or so.

My wife is a computer gamer. We didn't meet through gaming, but it is one of the mutual interests that we have. My daughter will be a computer gamer. I know that as even at four months I have a hard time keeping her away from my keyboard if I'm holding her at my computer.

Because of MMORPG's I've "met" people all over the world that I would not have met otherwise. I remember late one night playing Harpoon Online (now defunct) against a fellow in Russia. I played the Russians and he played USA. I consider myself friends with many of those I've "met" even though I've only communicated with them via game chat or occasionally voice chat.

I didn't care what race, creed, religion, age, social class, or anything. We were all equals, gathered together by our mutual interests and hobbies.

I never met the man, but I am who I am in large part due to Gary Gygax. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Boise at High Risk for Bioterrorism? Say what?

According to a study out of the University of Arizona, Boise, Idaho has a higher risk of bioterrorism then cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, San Fransisco, and lots of other cities.

Sure New York also is high risk, but Boise, Idaho? Come on. I could understand if other cities larger then us were at risk but Boise at risk and not them? That just doesn't make any sense to me at all.

The article put out by Science Daily doesn't help much to shed light on the subject as to why my home town is considered high risk for terrorism.

I guess it's really time to stock up on emergency supplies and food storage. Oh and always more ammo.

Definitely flawed data or the research just through a whole bunch of crap that he guessed on into a computer program and it spit out this obviously flawed map.

Boise? The only thing at high risk west of Texas is Boise?

What a joke.