Geeky Bob

Just a short, simple blog for Bob to share his thoughts.

Be sure to check out my technical blog at www.microsoftbob.com.

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Atheist Prayer Warriors

Did you ever notice how many atheists are actually the fiercest prayer warriors?

Every time they declare, "GD this!" or "GD that!," they are - in fact - calling on a God whom they claim does not exist to intervene on their behalf.

The tragic part about this fact is that in so doing they are praying more times per day than most Christians.

Posted: Mar 30 2018, 02:04 by Bob | Comments (0)
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We Are a Nation of Immigrants

Living in a border state, I am constantly reminded of the need for immigration. Here in Tucson, we see the myriad of ways which immigration has shaped the culture; our entire Southwest identity is a melting pot of Hispanic, Native American, and Old West subcultures. But if you would permit me to put things in perspective, unless you are 100% Native American, then you are either an immigrant or the descendant of immigrants. For example, my ancestors were immigrants: my father's family arrived from Ireland in 1858 as refugees of the Great Famine, and the patriarch of my mother's family travelled to the fledgling American Colonies as an indentured servant in 1807.

No person of European, Asian, Latin American, or African descent can lay claim to native status in North America; (although if you go back as far as possible, even the ancestors of the 'Native Americans' migrated from somewhere else). Nevertheless, it pains me to see people who suggest that we should close our borders. To do so would be ludicrous; immigration has been and always will be the lifeblood of the United States.

However, immigration must be a legal process, and those who do not adhere to the letter of the law must not be allowed to continue residing here. To be fair, the United States' path to citizenship is long and difficult, but that is no excuse for violating the laws by which our nation is governed.

For those people who insist on incorrectly labeling illegal immigrants as undocumented workers, I would like to redirect your attention to an analogy that I saw the other day:

  • If you are of legal age and driving a car with your driver’s license in your pocket, then you are a legal driver.
  • If you are of legal age and driving a car but you forgot your driver’s license at home, then you are an undocumented driver.
  • If you are not of legal age or you do not have a driver’s license, then you are an illegal driver.

Make no mistake about this: if someone enters the United States by anything other than legal means, then they are not undocumented, they are here illegally, and they have no legal right to remain here. However, if someone if someone enters the United States using any of the methods prescribed in our nation’s laws, then they are here legally, and from my perspective they are more than welcome to stay.

My son-in-law was born in Canada, and over the course of several years I watched as he navigated the steps to citizenship. I can tell you with complete honesty that many of the setbacks that he faced were ridiculous and unnecessary; for example: after years of work on his application for citizenship, someone simply failed to sign one document in my son-in-law's paperwork, (which is easy to do when you are dealing with hundreds of documents). When the mistake was discovered, common sense dictates that the single document would be returned for the appropriate signature. However, the United States government is apparently incapable of using common sense, and it rejected the entire packet, so my son-in-law was forced to restart the entire process. As I said earlier, the United States' path to citizenship is long and difficult, but my son-in-law persevered, and this past year I was privileged to attend his citizenship ceremony.

That being said, while the bureaucratic process should certainly be improved with regard to efficient process management, the need for a detailed and lawful path to citizenship is still required. For example, background checks are necessary to ensure that immigrants are not criminals escaping prosecution in their native countries, and basic health checks are required to ensure that other countries are not simply reducing the burdens on their civic responsibilities by relocating their infectious populace across our borders. Once immigrants have passed the basic checks set forth by our laws, I see no problem with making the path to citizenship a much-easier process than our nation currently possesses.

If I suddenly became emperor for a day, I would revamp our immigration system as follows:

  • First, I would announce a temporary amnesty period, where everyone within our shores who is currently residing here illegally has five years to voluntarily report to the United States Immigration Naturalization Services (INS).
  • Because of this temporary amnesty period, everyone who voluntarily reports to INS will be automatically granted work visas for the duration of the amnesty period, after which they will be required to renew their visas, (which should be an easy process).
  • Those who do not report to INS during the temporary amnesty period will be subject to deportation, and possibly barred from applying for work visas or entry into the United States in the future.
  • And lastly, the path from worker to citizen would be revamped so that productive immigrants will have a much-easier process to complete in order to remain in the United States indefinitely as full citizens.

