Commentary, Travel

Canals of Ohio

06.30.08 | Permalink | 3 Comments
Canals of Ohio
Map of Canals of Ohio

It’s early on Monday morning and I find myself back in Ohio on the annual pilgrimage to visit family and friends in the state that is round on the ends and hi in the middle…In looking for an interesting visual to go along with this entry, I found an old canal map. That prompted a thought about the shift we’re seeing in population and economics in the state. These canals used to be the primary means to move bulk materials around the eastern portion of the US in the time before railroads.

As traditional industry dies around Ohio (steel, automaking, and associated trades and suppliers) it seems the state might be in for another tectonic shift, like the one moving from canals to railroads. It’s striking to see how quickly dispersion is happening in the state with a move of population from the urban areas to vast sprawls of suburbia – in turn retiring vast swaths of productive farm land for soul-less cookie cutter residences.

In the place of our visit, Greene County, what used to be a primarily gently rolling hills with soy beans, corn, pigs, and cows, has turned into a franchise ghetto where the shelf life for any particular enterprise seems to average 2 years or so. Already large hunks of retail space are sitting vacant while ever more retail spaces seem to be built and eradicating the open space. If the population was growing and there was a need for all this new building and infrastructure, that would be one thing. But Ohio isn’t growing.

The Pretenders were prescient in their song “Back to Ohio” where their pretty countryside had been paved down the middle by a government that had no pride.


Seen While Driving

06.28.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Seen While Driving

First look, at a distance…

What's on that truck?
Attribution: Unknown (mailed to me)

While passing, it’s clear this trucker has a sense of humor…

Tonka Truck as load on tractor trailer
Attribution: Unknown (mailed to me)

Well, it made me laugh anyway…..ah for the good old days with Tonka trucks and playing in the dirt.

HT: Josh


I Chose the Red Pill

06.27.08 | Permalink | 6 Comments
Blue pill or Red pill? You decide.

The film The Matrix has been widely discussed over the years since its release – and one of the most compelling scenes in the film, at least to me, was when the character Morpheus (the Greek god of dreams) offers the character Neo an opportunity to answer the question “What is the Matrix?” The choice is symbolized by the “blue pill” – make this choice and you’ll just go back to sleep and everything will go on as normal or the “red pill” which leads to the unknown, a revelation that is unpredictable and there’s no telling where it may lead, but things will definitely be different.

As I evolve (mature? age? become more experienced? wizened?) I have increasingly become uncomfortable trending toward enraged by the fraud perpetuated on human kind by religious organizations and their denizens. It’s unclear when exactly I took the red pill – unlike the Matrix there was no dramatic scene of choice – it’s been more gradual, a series of small choices that one day culminated in a sense of clarity. That was about 15 years ago.

At that time, I was content to live and let live. Really, who cares what another person believes provided they are a reasonable human being and one can interact with them in productive and constructive ways, it’s unimportant that they may subscribe to a philosophy that is grounded in willful lies, submitting themselves to external control by surrendering to a “higher power.” However, like the realization that this entire religious industry was a sham, it has become increasingly clear to me the purveyors of religion and to a large extent, the flock, are not content to live by the same philosophy of live and let live. Which means that someone, somewhere has to fight back and offer more red pills to the masses.

This week the Pew Forum released a report on religion and public lives, it’s very thorough and pretty disturbing to people who have taken the red pill (btw, it’s pretty clear to me that once one swallows the red pill, there is no going back and a number of illusions simply fall away.) 92% of Americans believe in some sort of god. Think about that for a moment, ~276 million people are walking around deluding themselves in some meaningful way. Is it any wonder that such a population is willfully spending and eating themselves into oblivion?

If we dig into the number a little bit, the news improves somewhat. 60% of Americans believe in a mystical god figure that is all-powerful and all-knowing with whom they might have a personal relationship. 25% of Americans are more “spiritual” than religious per se, believing in a more impersonal force that is unseen but present in our lives. Since science can’t (and likely won’t) explain everything, I can understand the impersonal belief in unseen forces (gravity, evolution, etc.) being present in our lives and affecting them directly, the other 60% is a mystery though.

Imagine going into work and learning that your company’s leadership all had a belief that wearing clown noses on Friday, eating a strict diet of all pork, and reading from a special book in a special place at a special time would lead to everlasting life and riches. You’d probably find other employment to get away from such delusional bozos. Well, to red pill takers, that’s how it sounds whenever a religious group infringes upon their lives and given the goofy beliefs, it makes it nearly impossible to take anything else such people have to offer seriously given that they’re so deeply entrenched in their beliefs that they can’t (or won’t) achieve perspective.

This is a long and rambling piece. Do I have a point? Perhaps. One way we could improve society is to make the red pill a more obvious choice and to promote it in a way that provides a powerful alternative to the status quo. I don’t give it much chance of success given that people are brainwashed from birth to have particular beliefs coupled with the fact that the blue pill is easy, most of your friends and family hold similar beliefs and there’s that comforting aspect that you’ll get your reward in the next life.

The red pill holds only stark truth. In the end, we’re meat. We’re here for a short time. It’s what we do in this life that matters and how we behave here and now that we can influence and control. The sum of those behaviors form our legacy and can affect generations to come in a very real way. The reward of the red pill is being present, being accountable for one’s own actions, and doing the right thing as a way of life – not because some mystical being will send you to everlasting torture if you choose poorly. The blue pill is comfortable with mystical rewards; the red pill requires work and holds no promise of rewards. In the end, that will likely be the reason most people won’t choose it. And that is a tragic outcome for us all.

Innovation, Technology & Science

Lawsuit in Waiting

06.27.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Lawsuit in Waiting

This is an autonomous sentry linked to a paintball gun. It’s laptop with control software, it’s very innovative, and the inventor will be lawsuit bait before it’s said and done. But it’s a very good demonstration of what is possible by integrating today’s technology. Here’s the home page, Paintball Sentry.

HT: Hacked Gadgets


So Long George

06.23.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on So Long George

If you haven’t heard, comedian George Carlin died yesterday of heart failure at age 71.

George, you were a cranky and clever dude, and for whatever reason, you never lost your edge. In fact, as you got older and wiser, it only seemed to get sharper. The world will be a little more drab without your commentary. You will be missed. Watch the video above on Stuff from Comic Relief in 1986 – it’s “clean” and it’s hilarious.

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