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Month: January 2009

Dating a banker anonymous

Dating a banker anonymous

If you want to get truly angry at Wall Street’s excesses – then read this blog.

Here’s the quote from the site’s charter.  I can only hope this is a joke or some kind of skam site…

Dating A Banker Anonymous (DABA) is a safe place where women can come together – free from the scrutiny of feminists– and share their tearful tales of how the mortgage meltdown has affected their relationships. So if your monthly Bergdorf’s allowance has been halved and bottle service has all but disappeared from your life, lighten your heart with laughter and email your stories to



Thanks to all of you who emailed, sent cards, phoned, and all the support about my dad.  He’s buried now and our family has been a tremendous support to each other through it all.  There’s no doubt in my mind now that my father is still encouraging and supporting each of us even now.  It was very difficult for a few days, but then a moment of revelation and clarity came and I knew I didn’t need to worry for my dad any more – it would be him still helping us.

Of all the pain, I know the hardest is that I simply miss him.  I will miss his laugh and hearing his stories, having him to listen to me when I needed an ear, knowing that he was always proud of each of us, and always knowing there was someone that loved and knew each of us better than we knew ourselves (as kids).

I read one of the readings at my dad’s funeral – and this was the one that the priest picked.  Strangely enough – it’s the very one I was thinking of when trying to describe what my dad and his life was like.  In raising 8 kids, he sacrificed much and endured a lot of long nights with sick kids, attending countless concerts/sporting events/plays/ceremonies, saw countless times he did without a lot so that we could have a bit more, and did not pursue many of his own dreams in order that we could.  Yet through it all, he said many times he wouldn’t have traded any of it for anything.  Dad told us that he invested his life in each of ours – not in a fancy retirement.  But not only just us – but for the entire 6 hour wake we had a never-ending line of people in the community that came to see him off from all the different groups he worked with and folks he had helped over the years.

But he didn’t do all of that just because he wanted to be a great dad or citizen – but because he actively took the journey of self-giving love that connected him more and more deeply with God.  He attended mass nearly daily and prayed the rosary regularly to learn that kind of love – the love that teaches you that it’s when you empty yourself for the sake of others that you find true freedom.  The kind that is real Christian love – not just charity or humanitarianism.  If there was someone who taught me what Christian love was by his actions, that would be my dad.  When I showed this passage to my sister – she laughed and said – that was dad. And I agreed:

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels; but do not have love, I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge;
and if I have faith so great as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
And if I give all my possessions and even if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient,
Love is kind.
Love is not jealous;
Love does not brag – love is not arrogant.
Love does not act unbecomingly; nor does it seek its own,
Love is not provoked,
Love never takes into account a wrong suffered,
Love does not rejoice in sin, but rejoices with the truth;
Love bears all things, love believes all things, love hopes all things, love endures all things.

Love never fails.

Funeral details

Funeral details

For those in the area and want to attend:

The viewing/visitation for our dad will be Monday, Jan 19th from 2-8pm at Davidson Funeral Home – 121 N Union St, Delphi, IN.  A rosary will be said at 8pm.

The funeral mass will be 10am, Tuesday, Jan 20th at St Joseph Catholic Church in Delphi.

In Indiana

In Indiana

My father died yesterday afternoon – apparently in his sleep while at the hospital.  I’ll be back in Indiana for at least the next week (Jan 16-25th).  Thank you all for your support and prayers up to this point.

Please keep the happy repose of our father’s soul and our family in your prayers.

Logic test

Logic test

As a Theology student, I liked this.  The first half of theology is logical thinking and philosophy.

It’s not so much the 5-minute mystery game type, but more a quiz on logic as you would get in a college course.   I managed to get 15/15, but had to think very carefully about a few of the questions.  It was very good – and reminds you of how slippery the arguments/statements that most politicians and news reporters use – and how one must very carefully and precisely choose ones words and the order they appear.    One of them directly relates to crimes you might see as a jurist/Sherlock Holmes as well.  Answers are given at the end.

Health of my Dad

Health of my Dad

My dad had a dramatic and very unexpected heath incident the day after Christmas.  It was very severe and he is now looking at months of recovery at this point with likely life-long changes in his abilities.  There is still a risk of sudden death.  Feel free to email me if you want some details, but I don’t feel comfortable putting personal information up on a blog.

I simply urge you to pray for him and our family.  Please also be a bit more patient with my emailing/etc.  I may be flying home more often as well as taking care of more family matters.

A conversation

A conversation

Had a conversation with a guy that went like this:

I refuse to participate in any recession.

As long as I work and earn, I will save and spend just as I always did. My family’s economy won’t be dictated to by some namby-pamby report by a bunch of gloom and doom busybodies.


If you practice fiscal responsibility (something the U.S. government seems unwilling to do, hence the current mess), work hard and consistently, keep your skills updated and always marketable, you’ll stay out of trouble… or at least be nimble enough to make whatever moves are necessary to get out of trouble very quickly.