Believe me, it's a good thing that I'm not emperor, but that being said - I am not alone in my desire to see our system of immigration preserved and legally enforced; here are like-minded thoughts from several former United States Presidents from throughout our nation’s history:

  • "Even as though we are a nation of immigrants, we're also a nation of laws. Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and they must be held accountable." Barack Obama
  • "Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans - liberty-loving risk takers in search of an ideal - the largest voluntary migrations in recorded history... Immigration is not just a link to America's past; it's also a bridge to America's future." George W. Bush
  • "We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years and we must do more to stop it." Bill Clinton
  • "Why don't we work out some recognition of our mutual problems; make it possible for [immigrants] to come here legally with a work permit, and then while they're working here and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they want to go back, they can go back." Ronald Reagan
  • "The [United States]  flourished because it was fed from so many sources - because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples." Lyndon B. Johnson
  • "Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life." John F. Kennedy
  • "Remember, remember always, that all of us, you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists." Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • "We came to America, either ourselves or in the persons of our ancestors, to better the ideals of men, to make them see finer things than they had seen before, to get rid of the things that divide and to make sure of the things that unite." Woodrow Wilson
  • "Born in other countries, yet believing you could be happy in this, our laws acknowledge, as they should do, your right to join us in society, conforming, as I doubt not you will do, to our established rules. That these rules shall be as equal as prudential considerations will admit, will certainly be the aim of our legislatures, general and particular." Thomas Jefferson
  • "I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong." George Washington

In closing, I think the following quotation from Ronald Reagan sums up what it means to be an immigrant to the United States:

"I received a letter just before I left office from a man. I don't know why he chose to write it, but I'm glad he did. He wrote that you can go to live in France, but you can't become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Italy, but you can't become a German, an Italian. He went through Turkey, Greece, Japan and other countries. But he said anyone, from any corner of the world, can come to live in the United States and become an American."

Posted: Jan 16 2018, 04:49 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Earth, Wind, and Spirals

Is it just me, or is watching the wind patterns on https://earth.nullschool.net/ oddly mesmerizing?

earth-nullschool-net

Posted: Jan 02 2018, 15:55 by bob | Comments (0)
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Saying Goodbye to an Old, Trusted Friend...

I was going through some boxes recently, where I discovered the following book…

Natural History Book

My parents gave me this book in the early 1970s when I was eight years old, and I carried that book everywhere. Way back then, my life’s ambition was to become a paleontologist, and this book had some excellent chapters on dinosaurs which I read over and over again.

However, my copy of this book was definitely showing its 45 years of age; it’s binding had worn away to nothing, countless pages were torn… even though I didn’t check, I’m pretty sure that some pages were missing. There is no doubt – this was a well-loved volume of knowledge back in its day; but now it was little more than a shadow of its former self, and a sad relic of days gone by.

Natural History Book

Still, though, it’s amazing the history through which this book persisted in my personal (albeit negligent) care… when I received this book as a gift, Richard Nixon was President of the United States, the average price for a gallon of gasoline was 39 cents, the United States was still embroiled in the waning years of the Vietnam War, Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon, and the biggest single of the year was “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” by Tony Orlando and Dawn.

Nevertheless, this compendium of natural history knowledge had outlived its usefulness several years ago, and it was time to say goodbye. So with a heavy heart I unceremoniously dispatched my once-faithful companion to the recycle bin, where I hope that some part of it might wind up as another book which will spark another child’s imagination in decades to come. Or perhaps that’s just what I tell myself in order to feel a little less guilty…

Sad smile

Posted: Jul 14 2017, 03:25 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Why I Fail To Understand Women

No woman in her right mind would want to be called a "Cow," and yet so many women shop at a place called the "Dress Barn."

This makes no sense to me... Open-mouthed smile

Posted: May 24 2017, 04:03 by bob | Comments (0)
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Sometimes the Deeper Meaning is Missed

I just read the following article about Hasbro's desire to modernize the playing pieces for its best-selling game Monopoly:

Will the shoe get the boot? Board game fans to vote on next Monopoly tokens

The article was amusing for me to read, and I was reminded of the many years throughout which I have played that game with family and friends.

To be honest, despite my admitted sense of nostalgia where this game is concerned, I couldn't care less whether Hasbro decides to update the game tokens; this change will not affect how the game is played, and it might help to attract a new generation of players. I am certainly not one of those people who feels honor-bound to voice their opinion that everything should remain the way that it was in the past.

