Featured Quote

In 1913, Henry Ford wrote the following as the directors had been reaping the rewards of profits - "The wages we pay are too small in comparison with our profits. I think we should raise our minimum pay rate".

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Vista Print Yard Sign Tutorial

How to make a Vista Print Yard sign

Step one - go to Vista Print's Yard Sign page (Click Here)
  "Browse our Designs" is already selected.


Step two - pick a size by selecting the circle next to 'small' or 'large'
  Click Continue.

Step three - Select design.  I selected the "Phone / Other * Company Name * company message" design with the blue frame for this tutorial.






Step four - fill in the text you want :
    Click Next.

Step five - Click Edit on the 'other back side options'
  It should show the same design for the back.  Click Next.

Step six - Check the box beside 'I have reviewed and approve my design' and then click Next.

Step seven - You can sign in, create an account or click "Continue as Guest"

Step eight - Select your quantity - whatever you can afford or are willing to spend.

  Click Continue.

Step nine - Click the circle beside the free stand (or not, up to you.)

Step ten - Click "Go to Cart" to skip the offers for more stuff to buy.

Step eleven - Review the cart and click Check Out and pay.  The sign should be on the way!

I will be offering a custom design a little bit later.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Confederate Flag

I grew up seeing the Southern Cross confederate flag (a stretch of one of many confederate flags) as a symbol of Southern Pride, doing the right thing, having a little fun - and the Dukes of Hazzard kind of good ole boys - never meaning no harm.  For me, and many poor white folk in the south, it did not mean racism.  It meant having a little pride when there was not much to be proud of.  "We may have been beat, but we're not beaten."  A symbol of "when you get knocked down, stand right back up!"

Now, I realize that all the talk about the Civil War was fought over State's Rights and Taxes and other stuff is, although founded in some actual issues of the time, just not really the case.  Slavery was the cause for the Southern states.
"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun." - from A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.
 That reality was, and is, hard to come to terms with.  It goes against what I believed growing up, what I was told and taught.

The same with the Confederate Flag - the Southern Cross flag, which is a stretched out version of the battle flag of Virginia. We didn't see it as meaning what it does to so many.  Coming to terms with the fact that it DOES represent Hate, Racism and Terror for a very large number of people was difficult.  It is used by the KKK - a white christian hate group.  It was created for that exact reason - to instill terror in people of color.  For many people, it brings up images of burning crosses in yards, white hoods with weapons in hand, nooses, lynchings.  The Southern Cross flag is to people of color what the Swastika is to the Jewish people.  They are often waved together!

Knowing what it means to people of color, I can no longer imagine that it is anything but a symbol of terror.  It has been hard losing what I thought it was... what it meant to me.  But I could no more fly or defend the Southern Cross any more than I could fly or defend the Nazi flag.

Getting other people who grew up like I did to see that, to realize the facts and to support removing the flag from state flags and stop flying it or wearing it - that is going to be hard.  You have to realize that for many of them it really does not represent slavery and hate.  It represents at least a little something to be proud of, resilience, heritage, not being held down - hope.  Destroying the symbols of people's childhoods doesn't make for a good basis for building relationships.

It is hard to realize that when you fly the Southern Cross flag, you are, even inadvertently, supporting things like this:



On the other side, it is important to realize that the Confederate Flag does represent Heritage and Southern Pride to a lot of people who are not racist.  If you are looking to change hearts and minds, then desecrating memorials and graves is not the way to go about it.  It would be better to help people realize what the flag means to those who have been terrorized by people waving it.  Help people realize that just because they think of it one way, doesn't mean that other people see it the same way - and that sometimes it is worth giving up a symbol in order to not cause distress to others.

There are good people who really do not realize what the flag symbolizes for people of color.  Losing a beloved reminder of their childhood, a piece of their pride, an image of resilience, is not going to be easy.

It can't be about what race has to be humble and apologize for past behavior.  It has to be about coming to terms with the past, coming to an understanding of how things are and working together to move forward.

... on "how things are"... It doesn't take much to see that harsh laws are applied differently to black people than they are to white people.  The question is how to stop it!  From the obscene treatment of the Scott Sisters to the unequal application of Stand Your Ground, the ... the bullshit is systemic. Poor white people are often victims of our blatantly corrupt legal system, but not as often or too the same degree.

