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Month: December 2010

Battlefield 2 on Steam kicking you off because of PunkBuster?

Battlefield 2 on Steam kicking you off because of PunkBuster?

Did you take advantage of the super Steam holiday sales?  I did, and got the complete Battlefield 2 pack for $4.99.  However, if you installed it and got it all working – you might keep getting kicked out of network games because PunkBuster reports that you have an ‘Invalid driver version/game’.  This is because of the Steam Community overlays.

  1. At your game library list in Steam, just right-click the Battlefield 2 icon
  2. Select Properties
  3. Go to the General tab
  4. UN-select the ‘Enable Steam Community In-Game’ option.
  5. Voila

Yes, annoying.  Can’t believe old games like this haven’t been re-modified by steam to not need the now-ancient PunkBuster system.  The fact they’ve had to update PunkBuster to be separate Windows Services now in order to work shows you it’s time to see that stuff go.

Worst Non-profits in Oregon

Worst Non-profits in Oregon

Tis the season for giving.  I’m a fan of charities, and regularly set aside 10% of my income for charitable giving.  But how do you check to see if that guy standing on the street corner is a *real* charity; or if that charity actually will get the money to those in need?  After Bono’s ONE charity scandal this year, we are learning how to be more careful with our giving:

According to New York Post investigation of tax records – of the just under $15 million that U2 singer Bono’s ONE charity collected in 2008 – only $184,732 was distributed to actual aid organizations. $8 million went to executive pay and most of the rest went to ad agencies for promotions.

Turns out that the Oregon Department of Justice allows you to look up the records of your favorite charity to see if they actually *are* a charity, and also to see exactly how much of that money they’re gathering is actually going to the cause; and how much of it’s going into their own pockets.  To be considered a charity, a charity cannot have over 35% of their money going to ‘administration’.  While 35% is still a huge amount of potential abuse IMHO, it’s the law at the moment and I can understand it for some particular causes.  My own take is that the charities I give to are in the 10% or less in overhead category (90%+ going to actual programs).

While not an exhaustive list of dubious charities, the official Top 20 worst charities in Oregon for 2010 are mind-numbingly bad with about half of them under 20% going to actual programs/aid.

Here’s the list with the percentages of how much goes to their actual activities.  In order for them to be considered in accord with a non-profit, these numbers need to be 65% or HIGHER.  I encourage you to check out your charity, and give to those that will do the most good with the money you give.

Shiloh International Ministries 3.63%
Purpose: To provide medical necessities and moral support to needy children and to
provide assistance to the homeless

Law Enforcement Education Program 6.26%
Purpose: To educate teenagers on the effects of alcohol

Korean War Veterans National Museum and Library  7.03%
Purpose: To preserve a record of participation in the Korean War, educate the public, and to promote friendship among vets

Foundation for American Veterans, Inc. 10.22%
Purpose: Promoting social and recreational welfare for current and past U.S. Armed Forces members, dependents, widows, widowers and others

Dogs Against Drugs/Dogs Against Crime  10.30%
Purpose: Drug Education and Crime Prevention

National Vietnam Veterans Foundation 10.92%
Purpose: Support of Veterans Organizations

Firefighters Charitable Foundation 11.09%
Purpose: To provide financial assistance to individuals affected by a fire or disaster

Committee for Missing Children 11.51%
Purpose: Distribution of photos of missing children, education and case management, and the development of an international database

The Wishing Well Foundation 11.57%
Purpose: Fulfilling the fondest wish of any terminally ill child not expected to reach 18 years of age

Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund 13.16%
Purpose: To provide legal assistance to law enforcement officers

Disabled Police Officers of America
Purpose: Educational Programs for Police Officers

Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center, Inc. 14.84%
Purpose: Assist disabled police officers

Foundation for Children with Cancer (formerly Reach Our Children)
Purpose: To provide financial assistance to families with children with pediatric cancer

American Medical Research Organization 16.19%
Purpose: To support medical research in the cause, cure, and treatment of macular degeneration

National Veterans Service Fund, Inc. 20.44%
Purpose: Inform and educate in conjunction with service-related illnesses and work to raise public awareness of the contributions veterans make to our society

Children’s Leukemia Research Association, Inc. 20.49%
Purpose: To support research efforts into the causes and cure of leukemia and to provide assistance with expenses incurred in leukemia treatment

Dakota Indian Foundation 21.55%
Purpose: Assist in education of Indian people and preservation of Native American culture

Cancer Support Services  22.27%
Purpose: To support the charitable mission of Cancer Fund of America and to provide financial support to indigent cancer patients

Project Cure, Inc. 24.28%
Purpose: Increasing public and professional awareness about the prevention, detection, and treatment of various chronic diseases

Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth 24.53%
Purpose: To provide free services 24 hours a day 7 days a week regarding missing youth

Adobe registration box always keeps popping up

Adobe registration box always keeps popping up

If you have any of the Adobe suite and continually get the registration box when starting the app (even if you’ve filled it out 10 times before or told it not to register) you’re in good company.  You just need to start the app in Administrator mode, make you registration/hit the don’t register button, and THEN the registry can be properly updated.