However, there is one point that the article's author has completely missed: the playing piece in question is not a "shoe," it is a "boot," and the distinction - however small it may seem - is somewhat profound.

A shoe is just that - nothing more. But the boot has a subtle, underlying meaning which most people do not see. When you look at the boot, it has a small loop on the back, which is called a "bootstrap." It is from this appendage on a boot that the English language obtains the word "bootstrapping," which means to "pull one's self up from their current position;" in other words, to take charge of your destiny and to make your life better. This is one of the main points in Monopoly; all of the players are attempting to pull themselves up from their common, humble beginnings, to build their respective real estate empires, and to crush their competition.

The entire principle of the game of Monopoly is condensed into that single playing piece, and it represents one of the deepest metaphors in any board game. However, Hasbro might replace the boot with a T-Rex, which represents... um, let's see... a dinosaur... which is a metaphor for... well, I guess... nothing more than an old, dead, bird-like reptile.

Posted: Jan 10 2017, 15:23 by bob | Comments (0)
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Manhood Explained with Muffins

Sitting by a pool today, I have decided that there are several seasons in each man's life which can best be summed up in the following manner:

  • Mini-Muffin
  • Stud-Muffin
  • Muffin-Top
  • Stale-Muffin

(PS - You'll thank me for not including photos to illustrate my point.)

Posted: Mar 18 2016, 08:20 by Bob | Comments (0)
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My Thoughts about the New Star Trek Beyond Trailer

As a long-time Star Trek fan, I watched this newly-released trailer for the latest installment in the rebooted Star Trek franchise with a great deal of anticipation:

Star Trek Beyond - Trailer (2016) - Paramount Pictures
http://youtu.be/XRVD32rnzOw

This trailer brings up an interesting point: I once read that all good science fiction must challenge something and/or push society to be better, which is why all of the individual Star Trek television series dealt with issues of war, morality, science/technology, racism, power struggles, etc. If you go back to classic Science Fiction like Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, etc., they all challenged similar subjects.

However, the most-recent Star Trek movies have not challenged much of anything; they are simply action flicks. At the moment this latest movie seems more like it's going to be "The Fast and the Furious with Aliens." That might not be so bad if all you're interested in is two hours of mindless fight scenes, chase scenes, and sex scenes, but that's not good "Science Fiction" in the traditional sense.

So at the moment I am unsure about this upcoming Star Trek movie; I will have to wait until next year to know how it turns out.

 


June 22, 2016 Update: I found the following article rather insightful about what makes good Science Fiction:

10 Laws of Good Science Fiction10 Laws of Good Science Fiction

While I realize that true creativity follows no rules and knows no boundaries, I still agree with a lot of what that article has to say.

Posted: Dec 14 2015, 02:01 by bob | Comments (0)
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The Power of Positive Thinking

I saw a would-be motivational poster today with the following quote from Norman Vincent Peale: "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

I don't mean to be nitpicky, but if you fall short of the moon, you're still going to be light years away from the stars, although you can ardently admire them as you burn up on re-entry.

But if you really miss the moon, and by that I mean hideously overshooting your intended target to an exponential degree, your long-dead corpse might one day make it to the stars, although that will still be thousands of years after you choked to death due to lack of oxygen.

Posted: Nov 25 2015, 06:23 by bob | Comments (0)
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Stop the Domino Effect of Overreacting

Like many people last week, I was appalled when I read about the treatment of 14-year-old high school student Ahmed Mohamed in Irving, Texas. Ahmed was arrested for bringing what several people thought was a "hoax bomb" to school, despite his repeated assertions that it was simply a clock which he had invented. When I was Ahmed's age, I loved tinkering with electronics, and I brought my own creations to school several times, so I was understandably incensed when I read about Ahmed's plight.


CPY-VC-W8AUnJ1w

However, there is a big difference between what Ahmed claims to have done and what he actually did. Ahmed did not - in fact - build a clock from scratch. As multiple websites and YouTube videos have shown, all Ahmed did was remove an existing clock from its plastic case and mount the unmodified electronics inside a pencil box. As someone who actually built things from scratch when I was Ahmed's age, this was insulting to me, because it means that Ahmed is a fraud. While his motives are unclear, the fact is undeniable that Ahmed actually did bring a hoax to school; but he didn't bring a hoax bomb, he brought a hoax invention.