I used to think like you do – but I have realized the far too sad truth. We’ve rounded a moral hazard corner that is about to dramatically re-shape future perceptions and policy as to what is ‘acceptable’ pain we as a country will accept when things go wrong. And I see it as a real canary in the mine as to things to come.

I also lived within my means. I was going to buy a house 2-3 years ago, but didn’t because I saw the writing on the wall. I figured when the collapse came, I could buy a house at probably less than half of current prices. I saved and hoped to be rewarded for that foresight. But that hasn’t happened.

Instead, I now have over $2000 of new national debt in my name, housing prices have been propped up artificially, and that much more of my taxes are going into the national debt toilet instead of doing real work for roads, schools, new companies, etc. And with a moratorium on foreclosures, it makes me wish I had gone out an lived stupidly.

And now we’re about to do it again for automakers who haven’t been competitive in years. Bloated with poor products, union handcuffs, and an apathy worthy of the name ‘fat lazy American’, we’re about to enter a world of US automakers that are just as wonderful as our airline industry. Ones that go bankrupt every 5-10 years and a lovely cycle of restructuring, dollar stocks, and mediocrity that’s carefully maintained by union contracts instead of being allowed to go belly up and restructure into something viable.

Folks like to talk about Obama’s plans just like the ‘New Deal’ – but I argue it’s not the same. I applaud the idea – I think it’s the best we’ve got, but this isn’t that companies collapsed and joblessness skyrocketed. We’re in a crisis of personal debt – and we’re using new government debt to pay off personal debt. We’re in uncharted waters. What’s the answer? I don’t know – I think we’ve done the best we can. We’d have had a real 1929 this year if the govt hadn’t stepped in. But I don’t see this as sustainable.

As it is, we’ll likely find ourselves in the same ‘lost decade’ Japan did when it’s housing bubble burst. Years of no real growth while we pay off debt (yes, we’re being much more proactive, but it’s very likely the pattern we’ll follow). Meanwhile everyone slowly walks out your investment doors and when you are open for business again – it’s all moved on. The rest of the world isn’t America – and China is sitting on mountains of cash and ready to innovate, invest and become the new world leader. We’ve certainly endeared ourselves to the world enough they’ll certainly remain loyal haven’t we?

Even all that doesn’t put the nail in it for me. It’s the fact that we’re seeming to pour out money while only sort-of dealing with the underlying, fundamental problems. We gave $100’s of billions to the very banks that got us in this mess. Have *we* however started changing our credit card use and living within our means?  In my book – nope.  We’re just making someone else pay for it – our whole society (aka government who spreads the debt around via taxes).

I personally am thinking long and hard about getting my long-term investments out of the US – or diversified outside much more.  I’m thinking China is looking better now – which has a national *savings* rate of over 50% as a better bet with people that know how to make money and keep it with real products. This is all speculation though.

A final note for those of you that like pointing fingers or say this analysis isn’t fair.  I say we should roundly point our fingers at ourselves on this one equally. Yes, the loan companies were out of control – but you know what – so were all of us. This wasn’t Enron sitting on a hill – this was each of us living beyond our means.  This is us not picking up a copy of ‘Mortgages for Dummies’ for God’s sake.  Chapter 1 is “Figuring out what I can afford” for heavens sake.  So when that sad tale on NPR pops up and average Joe is losing his job. Tell him it’s because *you* run up so much debt and had to be bailed out. Because that’s the hard truth on this one.

Fixing what’s wrong in Linux

Fixing what’s wrong in Linux

Nothing is a panacea.  Over time, I’ve found the most intelligent thing you can do when making choices is to take the time to understand the good and bad about the decision/life choice/political philosophy/etc before moving forward.  If you can’t say both what’s good and bad about something – then you need to do some more homework.

