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Date: Saturday, 20 May 2006 21:54

As mentioned before a few weeks ago, my time in the blogosphere is coming to an end. Over the past 18 months I’ve had a tremendous experience as an amateur writer and political commentator.

Of everything I’ve done, the thing I’ve enjoyed the most is creating The Liberty Papers and the Life, Liberty, Property blog community. They’ve been great chances to get to meet a lot of other great bloggers who have similar political and philosophical beliefs. And to interact with those folks and a lot of commenters. Even the commenters who are consistently negative or reflexively opposed to anything that doesn’t fit their ideal were fun and interesting.

Brad will be taking over The Liberty Papers. He’s a great writer and a lot of fun to interact with. I’m sure he’ll keep this going and The Liberty Papers will do well, by whatever definition is important to Brad and the other contributors.

I’ll be leaving these archives on the ‘Net as long as Pixy Misa doesn’t mind hosting them.

Because of the position I’m moving on to in my professional life, I can’t continue to blog. But I plan to continue reading blogs when I have time. Blogs are, as I’ve said before, the modern pamphlet. And the pamphleteers of an earlier era were instrumental in bringing about the single greatest event to occur in the advancement of liberty and individualism yet. So, don’t despair fellow pamphleteers, keep working at it and you can change the world too.

Author: "Eric" Tags: "General"
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Date: Monday, 17 Apr 2006 18:12

Like a lot of other folks listed in my links, I dream of the human race bursting free of our home planet and reaching out to the stars. I try to link to folks who write well on the topic and give me interesting food for thought. I just found a new one today, thanks to InstaPundit’s link to John Barnes. John’s Amazon blog is brand new, it only has 3 entries so far. But, it looks to me like a hit if he keeps it up.

In his second entry, John talks about the defining events of the 19th and 20th centuries (The Congress of Vienna and August, 1914 respectively) and then makes the case that January, 2006 is the defining event that ushers in the 21st century. I think he hits the nail on the head with historical events. The Congress of Vienna did bring the era of European Hegemony and it wasn’t broken until WWI started in 1914. I’ve argued in the past that the 20th century was actually one long World War that grew out of the collapse of the European system that was put in place in 1815. In truth, the Congress of Vienna was inherently unstable, and the World War inevitable, once the peripheral powers (USA, Russa primarily and to a lesser extent Germany) were excluded from any real influence and the British and French were given primacy of place. The War that began in August, 1914 wasn’t over until 1990 when Russia finally threw in the towel. Regardless of any distortions anyone may want to make, for 75 years there was a contest to see who would dominate the world, and American came out on top. That America doesn’t exert power in the fashion that Persia, Rome or Britain did in years past doesn’t indicate that American hegemony doesn’t exist. It just indicates that the people of America are reluctant to be an Empire.

If you’re interested in why the 21st century started in January, 2006, see John’s entry. If you’re interested in his conclusions about what it all means:

In the 21st century, a civilization in which everyone can know everything, dominated by an uneasy American hegemon, is going to the stars.

I just wonder if an American Empire can remain creative and innovative long enough to reach for the stars, or will it have to wait for the next try at civilization?

Author: "Eric" Tags: "Politics, Science Fiction"
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Date: Saturday, 15 Apr 2006 03:37

Nearly two years ago now I started maintaining my own blog after reading many other blogs for quite a while. Like a lot of folks a couple of years ago, I had started turning to blogs as a source of entertainment, news and commentary on the world. One of the blogs that inspired me the most was Chrenkoff. I’ve always considered him to be the father of my own blog, along with Eric Raymond’s Armed and Dangerous (or ESR, as many of us know him) and Jerry Pournelle’s Chaos Manor. Little did I know that I would follow Arthur’s path nearly to a T.

Over the more than year and a half that I’ve been blogging, both here and at The Liberty Papers, I’ve met a lot of great folks. Some have inspired me, I’ve inspired some, and for some it’s been mutual. I’ve been able to create a great community of folks who work to keep the classic liberal ideas of individual rights and limited government alive and well. And I’ve put together a group blog that is doing reasonably well. I can’t possibly begin to list all of the folks I’ve interacted with in the blogosphere, so I’m not even going to try. I would end up slighting someone, somewhere, somehow if I did.

So, why the discussion of all of this? Well, I’ve been offered a job. As many folks know, I’m an information security manager in a large company. The job I’ve been offered is a big step up for me, with the potential for even more beyond that. After a week of discussions with my family and potential employer, I’ve accepted the position and will be starting in the near future. I’m not at liberty to disclose it yet, when and if I can, I will. One of the issues that came up is that I will not be able to blog. Public communication in the position I’m taking will reflect on the organization. Because of that, I will leave both Eric’s Grumbles and The Liberty Papers. I will also not be able to administer Life, Liberty and Property. Aside from those issues, this is going to mean a lot of time away from my family, and I want to reserve the time I have at home for them, first and foremost.

