Signing an Amendment’s Death Warrant

Posted by Mike Merritt in Politics on | No Comments

Ok, so it’s voting an amendment’s death, but I needed something catchy to cover two issues.

For those who don’t know, the Flag Desecration Amendment died in the Senate by one vote…yep, one. If it had passed, it would had been sent to the states for ratification. That was one close shave, in yet another attempt to legislate non-hurtful free speech. Like I said in my previous FDA entry, I’m against desecration myself. However, it is a form of free speech which has been ruled by the Supreme Court to be as such in the past, twice. I’m glad that it has been upheld, but it will probably be brought back against next session, given its close shave.
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Introducing Maya!

Posted by Mike Merritt in Dymersion, Personal Life on | No Comments

I’m proud to introduce Maya! Who or what is Maya, you say? Maya is our new puppy! We had been looking around for the last week or so, and today my parents and sister brought her home. Maya is a female black lab, possibly mixed, who’s 10 weeks old. Oh, and the name is not rock solid, but I like it, so I’m sticking by it unless I find out otherwise. Everyone else seems to like it, so I’m guessing it’ll stay.

 

MySpace Under Fire Again; Provides Solutions

Posted by Mike Merritt in Websites on | No Comments

MySpace is under scruitiny again after a 14-year old was sexually assaulted by a 19-year old she met on the website.

It seems that MySpace is going under the microscope a lot lately, and its easy to see why. The whole idea of an open, easy-to-use community center is attractive for those who’d want to harm someone. Likewise, a website that lets you provide a lot of details about yourself is equally as attractive. MySpace is both. Luckily, they’re being smart and trying to protect kids.

They’ve already introduced the partial profile, meaning that kids under 16 only have part of their profiles shown unless you’re on their friends list. They also started introducing advertisments aimed toward these users, warning them of the danger of associating with unknown adults. This time, they’ve taken the efforts several steps further. Users above eighteen will no longer be able to request to be friended unless they know the person’s email address or full name. I’m a little skeptical on this one…it seems to me, that unless you are tons of miles away from them, finding out this information might not be so difficult.

MySpace also now allows anybody to use the partial profile feature, and they’ll be able to opt only contact from people in their age group. In addition, MySpace is going to change advertising to not show more adult-oriented advertising to kids. Good…maybe it’s because I’m already over 18 and they’re targeted at me, but seeing those “True” ads on a website known for its youthful userbase is a little creepy to me.

In the end, though, no matter what MySpace does, keeping yourself safe comes down to common sense. The website can only do so much – you must be proactive in keeping yourself safe. I don’t want to preach, but it’s true. The dark-side of the Internet is nothing new. It’s happened on other kinds of websites, and in Internet Relay Chatrooms for years. One thing MySpace cannot do is effectively stop a kid under 14 from joining. If there’s anything I know from my time on the Internet (and from personal experience), an age barrier is NOT really a barrier at all. So, nobody can really complain to MySpace about that. So, in the end, a combination of the technical, and the common sense, provides the most effective protection.

 

Flag Desecration Amendment

Posted by Mike Merritt in Constitution, Politics on | No Comments

So, as anyone knows, the absurd Marriage Amendment died in Congress (again) about a week ago because cloture failed to be invoked in the Senate. So, time to try and pass another absurd amendment! Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve the Flag Desecration Amendment (H.J. Res. 10/S.J. Res. 12), and it now moves to the Senate Floor. It was approved by the House last year. Now, let me put it out there right now (before y’all call me unpatriotic) that I don’t personally support flag burning, flag wrecking, etc. I love the flag, and I love my country. I just don’t like our dear President, his cohorts, and the ones in Congress who share his views.

