I have discovered the joys of Conservapedia.
"Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. . . Conservapedia is an online resource and meeting place where we favor Christianity and America . . . . you will much prefer using Conservapedia compared to Wikipedia if you want concise answers free of "political correctness".
In fact, it is so far out there that I actually had difficulty at first coming up with snarky comments about this bed of lies and misinformation. Certainly, in trying to spread this dreck they have made themselves obvious targets for hacking and parody but the sincere views expressed are the most disturbing.
For example; "Did you know that faith is a uniquely Christian concept?" This assertion seems based solely on the use of the word "faith" in various documents. It's used a lot in the New Testament and only rarely in the Old Testament and never in the Koran. You can see what that implies about these other "faiths."
"Young-earth creationism, which holds that the earth is about 7000 years old, is consistent with many observations, such as the existence and nature of the freshwater Great Lakes, the young moon and the Grand Canyon. Opponents repeatedly attempt to censor the sale of publications by the U.S. Parks Service near the Grand Canyon containing differing views of its development."
Young-earth Creationism is, in fact, inconsistent with all observations of the Great Lakes (created 10,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age), the young moon (formed in a massive collision 4.5 billion years ago) and it is the Creationists that have been able to limit the speech of US Park Service rangers who know that the Grand Canyon is 5 to 6 million years old but cannot say so. When their facts are slim or contradictory, they simply lie.
So, I looked up this Young Moon thing.
"The Moon is currently receding from the Earth at less than 6 inches per year. The Moon could never have been closer than about 150,000 miles or it would have been broken up by tidal forces. If the rate of recession is assumed to have averaged about 6 inches per year, the Moon's present distance of about 250,000 miles implies a young age for the Moon of no more than one billion years. Under the non-creationist claim that the Moon somehow broke away from the Earth, the Moon's rate of recession must have been faster in the past, and thus the Moon would have been only 150,000 miles from the Earth far more recently than one billion years ago. This contradicts the claim of non-creationists that the Moon and Earth are somehow several billions of years old."
I like how the entire body of geology is marginalized under "non-Creationists". I'm surprised they didn't use "Anti-Creationists" or perhaps "Heretics." Of course, their assumption is false because the math involved in the conservation of angular momentum does not lead to a simple mathematical progression of a steady 6 inches per year for a billion years. (That's why Isaac Newton invented calculus.) If fact, it was the calculations of physicists that lead to the conclusion that the moon was younger than the Earth by about 50 million years instead of having formed at the same time. This discrepancy lead directly to the theory that the moon was formed by an impact of a Mars-sized body on the Earth.
"The Moon's surface lacks the abundant iron that permeates the Earth, thereby proving that the Moon did not come from the Earth. This deficiency of iron on the Moon disproved the primary theory that the Moon must have originated by breaking off from the Earth. There is no plausible non-creation theory of origin for the Moon at this time."
Another pack of lies. An early molten planet has the light stuff (silicates) floating at the top and the heavy stuff (iron) at the core. Slam two of them together and most of the splash (that will become the moon) will be silicates. Iron on the Earth's surface isn't actually all that abundant when compared to everything else. The earths crust is mostly silicates and lighter elements (like aluminum) but convection (volcanoes, plate tectonics and the like) has brought some of the heaver stuff up to the surface where we can get to it making it seem that iron is more abundant than it actually is. The Moon, lacking the internal heat necessary to move this stuff around, has some iron at the core but is pretty much all silicates at the surface. The Creationists (or Anti-scientists or perhaps Delusional Theist Morons) don't offer any evidence to support their claims, they just say that the scientists don't know or can't explain. Is that an ad hominem argument or is it merely lying?
Hmmm, they don't have an entry for plate tectonics. No surprise. The way South America and Africa fit together like a puzzle and the relatively consistent expansion of the Atlantic Ocean (magnetic striping on the ocean floor caused by regular geomagnetic reversals provide that number) leading from a single continent 200 million years ago throws a fly in their 6,000 year old Earth ointment. Oh, wait. . . they'll just lie about that, too.