I’ll leave Eric’s Grumbles up as long as Pixy Misa doesn’t mind me taking up space on MuNuvia. And I’m working with the contributors of The Liberty Papers to turn the management over to someone else. The same goes for Life, Liberty and Property.

I will probably write a few more posts at The Liberty Papers in the next couple of weeks.

Before I forget, many thanks to my wife and kids for putting up with my obsession for so long!

Thanks guys, it’s been a great adventure!

Update: A final word. I know I said I wasn’t going to mention any bloggers, but I really have to mention one. During the first week I was blogging, long before I got an Instalanche, or links from Chrenkoff, the Libercontrarian was the first person to link to me. I was getting sort of frustrated with blogging, mainly because I seemed to be talking to myself. Thanks Nick!

Author: "Eric" Tags: "General, Family, Blogging"
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Date: Saturday, 25 Mar 2006 08:40

I originally wrote this in May, 2005. When I saw Brad’s post, Yes Virginia, I Really Am A Radical, today at The Liberty Papers, I decided to repost it. Enjoy.

Not long ago my wife said to me, “You’ve gotten really radical recently and I’m worried about it”, or words to that effect. She then went on to tell me that, in her opinion, radicals and extremists don’t accomplish much. I retorted that nothing great was ever accomplished by being “moderate”, and proceeded to give examples, such as the Founding Fathers and Martin Luther King, Jr., who were all radicals compared to their own society. That’s about where the conversation ended. I have to say, though, that I’ve always been radical, I just allowed, for a time, my view that we needed to defend the Great Liberal Experiment against the other extremists to move me more towards a moderate position. Now I’ve decided that defense is silly, it’s a losing game and that the only way to change to a positive sum scenario is to re-adopt radical positions that advocate change.

I’ve been thinking about radical, moderate and extreme for a while since that conversation, quite a bit. Before I go on, I had better establish some meanings for terms. Otherwise we’ll all be interpreting what I say, based on different understandings of those terms. So, without further ado, Eric’s definitions.

  • Conservative - the original, traditional meaning. Someone who doesn’t want to see society or government change much or rapidly.
  • Radical - Someone who believes that significant change is needed, which by itself would make them “liberal”. But, more importantly, their ideas, whether social or political, are outside the mainstream.
  • Extreme - Out at the edge of any given spectrum, or set, of social and political beliefs. This is normally used in a derogatory fashion by those who don’t agree with that set of beliefs.
  • Moderate - this is the new term for the traditional meaning of conservative. Moderates think things are pretty good right now and we only need moderate change that is balanced between the opposing, extreme, poles.

One realization I’ve come to is that, for anyone who is moderate, radical positions are extreme, in the derogatory sense.

Another is that I was right. Great things are achieved by radicals, not moderates or conservatives. I could give a hundred examples. But really all you have to do is consider who is remembered in history. Do you remember the moderate US Presidents of the 19th century? No, you don’t. But Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, radicals both, are remembered by the entire world.

There is nothing wrong with holding extreme beliefs, in and of itself. Most who are extreme want to achieve things that they believe are good. The problem is what the outcome of putting those extreme beliefs into practice are.

Radicals who succeed are considered to have had a grasp of obvious truths and are thus acceptable to moderates. As evidence I cite the American Revolutionary leaders and Martin Luther King, Jr. as two examples. They were radical and extreme, within the context of their time and society. But, as we look back at them, their success leaves us venerating them rather than seeing them as extremists.

Humans don’t like change, they don’t like danger and risk, they seek comfort, safety and survival. Interestingly, changes that have promoted more comfort for the individual, improved individual and group safety, increased chances of survival have come about through the efforts of radicals and extremists and then been institutionalized by conservatives once they were successful. What humans tend to desire, consciously anyhow, appears to be contra-survival for the group, as a whole.

Yes, my beliefs are “radical” and “extreme”. Yes, the moderates won’t like them. But I believe that radical beliefs are good, they bring new ideas and thoughts to the debate, whether social, scientific or political, they challenge the status quo, they effect change. If you believe that our society today is at, or near, the possible pinnacle of “goodness” that can be achieved, then you are true to yourself to be moderate. If, on the other hand, you think growth, change and knowledge are good things and that we can do better tomorrow than we are doing today, you should be a radical. In whatever area you want to see improvement, whatever your beliefs may be. Your beliefs and mine will be tested in the great crucible of human society and the best ones will come out on top.

Author: "Eric" Tags: "Principles, My Favorites"
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Date: Thursday, 23 Mar 2006 05:47

So, the other day Gunner asked me what kind of poker I play. Here you go.

