Want Small Minded? Look in a Mirror.

Posted by Mike Merritt in Rambling, Religion on | No Comments

If there’s anything I hate just as much as people trying to shove religion down someone’s throat, or people who are closed-minded to other ways of living one’s life, it’s people who are closed-minded to the fact that people may have a faith…which I suppose is a subset of the second thing I hate.

On one of the forums I help run, there was recently a debate over whether God exists. As always, these things never come to a conclusion, usually go in circles forty times over, and end up going rotten with the one or two people who get into a fight, although this one did not. Now, this entry isn’t about what I think about the issue (if you’re that curious, I’m somewhere between agnostic and athiest), but about the way people respond to the issue.

Usually, on one extreme, you have the full-fledged bible-thumping believers who make it their mission to preach everywhere they can. Then you have the people who don’t believe, never have believed, never will believe, and scorn those who do believe. Finally, you have everyone else somewhere in the middle. The person in question was somewhere closer to the latter extreme. He called those who believed “fools.” Now, I understand it’s his opinion, but I don’t think anyone who believes in God or attends church should be scorned as such. Doing so is just as bad as a bible-thumper telling someone they’ll rot in hell unless they accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

Luckily, most people are not like either extreme. They’ll respect someone’s choice to follow or not follow a faith. However, people who preach and/or scorn people for their beliefs bugs the living daylights out of me. Debate is good. Scorn is not, and only leads to problems further down the road. I was happy to see that the topic in question lasted without many problems, a first for that type of discussion on that forum.

Remember, tolerance and healthy debate. Not scorn.


DJ Dan September 24th Live Show Summary

Posted by Mike Merritt in Websites on | No Comments

I’m listening to the DJ Dan Live Podcast tonight. I’ll attempt to provide as much of an up-to-date summary of what’s going on, for those who can’t get a spot in the audience on iTunes or WMP.

12:53AM – Hanso is under house arrest, Mittlewerk is responsible for everything, and Rachel is Hanso’s daughter. The end? Only time will tell. But, one thing it is the end of…the end of the night for me. Time for bed.

12:32AM – Holy crap. Thomas Mittlewerk just blew up The Hanso Foundation building! Rachel gave us instructions to go to abc.com and view her final video, and with that, Dan signed off.

12:18AM – OMG!!!!!! Rachel!

12:10AM – Dan has been having some problems getting calls to air. He’s suggested everything from technical difficulties to The Hanso Foundations for reasons the calls are failing.

11:59PM – Dan feels that the Valenzetti Equation should be shared with the whole world, and that The Hanso Foundation should let the public see Gary Troup’s book.

11:44PM – The announcer, Johnny, just summarized TLE in about two minutes. 183 licks to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop. Dan will clearly have a mental breakdown if Rachel was The Man.


11:33PM – Top five mind-control substances in Apollo bars: 5)Lymon 4)Zantham Gum 3)Parsley 2)Donut Extract 1)Season 1 of MASH

11:29PM – Never knew how much of a jerk he is. 😛 Shut down three people so far.

11:24PM – Marvin the Martian? He claims he knows about TLE. And now Dan is about to take calls.

11:18PM – After discussing the virtues of roaches, Dan is going on a philosophical rant about whether or not Lost, Hanso, and himself are real.

11:07PM – Nothing we didn’t know, but Dan just confirmed Rachel Blake’s participation in the show.

11:05PM – He’s on!

11:02PM – Nothing Yet. A few minutes ago, some guy said they’re working out technical problems. Will update again when he gets on.


Don’t Cross Me

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life on | No Comments

I have again taken the Political Compas survey. From the last time I took it, I’ve apparently moved slightly further left economically, and have gotten slightly more authoritarian. Here are the two graphs:

My Political Compass - First Time

My Political Compass - Second Time

Funny how these things can change. If you want to find out where you stand, and because franky, the whole Liberal-Conservative line kind of sucks to study a person, take the survey at the Political Compass website.


Couple Updates

Posted by Mike Merritt in Dymersion on | No Comments

Well, in order to try and combat the spam problem. I’ve signed up for Akismet, the anti-spam service from the same guys who gave us WordPress. I’m hoping it’ll work better than MT’s system. So far, so good, but only time will tell. So, if you submit a comment, and it doesn’t get approved after a day or two, shoot me an email.

Also, time for the stats update! Not much change since last time, it’d appear. But, I was baffled at this search term: “statute of limitations on statutory rape – IL” What exactly on my blog has anything to do with that? If you know, please, let me know. The oddest network location of this week is, “Crest Foods Co.” More people surfing on the job? Tsk tsk. Ok, I’m no angel.

Anyway, time for bed.


The Most Ridiculous Old News of the Day

Posted by Mike Merritt in Websites on | No Comments

Sorry, I’m watching/laughing/partially agreeing with O’Reilly right now.

Today’s Dymersion is about a small piece of old news, that of the controversy over the Facebook mini-feeds. Now, while I agree that the feeds just make finding information all that easier, and Facebook has some responsibility to let people opt-out or remove themselves from the information, some of the things I saw during the period were just disgraceful. Campaigns taking what should be a good cause, and using it to complain about things that just don’t make sense.

Look, the fact is that most information on Facebook is opt-out. You don’t HAVE to provide almost any of the information on there. Likewise, you don’t HAVE to accept anybody as a friend. Heck, you can even set what’s called a “Limited Profile,” and let certain people see less information than your closest friends. Trying to blame Facebook for the information you can control is ignorant. They have two responsibilities in my eyes: 1) Not sharing your information without permission (see below) and 2) Not making that information easier to find than had been already possible.