"Our solar system is one of the few that has only one sun. Only one sun and only one moon: this uniqueness may reflect the existence of only one God."
Oh, yea. That's unbiased.
On an unrelated note, Conservapedia has a terrific entry for the endangered Pacific Northwest Arboreal Octopus:
"The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (Octopus paxarbolis) can be found in the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula on the west coast of North America. Their habitat lies on the eastern side of the Olympic mountain range, adjacent to Hood Canal. These solitary cephalopods reach an average size (measured from arm-tip to mantle-tip,) of 30-33 cm. Unlike most other cephalopods, tree octopuses are Amphibian, spending only their earliest life stages and mating seasons in their aquatic environment. Because of the moistness of the rainforests and their well designed skin adaptations, they are able to keep from becoming dried out for prolonged periods of time."
OK, so it's a hoax entry, but I still want one as a pet. I wonder how long it will last before Conservapedia's "centralized authority takes steps to reduce bias and provide balance" or otherwise check their facts. Conservapedia makes a tremendous self-righteous stink about bias at Wiki but all they really do is present their own biased views and try to convince us that it's "The Truth." Much like Fox News tries to convince us they are "fair and balanced" by repeating the mantra over and over and blaming all their woes on the so-called "liberal media."
Conservapedia has locked their membership so that otherwise intelligent people don't signon and muck up their perfect wingnut world with inconvenient things like facts or with ridicule and parody. That will ensure that Conservapedia becomes even more insular and isolated from reality making for more entertaining reading.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I have discovered the joys of Conservapedia.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
When Drakken exulted about what the Electron Magneto-accelerator could do in the "Emotion Sickness" episode of Kim Possible, I thought nothing of it. But then I found the Kim Possible Remixed website. The owner takes screen captures of Kim Possible and add new dialogue. Wrong dialogue.
The next time I saw the episode, I thought:
Shego: “Hey, Doctor. D. Do you mind if I borrow your Electro Magneto-whatshamahooie? I have an electronic device I want *enhanced*.”
Dr. D.: “All right, Shego, but don’t get it all sticky.”
See? Innocent juvenile entertainment. . . ruined.
I do, however, absolutely refuse to read any Kim Possible fanfic. Ok, well, I HAVE read some KP fanfic, and it was sick and wrong. And I'm not going to read any more. Seriously.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The Inquirer website has been blocked by The Bank. I guess I.T. news is not considered business related.
Eight people called off today, leaving us short staffed. Again. Perhaps they didn't like having to work a 10-hour day after a holiday or perhaps they were more pissed of at not having been made aware of this requirement.
The Operations Manager was interviewing a few prospective employees. For a while, the training room was full of people because there wasn't enough room on the floor for all the analysts. Now, there's plenty of space, even if those eight we're missing today were here. I wonder what the bleed rate is right now? I wonder if any of those eight simply won't be coming back at all.
The Windows patch to fix the issue with Daylight Savings Time coming early has been delayed for the third time. Apparently they still haven't gotten it right. C'mon, guys. You're running out of time. So I asked the Site Manager (or, actually now the former Site Manager. With the new guy here, I'm not sure of titles.) if we were going to bump staffing levels that Monday. He had absolutely no clue of the potential for trouble. I hope this does not become an "I told you so" moment.
A fairly typical 69 calls for the day.
Monday, February 19, 2007
When the changeover from Adelphia to Comcast occurred, I immediately noticed that an on-going issue with my e-mail (that is, not being able to access it through the POP-3 client) cleared up. It was, however, replaced by a slowness overall. Internet radio has pauses. YouTube videos have pauses. My email client doesn't connect on the first pass. A Bittorrent took four days to download.
Oh, sure, there are a few occasions when I've measured my download speed just over 2000 kbps but, for the most part, the average download speed is around 800 kbps and a typical speed is around 300 kbps. This is not their advertised 3000 kbps "Blazing Fast Speed."