When we come to the realization that our we are not actually that different, that "Race" is propaganda, segregating ourselves based on the color of our skin is just plain silly and start to join together against the injustices that harm us all - that is when we start to make a difference.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

On Poverty

WARNING: Very disjointed post.  Inspired by a meme featuring a quote from Bernie Sanders about poverty and comments from facebook.

One reply to this was : "Three solutions. Finish school. Wait until you're married to have kids. Get a job, any job. Problem solved."

Of course, many people don't have access to the education they need to realize that there are options other than the living situation in which they are growing up. With conservatives refusing sex education, the 'wait till married' is not working out. And 'get a job' is not as easy as it sounds, even with school. 'Any job' will also not solve the problem of child poverty and hunger.

I firmly believe we need to invest in education - especially in lower-income, poverty-ridden areas - and have classes dedicated to teaching kids how to be productive members of society. If you think those are things to learn from the parents, then you are a very privileged. Those are things that privileged kids learn from their parents and are things that many kids never have access to. From getting and keeping a job to how to manage finances, credit, etc. That there are options to working at wal-mart or getting a job at the factory and living in a trailer for the rest of your life. How can a parent teach things the parent does not know?

I know it is hard for the privileged to realize that not everyone has the opportunity and education they did. That 'motivated and willing' are not always enough to overcome a bad situation. For many, many people growing up in generations of poverty, we are going to have to teach them that there is another way of life that they can have access to, because otherwise, they will always think that the way they are living is 'just the way things are.'

I have began to see that many people have little to no will (not sure if that is the proper term) of their own. They go wherever they feel expected to go, do whatever they are expected to do or told to do. That is the norm. That is why occupation names became surnames. The baker's kids became bakers, so the family became The Bakers. Taylor, Shoemaker, LeForge, Parker, Cook, Smith, Farmer - just a few more examples of Family Occupation surnames.
That is why the children of poor people tend to remain poor. The information and knowledge that there is another option is not often made available. Even when it is, the confidence and drive is often overwhelmed by their situation long before it can be utilized. Add to that the weight of hunger, hopelessness and desperation, most people are crushed before they have a chance to achieve more. Upward mobility is harder that ever. The poor parents don't have the contacts to get their kids special treatment that more connected parents often do. Many don't even know what opportunities exist nor how to get access to them. If they parents don't know, how can the kids ever know?

Another problem comes in when bad people learned to take advantage of people's lack of self awareness and willpower. Advertising. You see something enough times, some people are convinced despite all evidence to the contrary. (see the effects of Fox News)

The best thing we can do to help people not be dependent on welfare is to provide adequate Education, Food, Housing, Transportation and Training - and awareness that options are available. In conjunction with reigning in rampant profiteering, wage inequality and corporate malfeasance (like not paying living wages, overcompensating executives, tax evasion, etc.), we could have a very healthy economy.

Extreme Conservatives want to throw everyone to the wolves and create some Beyond Thunderdome world where the rich and powerful rule by force. Conservatives refuse to educate anyone whose family doesn't already have a lot of money. Extreme Liberals want to give handouts to everyone who shows a need. Republicans want to shred the constitution and create an Theocratic Oligarchy in it's place, Democrats seem to want to be Republican Lite.

I just want Freedom and Justice for All. A big part of that is Freedom of Information - which to me means education, awareness of options and opportunity.

We should require money management courses for all those on welfare, those who file bankruptcy and those on unemployment. If you get state-funded support, you get the training to help you not need it. For those on welfare, they should also get life lesson courses - rich dad, poor dad kind of things and basic life skills - how to get along in the workplace, how to find a job, how to find training, how to get access to training, how to make contacts and nurture business relationships. Many people never get that kind of information.

I wish I had the money and contacts to start a training program....

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Freedom of Speech - You apparently don't understand it.

The First Amendment is often cited.  Most often, it is used improperly.  I am going to make an effort to explain what the First Amendment means when it talks about Free Speech.

First off, the "Freedom of Speech" is not absolute.  It does not give you the right to say anything you want, any time you want, any where you want.  It does not protect you from the non-governmental consequences of your speech.

The right of Free Speech does not mean that you can say "Bless You" in the middle of class during school hours.  It surely does not mean that you can then proceed to start an argument with your teacher in the middle of class and suffer no repercussions.