Thanks again UAC for messing up my life in weird, cryptic ways that not one grandmother would ever be able to figure out.  But I’ve ranted about this before

Legalization of marijuana

Legalization of marijuana

Despite all the predictions it was going to be a slam-dunk, California didn’t get the legalization of marijuana passed on their last ballot – and by a good margin.  Someone asked for the reason I wouldn’t vote for it if a similar bill if it came up here in Oregon and I decided to respond.  Personally, I could care less about the legalization/non-legalization of weed for the most part.  I find dedicating yourself to it’s cause seems kinda juvenile to me – but hey – to each their own.  But on to the arguments I hear most often:

Argument #1. “Everyone is smoking it – marijuana should just be legalized already”
Well, I don’t smoke marijuana. I thought it was a stupid way to blow $60+.  I got a lot more fun out of other things for the same price such as going to a concert or a great dinner out with friends. And just because everyone is smoking marijuana doesn’t mean that the practice should be legalized. Making that argument is like telling your mom that everyone else is jumping off a bridge so you’ll be joining them. This argument feels more like a peer-pressure play than making a fact based, logical decision based on empirical data.

Argument #2. “Marijuana has all kinds of medicinal uses”
To this argument, I would say you should petition to get it legally approved and regulated by the FDA as a helpful drug. I’d probably support that position. By claiming that it is a powerfully helpful drug AND safe for lifelong recreational use doesn’t seem to hold in common experience. No other substance has the precedent of being a powerful medicinal agent AND being totally safe for daily recreational use.  You could make the same arguments about alcohol; but it is also frequently cited by the legalization crowd as worse than marijuana (see next item). I find the argument that smoking marijuana is safe for lifelong recreational use and at the same time be a powerfully helpful drug to be hard to swallow without more evidence. I’d like the FDA to decide which category it should fall in.

Argument #3: “Alcohol is worse, and it’s legal!”
This bill for the legalization of marijuana doesn’t have anything to do with the legal/moral/ethical standing of alcohol (which has it’s own problems). Legalization of marijuana would not change anything about alcohol use, so the argument is kind of invalid.  Go pass a law to outlaw alcohol if you feel that strongly.  There’s nothing in this argument that shows how marijuana smoking is a benefit to our society other than kind of pointing at the neighbors (alcohol) and saying “Well, THEY’RE doing it”.
Now that I’m in my late 30’s I’ve personally seen too many of my own friend’s lives apparently affected negatively by long-term smoking. I had the experience at the place of my work that several coworkers ask what was wrong with the two guys who are regular smokers during/after meetings because they are pretty slow on the uptake and becoming more so each year. This slowness is becoming an issue for their employment. These effects might just be a correlation but behavioral and addiction medicine psychologist do see higher correlations of marital and personal problems from regular users. Just check out any of Dr. Drew’s comments about this from Loveline on the matter.
Rarely is it a good idea to escape into a substance to deal with stress or issues in your life.  It often leads to you not actually learning how to deal with them in a constructive, adult way.  The result is that years down the road you may find yourself less developed/mature than others in your age group.

Argument #4: “Isn’t it a terrible/social justice problem that so many (African-American) people are in jail because of casual use? It should not be a crime to casually smoke.”
Yes, the problem of jails full of people who have not committed any crime other than smoking joints is problematic; but it doesn’t logically follow that we should legalize something. What about speeding? Lots of people get those tickets – but we don’t legalize that. I’d support minimally criminalizing it like making it a misdemeanor with a hefty fine/ticket – but the argument of legalization is still falling short. Tickets/fines would raise money – which brings us to:

Argument #5: “Legalization and taxation will raise much needed money for California”
Almost every major study of the financial effects of proposed legalization/taxation plans show that the amounts raised would be far too small to make any significant difference to the California budget. California’s budget is in the top 10 LARGEST budget in the WORLD. Its budget is bigger than most countries. I think it’s safe to say that California’s budget problems are not caused by the non-legalization of marijuana.
I actually believe that it would end up COSTING more money to legalize (at least initially) because you’ll likely have all kinds of new legal problems. Is marijuana a drug that needs FDA testing/regulation?  If it’s a drug, then can it be grown and sold by anyone for recreational use?  Do medical plans need to cover it? What are the covered conditions? Are there new government agencies that need to be staffed to regulate growth/distribution/safety? I’ll argue there will be lawsuits from these issues that might take years and tons of money to work out.

Argument #6. “We’d all be better if we could just smoke up baby. Peace and love will surely follow for everyone!”
Reduced capacity does not solve problems. Lighting up a dried weed and inhaling chemicals into your body has not scientifically been proven as a good way to deal with problems. That argument makes as much sense as drinking fermented corn squeezings to deal with marital problems.

I could honestly care less about marijuana legalization but I find almost all the arguments in favor to be logically flawed or do not make a good case for why it SHOULD be legalized. I just don’t see how legalization really adds something valuable, beautiful, and noble to our society.