I've got a new adjective for their ad men to use:
Friday, February 16, 2007
When I got in to work this morning there was a sign taped up in the rest room saying that the cleaning staff would not be cleaning the restrooms during weekdays. Perhaps some obsessive/compulsive on the Hand Washing Committee complained that, when the female cleaning staff was in the men's restroom he had to make the arduous journey to another floor. The obvious solution is to not clean the bathroom during business hours.
I'm sure this didn't go over well with the Hand Washing Committee. Earlier this week they had posted signs on the bathroom mirror complaining that the soap dispensers were out of soap. "How can we follow the rules posted on the door when the dispensers are empty?" they asked. There are 10 whiny reasons why people should wash their hands posted on the door. Occasionally it gets torn down but they've taped it back up with a thick layer of packing tape. There have previously been attempts to post signs that "require" that all employees wash their hands but this were repeatedly removed so they finally settled on the sheet that merely suggests that hands be washed.
By 9am, the signs posted by the cleaning staff had been torn down, as if taking away the signs will change the decision. Or perhaps they plan to take the signs to Building Management is evidence of the evil that is going on.
I wonder if the Hand Washing Committee is as much a Secret Society as it seems. Do they have a mailing list to keep members informed of infractions? Do they have regular meetings? Do they have a secret handshake? Probably not, considering their concerns over the transference of germs. I do know that, should you be witnessed not washing your hands they will report you to your manager and claim that you are violating health laws. (Which is a lie, by the way.)
I'm sure their constant whining about cleanliness in the restroom irritates the cleaning staff and I'm sure that they recognize that this is only happening in the men's restroom on this floor. It's an ongoing battle between the neb-shits of the Hand Washing Committee and those that thought this sort of behavior was left behind in grade school.
I don't know if it was my e-mail to the Mayor's office, a lot of other e-mails to the Mayor's office or perhaps it was the plan all along but, in any case, the City plowed the Eliza Furnace Trail today. It was still slick in some places but what was most important is that it uncovered some asphalt. A few days of sunshine like we had today and expect for tomorrow will soak up in the trail and melt a lot of ice. There's supposed to be another inch of snow on on the way Sunday but that will be a lot easier to deal with without a few inches of ice underneath.
Thanks, Mayor Luke.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I went to Mayor Luke's 311 Non-Emergency Services Website today to place a request that the City make at least one pass with a plow on the Eliza Furnace Trail. At first, the snow was too deep to ride through but in short order the people walking on it will pack the snow into a dense, icy mess that will be truly dangerous to attempt to ride on. That crust will take weeks to melt, even if the temperature warms up significantly. Breaking that up with a plow will go a long way towards making the trail passable again (and I won't have to walk the three miles into town).
We'll see if The Kid is listening.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Because of the "inclement" weather the Northeast was having, a huge number of Bank employees decided to stay home and use VPN to access. There were even a large number of people who had never used VPN before attempting to get on for the first time. And, as might be expected, the system couldn't handle it. When I got in at 7:30, the queue was already building with users who couldn't get on.
It didn't take long for use to be informed that this was a known problem, that there was nothing that could be done about it (short of fewer people using VPN) and a front end message was put up. Everyone calling the Helpdesk was told, up front, that there was a known problem with VPN.
Of course, this didn't actually deter people from staying on the line to say essentially, "I heard there's a VPN problem but why cant *I* get on?"
Part of it is that everyone likes to think they are special. That these issues only affect other, less important people. Some even go so far as to think that if they can only get across how important they are to The Bank, that we can perform some magic and make it work for them. This is apparently what prompted the directive that if people from the Financial Services Group were to call about VPN issues, we were to open a ticket. This ticket wasn't going to actually solve their problem because, in essence, the problem was unsolvable. And then, actually looking at what happened to the tickets that were created, I found that the Function Desk was just closing them. Exactly the same thing we were doing for everyone else but without the lie that the ticket we were opening was actually going to accomplish anything.
One caller told me, "You know, I was in the Business Resiliency meeting where we talked about beefing up the system to handle volume like this but They didn't want to hear it."