The only thing that the right to free speech affords you is that the government can not arrest you for simply saying something.  Teachers can tell you not to talk in class unless called upon - including not saying "Bless You" when someone sneezes.  Rules of the class.  Police can open an investigation on you for saying something like "I want to kill the president" or "My heroin supplier was late, so I shot him and took all his stash."  You can be arrested for shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater or bar - if anyone hears you and a stamped occurs because you scared everyone - and fined for damages.

People are completely free to stop buying your products or shopping at your store because of anything you said that they didn't like.  Your employer may fire you for saying bad things about the company.

Your right to free speech has other limits as well. You can't claim free speech when standing outside a classroom yelling the script to Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail.  You are free to speak that somewhere else, like a public park.  However, if you start doing that in a grocery store, they are totally free to kick you out.

Your right to Speak Freely is only protected from excessive suppression and obstruction by the Government.  Freedom of Speech does not protect you from the social and civil consequences of what you have said.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Visual Studio Project Disappeared!

I worked on a Visual Studio 2012 project pretty much all day yesterday.  It was a Visual Basic .Net project.
I saved frequently.  I debugged.  I ran the project.

Overnight, windows updates (I am assuming) rebooted the system and, this morning - no more project. Gone.  Nowhere (normal) to be seen.  Apparently, I did not "save all" or save the project itself.  So all that work and testing disappeared.

I googled.  Nothing I found turned out to be helpful or if it seemed helpful, turned out to be untrue.  I panicked!  All that work gone - I saved!!!  What the Funk!?!?!

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/zainnab/archive/2010/06/30/autorecover-vstipenv0019.aspx <-- No help.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/hh848072(v=vs.85).aspx <-- No help.
https://www.piriform.com/recuva/download <-- No help.
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/saraford/archive/2008/02/14/did-you-know-where-visual-studio-saves-auto-recovered-files-in-the-case-of-an-unexpected-shutdown-151.aspx <-- No help!!

"C:\Users\MyUserID\Documents\Visual Studio 2012\Backup Files"  had MyProject folder.  It was empty.

I cursed and searched, and cursed and searched... and then I found it:

"\\localhost\c$\Users\MyUserID\AppData\Local\Temporary Projects\MyProject" - it was all there!

I copied the folder to my documents.  Then I copied the folder to my visual basic projects folder and opened the solution file.  It is all there!  Whew!

Why the \\localhost\c$ ?  Well, I am on windows 8.1 and the "Previous Versions" tab is gone from File Explorer, but you can get to it using UNC to your own machine.  Silly, I know.

I hope this helps someone else find their hard work that a stupid thing from Microsoft caused them to loose.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Religious Freedom, Not the Christian Religion

Its been said, many times, many ways, but again...

"Under God" was added to the Pledge in 1954, some sixty two years after it was written.  God in Government was not part of our Nation when it was founded - quite the opposite.  The Founders set our government up as being only about civil and common issues, leaving religion up to the individual.

It took the Civil War to allow the theocrats to insert "In God We Trust" onto coins, breaking a barrier our constitution had set up.  Note that it was 88 years after the war for independence from a country who had the Church of England as it's official religion.  How quick oppression was forgotten.  But 88 years and "God" was no part of our federal government.

In 1956, during the paranoia of the Cold War, was when they changed our nation's motto from "E Pluribis Unum" ( Out of Many, One ) to "In God We Trust" - ideologically tossing roughly half our citizens out of the government and breaking our Unity.  That was 180 years of Unity, broken by one vote in a paranoid congress.

If you are urging "God" and YOUR religion to be inserted into OUR government, then you do not respect our Country nor our Constitution.

I have no problem with you having your religion, practising your religion, going to your church, advertising your religion (despite your book's admonishments) or teaching your religion.  The problem starts when you try to enforce your religion on others.  It is especially problematic when you try to get our government to force your religion on me.

In the United States of America we share a common core, a belief in Freedom.  We can, and should, rally around the core of Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Realizing and Embracing the notion that our Liberty ends when another person's begins and extending to all people each and every right we want for ourselves.  This forms out of many people of different backgrounds, religions, races, orientations and persuasions, One Nation, Indivisible, with True Liberty, Justice and Equality for All.