Like I just said, Facebook has a responsibility not to share information with third parties without permission. So, I was a little angry when I learned of this “developers” program have me opted-in with even asking me. I never got any notice of it, or any screen asking me to opt-out if I didn’t want it. Now, while I understand these are not advertisers, once they have this information, they can do pretty much whatever they want with it. That is ridiculous.

However, other than that, only you can control what people see. Facebook can’t do that for you. What they can do is make sure the information is as difficult as possible to get, without making it too inconvenient. I considered the mini-feed too convenient. Otherwise, it’s up to you.


Remembering 9/11 Five Years On

Posted by Mike Merritt in Independence Week on | No Comments

On 9/11/01, nearly 3,000 people were murdered at the hands of people with a twisted view of the world. I was in study hall that day, studying for an English class vocabulary test, when another teacher came in to the room and spoke briefly to the study hall monitor. The monitor then turned on the TV, and I watched the coverage in shock and disbelief. I seem to remember not doing too well on my test. I then spent most of the rest of the day watching the coverage on TV.

It is people like these terrorists who have absolutely no concern for the lives of human beings. Every time they send out some taped message, they claim to be doing it for Allah, or for the Muslim people, but that is a lie. The terrorists would use their own people as shields if they has to. I’m not religious, but for lack of a better term, these people have no souls. To that extent, while I support the war on terror in purpose, but I think more effort needs to be focused on finding the likes of Osama. While this would not be a major blow to terrorism (someone would just step up to lead al-Queda), but he must face justice, if he has not done so already (due to bombings). But until we know for sure, that search must not end.

While I don’t think we should dwell on this day forever, we should never forget the people, and we should not forget that day. Never forget 9/11.


The Clash of Civilizations

Posted by Mike Merritt in Politics, Religion, Society on | No Comments

I am back up at school now, and among other classes, I’m taking one called “Culture and National Security.” For our first reading assignment, the professor gave us a text copy of an interview from a television show called Think Tank with Ben Watterberg. The episode, entitled “When Cultures Collide” features an interview with Samuel Huntington, known for his theory that post-Cold War conflicts would no longer feature nation-states, but rather civilizations. The basic thesis is that no longer will two or more nation-states, say the United States and Russia, battle for ideological dominance in the world, but rather that this fight will return to clashes rooted in antiquity, say Christianity against Islam, or Western values against the value system from other parts of the world.

I like to think that Huntington’s theory is starting to prove true. Yes, the current conflicts of our time officially have been the U.S. (and its allies) against Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and to a small extent, Cuba (though we don’t actively engage them in conflict anymore), but for most of these conflicts, I think it represents something deeper. The Korea and Cuba conflicts are still ideological for the most part, but what about that of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran? Here we have three countries where the norms and traditions are very foreign to somebody who lives in a Western nation. There are traditions and laws that somebody coming from the Americas or Europe might consider old fashioned, sexist, racist, or just plain barbaric. The fact that many do not understand the differences and why they exist already place a barrier between us and them, without creating any physical conflict at all. Likewise, people in the predominantly-Muslim nations may view our culture as something they do not understand.
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New York

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life on | No Comments

Lady Liberty

Just realized I never blogged about the New York trip.

We got into New Haven around about 9:30 in the morning. We stopped by Dunkin Donuts, and took the 9:57 train, and got to New York around 11:30.

It would had been faster just to subway to 49th street, but instead we walked down 42nd until we realized we were going the wrong way. So, we then turned around and finally got to 6th Ave, and worked our way up to 51st street, then crossed over to 7th Ave. Couldn’t pick much of a better spot. We were right up the road from Times Square, and right down the road from Central Park.

We were able to get in to our room right away, which was good given the time of day. After we were settled, we got a taxi to the dock from where the cruise took off. We all got hot dogs, and then went on the cruise. It was nice, and the tour guide was knowledgeable, and apparently a geology geek . 😛 Some bridge was broken, so we weren’t able to go up to the Harlem River, so they turned back and went as far north as possible, before returning to dock.

After the cruise, we went up 42nd Street and to Times Square, and looked around in that area for shopping, etc. Oh, did you know that 1 Times Square is a vacant building and they still make $20 million a year off it? That’s what that advertising will do for you.

After shopping, we went back up toward the hotel to look for some food. We finally found this deli, where our waitress kinda sucked. However, the food was good, and there was plenty of it, so that kind of made up for sucky service. After we ate, we hung around the room a bit. Then we took the subway to 34th street and went to the Empire State Building. I’ve never been to the 86th floor, so it was an experience, even if it was windy and chilly. I got some decent pictures, which can be found on my Flickr account.

The next day, we got up at 9:00am, and showered, then me and Amber went down to the pool while Aunt Anne got some breakfast. Afterward, we made our way to Central Park and walked around there a lot, went on the carousel, etc. We kept trying to find the zoo that’s there. We finally got to it, and it started pouring. So, we took a subway to 34th and went to the Manhattan Mall, and other smaller shops.

Around 4pm, we hopped on a subway, and went back to Grand Central Terminal. We did some shopping there, and were able to get a 5:07pm train back home, getting to New Haven around 6:30 or so.

Overall, the trip was fun because the last two times I’ve been there, it was as part of a school trip, or it was very cold. However, the rain could have held up for us. 😛 That put a bit of a damper in our second day plans, but we still had fun. If you want to see some more pictures, click on the picture of the Statue of Liberty.