So here’s a very well balance and well-written article on what’s needing some work in Linux.  Interesting points:
1. Package management – RPM’s and inter-dependencies are a huge headache.  I think people underestimate how much thankless work goes into folks who make packages that automatically resolve conflicts and versioning problems that arise with every singe release of anything.  I remember when not only did you have to go through the headache of building yourself (which required a degree in CS to figure some of these build procedures out), but you had to do the interdependency updating yourself.  Doing this yourself by hand made me want to commit suicide and really turned me off from Linux.  I thought windows install/uninstall was goofy and unstable (leaves junk even after installs/etc).  But when I realized my parents couldn’t even figure windows install out – I knew Linux was hosed for the average Joe.  Fortunately they’ve really fixed this in modern versions – but I know what’s going on underneath and it’s frightening.
2. Configuration files everywhere – same problem exists in windows – saved preferences and data files for individual programs live EVERYWHERE.  Backing up a computer/system is a huge pain the rear because of this – so much so that I’d bet that a full 50% of backups people make probably don’t actually back up the data you think it did and will get burned later.  As a solution, he even suggests it might be good to have a central configuration file – that sounds a lot like a *registry* to me…
3. Kernel Application Binary Interfaceskernal interfaces change too much/moving target.  Haven’t had too much trouble with this – but keeping legacy support is the same problem Microsoft has had.  Apple went around this by making fat binaries with multiple executables and then just drew a line in the sand and ended backwards support.  I personally think that’s the way to go for desktops; but linux has way, way too many ancient apps that have been running in back rooms for decades now – and have to keep them running.  Legacy support is a big nasty problem that only Apple has tried to solve well.
4. Native file versioning – rollback on individual files has been in OS X and has recently come to Vista.  With the outrageous storage capacity of drives today – there’s no reason not to allow rollback saving.  Linux doesn’t have much in this department yet – but will.  It’s only recently become viable now that 1 terabyte drives are at $100 – but should become second nature.  How many times do I mess up word documents, save it, and then realize I needed the old version with revision notes in it.  Word files are like 50-100k, why not save buckets of them?  Having this built into the OS is a nice way to not have to save 50 files with different names.  Space is basically limitless anymore on desktop machines…
5. Audio application interface – multimedia on linux has always been a bit of a backwards child compared to Windows, and should be embarrased when compared to OS X.  Too many half-baked solutions, but no silver bullet.  Agree.  Unfortunately, this also implies a whole suite of tools that are user friendly for using multimedia – DVD players, video players, audio/iPod/TV tuners/surround sound/etc.  Even Windows struggles with a nice uniform exposure that my mom can figure out.
6. GUI – He actually recommends a committee to define interfaces for apps to use in order to get fast access to kernel managed system resources.  He further recommends the shockingly obvious – that GUI’s need more uniform look and feel that were actually developed by GUI experts – not Joe’s backyard garage experiment.  This is probably the #1 soft issue for non-linux people.  More on that below.  But the interfaces question sounds a lot like what Microsoft tried to do with MFC.  A common interface for asking for GUI interaction.  This is a great idea – but just like MFC – is less flexible than ‘to the metal’ coding.  There was a lot of folks that had to go back to Win32 just to get features working they needed in their guis.  One would need to think very carefully about what that interface would look like before doing it…
7. App integration with X11 – Welcome to Windows 95.  In linux, if a gui app crashes well enough, then the windowing system/gui crashes.  And people *itch about windows?  Agree on this point.  Understand how it got there, but what the user sees and experiences is what matters – and pressing <ctrl><alt><backspace> is just as fun as hitting <ctrl><alt><delete>.  I see no difference – so fix it.
8. Commercially supported save/restore – related to 2 in my opinion.  His proposal is almost already being done by IBM and others that sell *services* that provide you with an always up, always patched, always backed up server to the internet.  However, I disagree that this is universally desired.  A company cannot really take the risk of the lowest-bidder backup service won’t ever leak their important data or simply go away unexpectedly as things hit the skids.  If it must absolutely, positively be backed up and secure – companies must be able to do it themselves.  That and I, Joe Average, don’t want to have a bill each month when I can buy another hard drive.  But again, very few backup solutions really work well – amazing how bad the commercial sphere is in this department for all 3 OS’s (linux, win, mac).

Here’s one I’d like to add:

9. Ripping it off and then calling it your own – I was amazed how many ‘new features’, ‘updates’,  and programs that the linux community touts as star children of open source have blatantly ripped off commercial products.  Star Office is a good one.  When it was it’s own deal back in the day – it was terrible to use.  Now it’s called OpenOffice and looks just like Office XP/2003.  GIMP was the most horrid pile of hooey – but has gotten somewhat better now that it kind of looks like Photoshop.  X looked like a pile of jagged polygon edges with Motif and now most of it’s windowing systems look just like MS Windows or OS X.  Installers now work a lot like OS X/Windows.  Yet, everyone seems to walk around like they were first to come up with all these ideas.  They weren’t.  My concern is that the open source world doesn’t realize what a debt they owe to their commercial brethren for investing LOTS of time/money/effort/insanely talented people into the experience of using a machine – not just its nuts and bolts working together.  And if commercial development went away – what exactly would they be left with?

Most of the business models for open source are service models.  You don’t make money from the software, you make it from the services of setting it up/maintaining/consulting/etc the code for the job at hand.  This isn’t entirely bad – but that means money won’t come from investing 3 years to come up with revolutionary ideas.  It comes from continuing the status quo/obfuscation that is job security.  I think people have underestimated how much that force will become dominant if left by itself or if commercial endeavors become too costly.

Clever ideas coming down the pipe

Clever ideas coming down the pipe

I like forward looking websites.  Probably the best, most well known one is called Ted.  I highly recommend browsing through it’s presentations.  Very educated people giving (usually) very good presentations that are fact/data based – they tend to take a less ideologically based view than most sources.

However, research sites are interesting too.  Here’s one about ten interesting projects that Microsoft research is working on.