I’ve played poker for about 20 years now. I first started playing 5 card draw and quickly graduated to a “real” game, 7 card stud. Stud is my personal choice for playing poker. Unfortunately, unless I’m willing to play in a casino it’s very difficult to find enough players who want to play stud, and can play reasonably well, to get a game together. But, there is a good group of players here in Elk Grove that plays Texas Hold’em.

We get together at least once a month, usually enough people to get two tables going with 6 to 8 players per table. We play no limits and progressive blinds. We want it to stay fairly friendly, so we buy in for $2. Each player gets $20 in chips, blinds start at $1 and $2. Top 3 players win, 3rd place gets their $2 back, 1st place gets 50% of the pot, the remainder goes to 2nd place. We can normally get in 5 to 6 games in one night.

Most of the group drinks wine, so I end up drinking wine too. I enjoy wine, but it doesn’t seem very “poker-ish”, does it?

Author: "Eric" Tags: "General"
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Date: Sunday, 19 Mar 2006 20:25

And it was a good one. I came out $16 ahead, which you can’t argue with. And had some beautiful hands, like the high straight and the other guy is holding the low straight. He has to bet, and I know I’m holding the winning hand. It was one of those nights were I was really on, and the hands were pretty decent. I got to hang out with some good friends, play some poker, drink some good wine.

Speaking of wine, if you’re in the store and see the 2003 Tisdale Shiraz, you can’t go wrong with it. We had a bottle of that last night and I really enjoyed it.

Tags: wine, poker

Author: "Eric" Tags: "General"
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Date: Thursday, 16 Mar 2006 04:51
Author: "Eric" Tags: "General"
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Date: Wednesday, 15 Mar 2006 07:19

So, Sirhan Sirhan is up for parole again. For those who don’t know, he assassinated Bobby Kennedy in 1968. For background, see this article. After the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972, his sentence was commuted to life in prison.

The interesting dilemma is that if the parole hearings recommend parole, it goes to Schwarzenegger for final review. Schwarzenegger is a nephew of Teddy Kennedy by marriage. There is no provision in California law for the Governor to recuse himself and allow the Lt. Governor to act in his stead on this. If it reaches that point, which seems unlikely, Schwarzenegger is damned no matter what he does.

Tags: Sirhan+Sirhan, Schwarzenegger, California

Author: "Eric" Tags: "California"
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Date: Monday, 13 Mar 2006 06:02

My blog friend, Left Brain Female, finally started her Linux adventure. I wrote a bunch of posts on installing and using Linux for newbies (here, here, and here) just because I knew she was going down this road. It wasn’t all for LBF, I figured there were a lot of people that could get some value out of my thoughts on the topic. In any case, it’s great to see yet another person start moving out of the Microsoft desert and find out how much power her computer can really have.

Author: "Eric" Tags: "Linux Grumbles"
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Date: Saturday, 11 Mar 2006 18:10

One man’s theology is another man’s belly laugh.

Robert Heinlein, “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long”

Author: "Eric" Tags: "General"
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Mar 2006 04:16

I won’t be active for a few days. My real life has caught up with me again. I’ll be in meetings with a customer for the rest of the week that are going to keep me very busy and not wanting to think much about posting. I may do some commenting at The Liberty Papers, Catallarchy and Eric Raymond’s place.

Author: "Eric" Tags: "General"
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Date: Thursday, 02 Mar 2006 23:55

I just got a phone call for a charity that started with the code words “Can we count on your support for the children of California”. I said I don’t donate to your charity. The response was “why not?”. Me: “Because I don’t, please take me off your calling list, have a nice day.” … followed by me hanging up.

Tags: charity

Author: "Eric" Tags: "General"
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Date: Tuesday, 28 Feb 2006 07:44

Maybe so. My wife and I went shopping this weekend. At the Apple Store. My wife was needing a new computer and my son’s computer is about 3 years old now, adequate, but not great, all things considered. Her primary need for a new computer was for dealing with digital photography and digital video. I guess, by now, you can figure out where this is leading. Yep, my son gets the 1 year old HP and 17″ LCD monitor. He’s overjoyed with his “new”, fast computer and “very cool” (his words) monitor. And my wife got a brand new Apple iMac. I’m afraid it’s not Linux. Nor will we be loading Yellow Dog on it.

But, I have to say that Mac OS X 10.4 is pretty cool. I like the way the interface is managed, with the application menu bar at the top of the workspace, separate from the application window. The menu bar is focus sensitive, and changes with the focus of foreground application. I also like the fact that when you close an application window it just backgrounds the application, rather than closing it. That really changes how you use applications. On Windows or Linux you generally keep a lot of applications open so that you can quickly make them the focused application. In OS X, I think you’ll find that you don’t need to do that. You can close the app’s window and relaunch it again quickly, since it is actually just in a state equivalent to being minimized in Windows.