"They," of course, being management who were being asked to spend money on a situation that might happen once every five years. Well, now that it happened THIS year and the Financial Services Group is crying all about it, maybe they'll have themselves another meeting.
Of course, if people had just come in to work, this wouldn't be happening. The branch people came in to work. The call center people came in to work. The Help Desk came in to work. I walked three miles through ankle deep snow and freezing rain to be here on time (it was a little too treacherous for my bike). The least the FSG people can do is get in their Beemers and Hummers and come in to work like the rest of us.
Of the 106 calls I took for the day (30 more than anyone else), a third of them were telling people what they had already heard during the front end message.
Monday, February 12, 2007
"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
January 27, 1838
Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois
We were making plans to go to Millennicon in a month so I submitted my request for that Friday off so that I could drive to Cincinnati.
Team Lead: Request denied Between March 14th and March 26th no requests will be approved due to the ********** rollout.
Geis: And this is why we say things like there is a lack of communication around here. Knowing this restriction in advance would have prevented me and my family from attempting to make plans. So now if I'm going to not waste the hotel reservation, I'm going to need to drive to Cincinnati by myself to meet my wife for the weekend. How about half a day? But then again, even that's probably not going to prevent us from having to take two cars.
Team Lead: You are 100% right. I should have notified everyone when this was brought to my attention (Thursday). My apologies.
Geis: Being right is no consolation when were driving two cars to the same destination. Does that screw the following weekend for which I was already approved?
Team Lead: No.
In point of fact, not only does H**** not plan on driving herself to
Cincinnati, we have at least one other person we were going to be driving. One way or another we are not taking two cars to Cincinnati. If, by some chance, I am able to score half a day off, I'll be getting out at 11:30, which won't be too bad. If not, fuck 'em. I'll just leave a note on the Team Lead's desk on Thursday when I leave and just not come in Friday. They can write me up for an unexcused absence when I get back.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Yea, I'll admit it, I like the show and skipped going to a party, in part because I overstuffed myself with shrimp at dinner, but mostly because Kim Possible: Season Four was premiering on the Disney Channel.
Why haven't they released previous seasons to DVD yet? I missed most of Season Three. Damn, do I have to bittorrent crappy TV rips?
I was in the Squirrel Hill Barnes & Noble bookstore and note that the graphic novel and manga sections are no longer in the back corner adjacent to the science fiction. It's much closer to the front now right next to the B&N Classics with the likes of Dickens and Dostoevsky and just behind hardcover new releases. Is this a sign of respectability for the graphic novel format? Are they now considered novels first and comic books second? More likely it's just where things ended up.
Still, it's nice to think that graphic novels might no longer be fringe fiction.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
The other day, H**** said that I was a disestablishmentarianist because I was opposed to organized religion. However, that isn't entirely true. While it is true that I am opposed to organized religion (making me an antitheist), that's not what disestablishmentarianism is.
The Anglican Church was established as the official Church of England in 1558 under Queen Elizabeth I. (That's the 'establishment' part) As near as I can figure, this was done to moderate the conflict that had come about earlier in the century as a result of Henry VIII's marital issues and the whole Reformation mess.
In the late 19th Century, there were proposals to separate the Church and the State. (There's the 'dis-establishment' part.) This lead to a movement to prevent this from happening. (anti-dis-establishment)
The Antidisestablishmentarianists won, for the most part, as the Church of England still stands as the official church of England, although it's influence in a governmental capacity seems to only extend to royal succession, which itself is subordinate to the Parliament.
In spite of efforts by the evangelical right wing, the United States is still a secular government thanks to the forethought of our founding fathers. They established a strict separation of Church from State in the First Amendment to the Constitution so that the rights off all to practice their own religion were not subverted by power of the mere majority. So, if anything, I am an antiestablishmentarianist; opposed to the establishment of Christianity (or any faith) as the official religion of the United States.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Back in High School, I participated in a career day. It was an opportunity to spend a day with professionals in a prospective career field and, at the time, I was looking at a career in meteorology. I went to the county airport and spent a day with the guys at Denardo-McFarland Weather. They placed bets on whether a weather system would develop into thunder showers or thunder storms. They showed me their secret porn stash in the filing cabinet. I passed on the opportunity to actually do the weather report for KDKA. They told me not to become a meteorologist.