That said, what I do support is free speech, so long as it is not hurting people (physically or mentally enough to drive them insane or suicidal, etc.) or is trying to incite someone to hurt another person. Therefore, I fail to see where flag burning or another form of desecration is hurting anybody. So, lets virtually fast-forward for a minute and pretend this amendment passes. As far as I can tell (and I could be wrong), this would be the first law incorporated into the Constitution that would limit speech. There are of course, common laws that limit speech for one reason or another, but none that is in the nation’s highest document.

So, if we’re banning flag burning, what next? No protesting? No speaking out against the government? Perhaps I’m thinking in alarmist terms, but this flag thing is the tip of the iceberg in my mind. This administration and its related Congressonal allies already do not have a good track record on protecting our personal liberties. So, maybe I’m just being optimistic, but I don’t thinking bringing this up now is going to help in the election a party already hurt by scandal, Iraq, gas prices (though they can’t do much about that), and the failed Marriage Amendment, among other things.

Our President says he invaded Iraq to bring them freedom. Yet, here at home, attempts are being made by our Congress to limit freedom. And…wait, I thought all those big, bad terrorists hated freedom and that we were trying to protect this freedom, not just for us, but for everyone? So, yes, the flag is a symbol of freedom, and should be respected. On the other hand, freedom is the ability to (peacefully) protest against your government when you don’t agree with them. So, exactly what message does this proposed ban send? I don’t think it sends a good one. Wake up, Congress, and smell the freedom, if it isn’t stuffed somewhere smelly. I’m tempted to write a line that uses the “If [this] happens, the terrorists are winning,” but that seems so cliche, and sounds kind of threatening. So, instead, here’s to hoping the ban fails on the Senate floor, like the Marriage Amendment did.

 

Flag Day was two days ago!

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life on | No Comments

Eh, I guess I’ll leave it up until after Independence Day. Nothing like some patriotism.

Anyway, been a while since I’ve done a “What Have I Been Up To” entry, so here goes.

Haven’t done a whole lot since Summer started. I’ve been helping out some at my parent’s store, and procrastinating on finding an actual paying job.

Also, a couple week ago, I met a guy who does video production professionally and owns his own business. I met him up at his house, and saw his equipment, which is nice. He has a little studio set up behind his house, which is also nice.

I just helped with him on a four camera shoot today, which we set up for yesterday. The shoot was of a band of recovering alcoholics and drug users. They were playing over at Cheney Tech, trying to send a message. I’m glad to be back doing that again, even though my job kinda sucked (getting the crowd reaction, even though there was little reaction worth shooting), but I got a few good things. In July, I’ll probably help him shoot this Civil War reenactment that he says is going to have a large amount of people participating (in the reenactment). I’m a history buff, so it’s a perfect match. So, in all, I’m glad to be getting some more practice and experience.

So, I don’t know what else is coming up. I want to get a job, so I need to get in gear on that.

Tonight, I’ll be going to see X-Men 3. So, if you’re also interested, give me a call. Those privy to my AIM screen name can check my away message or profile for that. I’ll be going to the 7:35pm showing at Showcase. Though, I expect most people have seen it. But, if you’re interested, let me know.

 

R.I.P. B.J. Merritt, 1995-June 14, 2006

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life on | No Comments

Birth year might be wrong, since I just don’t remember, but I believe it’s been about 11 years. So, today was the day we put her to sleep. For the last week or so, she had been inactive and lethargic. Most of the time, she wasn’t eating her food, so she had trouble walking due to no energy. The pills she was taking for her peeing problem were no longer working, and she was throwing up a lot. The second most visible sign, the “tail meter” (as the vet put it), was just no longer moving. The vet said that as long as the tail was moving, she was pretty good. So, all that put together told us it was time.