I’ve managed to easily migrate my wife’s data and settings to her new iMac as well, including Thunderbird email files, Firefox bookmarks, photos, video files and OpenOffice documents. Installing OpenOffice means that you need to install X11, which was not difficult at all. Her HP PhotoSmart printer was easily installed, and her Logitech Marble@Mouse works great. With a Intel GHz dual core CPU, 512 MB RAM, 160 GB SATA HDD and ATI Radeon X1600 graphics processor, this is a serious machine. The 17″ LCD displays everything beautifully, and it has the outstanding Apple design. The Super Drive, which can read and write just about any CD or DVD format is awesome too.

So, it may not be open source, but it is a great piece of hardware and operating system. It’s BSD (actually OpenDarwin) under the hood, which means that you can put most GNU apps on it. OpenOffice, for example, is working nicely. And, since it’s a Mac, there’s plenty of graphics stuff, including all the Kodak EasyShare tools, for the iMac.

Buying a Mac is like computer buying used to be. Knowledgeable staff that pay attention to you and what your looking for, instead of 19 year old kids at Best Buy. There’s four Mac’s set up for your kids, so the 3 year old daughter played there and the 12 year old son roamed around the store while we talked with the sales staff. Nobody fussed that he was messing with computers and trying things out. They did some upselling on their care plans, but didn’t push when I said we had no need for Office for the Mac, wireless keyboards, etc. The shopping experience was as good as the computer.

I can honestly say that I will never buy a Windows PC again, barring some miracle in Microsoft business practices and technology. It will either be a Mac, a white box PC with no OS, or something with Linux preloaded.

Tags: iMac, Apple, Microsoft, Linux, Mac+OS+X

Author: "Eric" Tags: "Geek Grumbles"
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Date: Monday, 27 Feb 2006 18:48

Over at The Liberty Papers, for those of you who come here looking for my political and philosophical discussion, you can find a series of posts on education that are informative and very damning to the “education establishment.

Brad’s post, Threat of Teacher’s Unions, got linked by Neal Boortz, and is well worth reading. So are the other three, of course. Swing by and see what we’re thinking!

Author: "Eric" Tags: "Education"
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Date: Friday, 24 Feb 2006 22:24

I just read this over at Desktop Linux. Interesting, although not earth shattering.

It’s a different story for so-called workstations priced nearly as cheaply as desktops. Dell has started advertising a trio of affordable workstations with RHEL WS 4 (Red Hat Enterprise Linux workstation 4) preinstalled.

I think I’ll find out if I can buy one of their machines and then write more on the topic.

Author: "Eric" Tags: "Linux Grumbles"
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Date: Friday, 24 Feb 2006 07:21

I’m sick and tired of Internet Explorer. This blog is valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional. I just verified it with the W3C validator. I fixed a couple of small problems (like forgetting an alt attribute in an image tag). And it still doesn’t look right in Internet Explorer. The spaces between each block in the header are supposed to only be 3 pixels high. It displays right in every other browser I’ve tried. In IE, as I noted in my previous post, my style sheet does not work correctly.

Now it does work correctly. I created spacer images that were the same height as the spacer div and the same color.

But, that’s it. I am no longer going to check my blogs in Internet Explorer to make sure they display right. I’m not going to go out of my way to get them to look right. If they’re broken, it’s Microsoft’s fault, not mine. I follow the standards, but they don’t.

I highly recommend you dump their broken piece of junk.

Author: "Eric" Tags: "What The?"
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Date: Thursday, 23 Feb 2006 18:12

From my style sheet:

.sm_spacer { width: auto; height:3px; background-color: #666633; }

Then I do this in my html:

<div class="sm_spacer"></div>

This works fine in Firefox, Mozilla, etc. but sucks in IE. In IE, the height of the div is ridiculously tall, instead of 3 pixels. Anybody got any ideas?

Author: "Eric" Tags: "What The?"
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Date: Thursday, 23 Feb 2006 07:58

I put my banners back up. Including the skulls, naturally. There are two right now, and they rotate randomly. I need to work on the colors a bit, they don’t really match this color scheme.

Author: "Eric" Tags: "General"
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Date: Thursday, 23 Feb 2006 05:56

I’m gonna post this link here too because it’s damn funny.

A Night Out On The Town

You probably won’t want to open it at work.

H/T: Anarchangel

Author: "Eric" Tags: "General"
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Date: Thursday, 23 Feb 2006 05:36

Your daughter?

First, there was this

Darth Karyn?

And then we have to inspect the equipment and make sure it’s ready for battle

Darth Karyn and equipment

And then, she turns on her heel and shakes the dust off

Darth Karyn spurns us

Author: "Eric" Tags: "Family"
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