I never completely gave up my interest in the weather and, while I can't stomach watching an entire evening of The Weather Channel, a can still read a detailed professional weather map and got a little geeked out when I discovered the Pittsburgh Weather Blog.
Now these guys are geeks.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Take a look of this picture of me from last year.
If you were to judge my weight from that photo, how would you characterize it? Would it be underweight? Normal? Overweight? Knowing I'm 5'11", could you guess my weight?
Would you guess that I weigh 220 pounds? And would you believe that, according to the National Institutes of Health I am obese?
Really! According to the BMI (Body-Mass Index) being 5'11" and 220 lbs give me a BMI of 30.7, into the obese category. If this is the definition of obesity then it shouldn't be any surprise that 30% of Americans are considered obese.
I am not obese. The BMI does not take into account that I have legs that are pretty solid muscle and that muscle is more dense than fat. Sure, I have a little bit of ponch around my middle and would like to loose about 20 pounds, but to say that I am obese is just absurd. By their formula, I should weigh around 165. Hell, I haven't weighed that little since I was in Junior High School, and I was a skinny little weakling nerd.
Here's a bit of trivia. I weigh the same as my father. Now, my dad is three inches taller than I am but has a true beer belly. He also has astonishingly skinny legs. His BMI has him in the overweight category. He's not as active as I am and is contending with hypertension and high blood pressure. All the more reason for me to keep doing the exercises that I do to keep in shape.
I didn't sleep well last night. I went to bed at a reasonable time (about 10:30) and had reasonably normal dreams (Daleks at the Battle of Gettysburg with me in the role of The Doctor) but at about 1:30 in the morning I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. For as cold as it was outside, I felt uncomfortably warm. Perhaps it was the furnace pump kicking on more often that usual trying to keep the house warm kept me from sleeping.
I gave up trying to sleep at a little after four in the morning. Got dressed, putzed on the computer for a while and then went to work.
The temperature was -1F and the wind chill was -20F for my bike ride in to work. It was only a short ride but even with the multiple layers I had, it was pretty brutal. My core temperature was OK but by the end of it, my fingers were burning from the cold. I'm glad I don't have to do this all the time and the temperature should be back up into the balmy 20s by Wednesday.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Like Hamlet, but without the happy ending.
We had a "Team" meeting at the Help Desk yesterday. We are told this sort of monthly status report is going to become the standard but I've heard that story before. What was new is that one of the Corporate bigwigs showed up to tell us all how great The Corporation was. And the way it was spun by this Senior Client Sales Executive, we should all be doing our part to spread the Corporate Brand. Just about every other thing he said indicated that we should be salespeople in addition to the job we're actually paid to do. (And paid poorly for, I might add.)
On the positive side, as a result of submissions to our spanking new suggestion box (that replaced the old suggestion box that was ignored and forgotten years ago), Management has reinstated the incentive program (that was eliminated without comment a year ago). For outperforming everyone else for the month of January, I won a Corporate logo T-shirt. I was able to successfully resist the urge to give it away before the end of the meeting. There's no way I'm going to wear it. My "team spirit" only extends to my next paycheck.
We received a card in the mail last week concerning a third-party "Employee Opinion Survey" of The Corporation. There was some talk about the possibility that the information gathered would not actually be kept confidential and that The Corporation would use the answers to target those critical of The Corporation. In my opinion, it would be unlikely that the PR Company would risk their own reputation by divulging that information. It's much more likely that The Corporation will simply ignore, repackage or spin the information provided to them to make it seem that the employees don't hate the company as much as they actually do. In any case, what's the worst they can do to me? Getting fired could well be an improvement in my situation.
Here's a sample of some questions on the survey. Each one was answerable on a scale of one to five with the unfortunate limitation that I could not rate it lower than one nor could I add specific commentary to broaden my answer.