She was a good dog. Always playful and perpetually begging, we loved her dearly, and still love her dearly. She acted tough to strangers…for about 3 seconds. Then she came to sniff you all over and maybe lick your hand. I remember that every time someone came home, she’d want to go out, so she’d end up going out about six times a day. For B.J., not getting some human food for supper was probably her worst days. But, she took all days in stride, and wasn’t a dog to whine in pain, even though she hit her forehard more times than I can count. She was strong willed, and fun to be around. She was part of my life for the majority of it and she will be missed. Rest in peace, B.J. 🙂

 

Dog

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life on | No Comments

Well, the time we (my family) has feared for some time seems to be upon us. I’ll start at the beginning:

Last fall my dog, B.J. began to develop a tumor in her belly. When my parents took her to the vet, they were told they could operate, but there were no guarentees it would work. Well, we simply did not have the money for such a thing, so they chose to let B.J. live out her final months until it was too painful for her. So, they were told we had until Christmas. Some present, right?

Well, now it’s June, and I think it’s a blessing that she’s been with us for this long. Well, late last week, she started not eating. As I saw yesterday, she is having trouble walking (due to lack of food, that is, if she hasn’t injured herself), she’s throwing up everywhere (I first noticed it on Friday), and…she’s just really not well. My parents were told she’d eventually probably hemorrage, and I think that time is here, if not close. My dad thinks that this week is her last, and I’m inclined to agree, though, we’ll put her to sleep to alleviate pain I’m sure.

This is the pet I’ve know since my middle school years, and I’ll be sad to see her go. On the other hand, she’s had a long life compared to some of her other little. A few weeks after they got her, my parents got a call from the Humane Society, saying that most of her litter developed some disease, and that those puppies were dead. Only she and one other puppy lived. So, if I have to give her one outstanding quality, it’d have some perseverence. She stayed alive then, and then again after the doctor’s prognosis. She’s also rather good a begging. But, unfortunately, I don’t think that quality is helpful anymore, and it hurts me to see it. However, I also know that she’s led a long life, so though it’ll be sad to see her go, I’ll try and remember the good times.

 

Network Neutrality

Posted by Mike Merritt in Politics on | No Comments

I have a couple posts to attend to tonight. Since this topic is fresh on my mind, it’ll go first.

Do you want Internet Service Providers like Cox Cable, AT&T, and others to control where you can go on the Internet? Neither do I. That’s what opponents of network neutrality want, though. Or at least, something like that, once you’ve wiped away the hype. Maybe it’s not in the plans currently, but it could happen. Imagine some greedy executive declaring that users will no longer be able to access their competitor’s website. Or, that such an executive says that users who want to visit video-heavy websites like YouTube will have to pay extra to visit those websites, because they incur more bandwidth than, say, visiting this website.
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Hail to the Dymersion

Posted by Mike Merritt in Dymersion on | No Comments

Well, I’m happy to report that the layout is finally all but complete complete, months after I started. Not much more has been added, but you might notice the header has a few more elements. They’re parts of the originally design, but I had a problem when I added them, and frustrated, I opted to leave them out. I finally got it to work correctly, so there is it.

You may also notice a change to the “Extras” section, in the form of the change of the “Not Including Images” italicized noticed below the Creative Commons notice to “Unless Otherwise Noted.” Early in the site’s life, I decided what I should do about images. I knew I wanted to CC license the site, including images and photos. Then I included an image taken not by myself, but by a family member. Not my work; I don’t own it, so I have no license to be including it with the CC works. So, I decided to have people contact me if they really wanted to use an image.

As not to inconvenience you, I’ve decided to try my best to note when images or photos are not mine. Images that are mine will be found in my photo gallery…if I remember to upload them to there. I’ll also try and make an effort to include a notice with images I post that are not mine. So, there it is.
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The Day of the Beast

Posted by Mike Merritt in Rambling on | No Comments

Here is it, the one day for the next 100 years that people with Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia fear the most. They of course have nothing to fear if the real number is actually 616, but that’s difficult to tell.

Anyway, I post because, if you don’t know, some people are not taking the day sitting down. That’s right! The little hamlet of Hell, Michigan is partying today! See the story at CNN. That’s it for now, but perhaps something meatier later today.