As I looked at photos of the clock which Ahmed was supposed to have built, I couldn't see where he had done anything to merit "inventiveness." The jumble of wires appeared largely intact to me; the only thing which seemed out of place was the 9V battery connector, so I wondered if Ahmed had soldered a battery connector to the main board after the transformer in order to allow the clock to work when it wasn't plugged into the wall. If so, that would have been a cool idea. But my theory proved untrue when it was later revealed that the 9V connector was the built-in battery backup for the clock memory in the event of a power failure. So once again, Ahmed appears to have done nothing to warrant all of his new-found fame and accolades. (By the way, what is truly embarrassing about this situation is that Make Magazine, which is one of my favorites, completely failed to notice that Ahmed did not actually build his own clock. That's a really big fail, guys. You should have known better.)

I realize that everyone who pursues a career in electronics has to start somewhere, and the disassembly of an existing electronic product is the perfect place for Ahmed (or anyone else) to start. When I was a teenager, I was an avid electric guitar player, so I started out with electronics by taking apart existing guitar effects to see how they worked. When I didn't understand something, I went to the library to check out books about electronic theory, and I dutifully studied the subjects which were foreign to me. Eventually I moved on to repairing other people's broken guitar effects, and finally I moved on to building guitar effects from scratch. (Craig Anderton was my hero.) So when I brought a creation to school, it was something which I had actually created. But even more than that, when I was a little older than Ahmed I actually created a digital clock from scratch by wiring together all of the parts by hand. That is a far cry from what Ahmed did; Ahmed took someone else's work, slapped his name on it, and asked to be recognized as its creator. What Ahmed has done constitutes fraud. Period.

Nevertheless, even though Ahmed is a phony as an inventor, at least in this situation, he probably did not deserve to have been arrested for bringing his hoax invention to school. I will admit that the jumble of wires and the large LED screen certainly resembles a bomb which you might see on a low-budget television show, so I should at least acknowledge the good intentions of the safety-minded school officials who thought the situation was worth investigating. (Note: Can you imagine the uproar if a student had actually brought a bomb to school and the school officials did nothing about it?)

However, once the facts of the matter were made clear and everyone knew that Ahmed had not actually brought a bomb to school, the academic and police officials overreacted, and Ahmed was humiliated as he was handcuffed and paraded before his peers as he was led away by the police.

But the overreactions didn't stop there, because everyone in the community - myself included - quickly overreacted to show our support for Ahmed. Many people were angry at the close-mindedness of the investigating officials; we all wanted to take this young David's side as he took on the Goliath of insensitivity. "@IStandWithAhmed" and "#IStandWithAhmed" became instant Twitter sensations. Mark Zuckerberg invited Ahmed to drop by Facebook for a meeting. Microsoft sent Ahmed a treasure trove of goodies to encourage his inventiveness. The Google Science Fair invited Ahmed to drop by and bring his clock. And President Obama asked Ahmed to bring his clock to the White House.

I have come to realize that these overreactions are equally as wrong as the original overreactions by the school officials; perhaps even more so - because Ahmed is being heavily rewarded for being a charlatan. Everyone needs to step back and think about this for a second: if Ahmed brought his clock to Facebook or the Microsoft Garage or the Google Science Fair, he would be a laughingstock, because his "invention" is a fake. When Ahmed is done being praised by the press and exalted by social media for being the underdog in this story, sooner or later he will have to stand in a room surrounded by people his age (or older) who are actually creating cool things from scratch. When that happens, Ahmed desperately needs have something better to show than an off-the-shelf digital clock that he stuffed into a pencil box, because real teenage inventors will immediately identify him as an imposter.

So I have changed my opinion in this matter from being upset over Ahmed's treatment by the authorities to being upset over Ahmed's treatment by the community, because we are rewarding his dishonesty. If Ahmed had copied the answers for an exam from one of his classmates, everyone would immediately recognize him as a cheater. Yet that is essentially what Ahmed is doing with his clock; he is taking someone else's creation and claiming to have created it, and therefore he is being deliberately deceitful. And through our collective overreactions our country is sending a terrible message to the youth of Ahmed's generation: "If you lie to America, not only will you get away with it, but you'll win big prizes and get an invitation to meet the President."

Posted: Sep 21 2015, 06:45 by bob | Comments (1)
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