How satisfied are you with your position at The Corporation?
Not having my position at The Corporation would be an improvement.
I believe that I can advance my career at The Corporation.
My career was standing still years ago, and I have told you as much. The only bright point is knowing that the Site Manager believes I should be able to advance if only one of the Team Leads met with an unfortunate accident.
How committed are you to a long-term career at The Corporation?
I am red shifting even now. Given the opportunity, I would be out of there so fast there would be a thunderclap and the air rushed in to fill the empty space.
I would recommend a friend to work at The Corporation.
I wouldn't recommend and enemy to work at The Corporation.
I am kept informed about matters that affect me.
When it was decided that I was no longer going to be tre trainer, not one person in management told me that it had even happened. Even now, none of them will admit to having made the decision.
I have a good understanding of the company mission and goals.
I have a pretty good idea of the CEO's goals; make as much money as he can and to hell with The Company.
I have a good understanding of how my goals are linked to company goals.
The Corporation is prostituting my labor to the client. I am only one step above slave and if they could get away with worse, I'm sure they would try to use me even more thoroughly.
Please rate The Corporation leadership in the following areas:
Leading by example.
The CEO bought himself a jet. He spent tens of thousands of dollars on strippers in a New York nightclub. He beat up on his short-time trophy wife and then bought her off when she sued him. His salary has nearly doubled in the past year and had nearly doubled in the year before that. At corporate teleconferences when a shareholder brings up a question he doesn't like, he pretends there are technical difficulties leading him to not hear the question or disconnect from the conference altogether.
This is leadership like the Robber Barons were leaders. Except the CEO is not creating a powerful corporation like the railroads became. He is leaving a shriveled husk that, when he takes the money and runs, will be picked over by scavengers.
Motivating me to help the company succeed.
Empowering me to directly influence the quality of my work.
Providing consistent feedback and direction.
Providing appraisals/progress reports on a regular and timely basis.
And so on.
Bet, hey! I got me a T-shirt.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
On the ride back from town on the Eliza Furnace Trail, I came across a wallet on the trail, the owner's college photo ID showing in the clear plastic window. Since I hadn't passed anyone on the way out of town I figured they were further on ahead so I put the wallet in my pocket and rode on.
It's was not long at all before I caught up with a pair of young women walking up the trail. When I stopped and asked "Is one of you Stephanie?" they looked somewhat startled. Not surprising as I was bundled up against the cold and probably looked quite menacing. The one girl had this very puzzled look on her face when I addressed her by name and actually took an intimidated step backwards.
That all changed when I handed her wallet to her, saying "Then you'll be looking for this." She gushed an excited blessing as I quickly rode off.
"A quirky publicity campaign for a late-night cartoon show generated far more attention than was intended when a slew of blinking electronic signs prompted fears of terrorism and the deployment of bomb squads"
The city of Boston claims to have laid out $750,000 investigating and removing the LED ads placed on behalf of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They arrested two individuals and plan to "take and an all legal action against Turner Broadcasting and its affiliates."
So, really, how stupid can you be. This ad campaign had been going on for the better part of a month in New York, Los Angeles and half a dozen other cities. They didn't seem to have any problems. Are you so panicky that you can't tell the difference between a cheap-as circuit board with a blinking cartoon flashing you the finger and a bomb? It takes you three-quarters of a million dollars to figure this out? Are you really that stupid?
The webcomic Otaku-no-Yen sums it up pretty well.
What I think happened is that the Boston PD was so embarrassed when they figured out that the first one was a stupid little toy that they pulled out all the stops in an act of self-flagellation to prove not only how dedicated they are to the cause but so they could rack up a huge bill and then demand reimbursement.
This is reinforced by news that on the same day in Boston, some pinhead placed replica pipe bombs at two locations, a bridge and a hospital. The culprit there has not been charged. Why? Because he doesn't have the deep pockets that Ted Turner has and making an example of a sad, stupid little man doesn't score the political points of taking on a multi-nation media giant.