Sources (this time) :
http://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm
http://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx
http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i7500.html

Excerpts from the sources:

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.
In its original form it read:
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy's daughter objected to this alteration

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. ....
The Congress passed the Act of April 22, 1864. This legislation changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of the two-cent coin. The Mint Director was directed to develop the designs for these coins for final approval of the Secretary. IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin

The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America
Frank Lambert

1639...Those Puritan Fathers exemplify two of the most enduring views of colonial America: America as a haven of religious freedom, and America as a Christian Nation. First, the Puritan settlers had fled England, where Archbishop William Laud had persecuted them because they refused to subscribe to religious beliefs and practices that they deemed to be unscriptural. Now in the American wilderness, they were free to worship according to the dictates of their consciences, governed only by the rule of God's word. And, second, those Puritan Fathers organized a Christian State. They established their Congregational churches as the official religion of Connecticut, supported by tax revenues and defended by the coercive arm of government.
 ...
One hundred and fifty years later... (in 1787, after such horrors as the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 - BK)
... unlike the work of the Puritan Fathers, the federal constitution made no reference whatever to God or divine providence, citing as its sole authority "the people of the United States." Further, its stated purposes were secular, political ends: "to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty." Instead of building a "Christian Commonwealth," the supreme law of the land established a secular state. The opening clause of its first amendment introduced the radical notion that the state had no voice concerning matters of conscience: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
In debating the language of that amendment, the first House of Representatives rejected a Senate proposal that would have made possible the establishment of the Christian religion or of some aspect of Christian orthodoxy. There would be no Church of the United States. Nor would America represent itself to the world as a Christian Republic. 

Their bequests were the ideas of separation of church and state and the free exercise of religion extended to people of all faiths or no faith. Their achievement can be understood only against the backdrop of the American Revolution. Clearly, they were architects of a political revolution, throwing off constitutional monarchy for a democratic republic. But they were also framers of a religious revolution, rejecting the idea of an established or official religion, which was the organizing principle informing church-state relations in the vast majority of countries, as indeed it had been in most of the American colonies. Never before had there been such a total separation of religious and political institutions. But the ban on establishment was not the Founders' only legacy in church-state matters. Regarding religion as a natural right that the governed never surrendered to government, they prohibited any interference in citizens' rights to the free exercise of religion.

Influenced by the Enlightenment, they had great confidence in the individual's ability to understand the world and its most fundamental laws through the exercise of his or her reason. To them, true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in the Bible but rather was to be found through free rational inquiry. Drawing on radical Whig ideology, a body of thought whose principal concern was expanded liberties, the framers sought to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms

BT is Safe!

There, I said it first.  Sure, Bacillus Thuringiensis is safe and effective when sprayed on even organic crops.  The problem comes from inserting genes into embryos (seed) to cause the plant to produce it's own crystal protein toxins.  While Corn is safe to eat, BT Corn is no longer Corn.  It is an untested genetic experiment unleashed on an unsuspecting public - and it is proving to be bad.

Now, don't think I'm picking on corn.  BT modification was first done on Potatoes. Peanuts also have been BT modified. And don't think that I'm picking on BT modification - any direct genetic manipulation that introduces a foreign gene into a food crop is ... simply wrong.  Especially if it is not tested properly, which none of them have been.

Any product that the manufacturer fights against testing or labelling, should raise alarm bells for anyone of sound mind.  Scientists are attacked for revealing any study that proves GMOs to be dangerous.

The process of gene splicing is just plain reckless.  Basically, they break open a cell of the organism that has the desired trait, break it's genes apart and hope they suck up the right piece with a needle.  Then they inject the genes into a developing seed or egg of the target organism - hoping that it will incorporate the desired gene into it's own genes.  What other genes they are creating, they don't care.  Antibiotic resistance, increased toxicity, decreased nutritional availability, increased allergens are all concerning possibilities.

Some claim that the GMO products will reduce the use of pesticide, which may be true.  The insects eat the plant and the toxins paralyse their digestive system causing them to not eat and therefore starve to death.  Those same toxins are found in the blood of people who consume GMO products - and their unborn babies.

But for Roundup-Ready varieties, they increase the use of herbicide.  Farmers increase the use of Roundup and when the weeds become resistant, they up it again. Yet it still fails to increase the crop's yields.

So, while spraying live BT bacteria on crop plants - which can later be washed off - may be safe, creating a plant that produces the insecticide of that BT by itself - which can never be washed off - is not in any way the same thing and, by far, not at all safe.