January 30, 2005

Europeans Gone Wild

This policy is enough to offend even my humble sensibilities (thanks, Wilson.)

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:13 PM | TrackBack

January 29, 2005

Napoleon Dynamite

For those of you unfortunate enough to be familiar with Napoleon Dynamite, this should amuse you. (family friendly)

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:32 PM | TrackBack

January 28, 2005

Are You Owed Real DVD's?

If you've bought MGM Widescreen DVD's in the last couple of years, you may be entitled to an upgrade or a refund. Be sure to check this website before March 31 and submit a claim if you are eligible.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:38 PM | TrackBack

January 27, 2005

Illegal Immigration

This afternoon, I was reading this article about problems with the Social Security Administration not following up on evidence of identity theft on Social Security numbers and on potential illegal situations regarding the use of spurious numbers. As I was reading, this quote really, REALLY bothered me:

MSNBC.com research and government reports suggest hundreds of thousands of American citizens are in the same spot -- unknowingly lending their identity to illegal immigrants so they can work... It's a thorny problem that cuts to the heart of America's undocumented worker issue. Immigration opponents say it's another reason to shut the borders tight; immigrant rights groups point out that identity theft is an inevitable outcome of unfair labor laws that push foreign visitors deeper into the shadows. Either way, immigrant imposters with the least nefarious of intentions -- simply a desire to work -- often unknowingly victimize the rightful Social Security number holders.

Does this sound crazy to anyone else? Since when did illegal aliens become "foreign visitors" and victims of "unfair labor laws" who are "unknowingly victimizing" citizens by defrauding the government? And while we're at it, who gave illegal aliens rights to begin with?

All of this leads into the Cynic's plan to stop illegal immigration. First, let's define the problem: We have hundreds of thousands if not millions of illegal immigrants dwelling in the United States today, fleeing the poverty of Mexico to work in the U.S... illegally. The current penalty for crossing the border illegally is a one-night stay in a federal prison and deportation... or "go back and try again." Oh yeah, and attempting to help in an illegal immigration is a misdemeanor offense. This all amounts to an essentially unregulated, unprotected border with an unstable country known for its tendancy towards despotic anarchy. Can anyone say "national security issue?"

My solution is threefold:

  1. Assistance in illegal immigration needs to be a felony, punishable by stiff fines and jail time. If you are here on some sort of legal naturalization program, this should be grounds to revoke your papers and send you packing to your country of origin.

  2. Prison work programs, similar to those used for POW's and the like. The leaky border with Mexico is a national security problem, so those crossing the border are potential terrorists and must be contained. Thus, we get two years of work out of them and in exchange they get a bed and 3 square meals a day. At the end of two years, they are deported to Mexico after being carefully identified and entered into the computer system. Second offense is 5 years encarceration. Third offense is 20 years. After that, it's prison for life.

  3. Every Mexican citizen caught attempting to illegally cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. represents a problem with Mexican border control as much as American border control. Thus, repeated failures of Mexican border control should result in some sort of repurcussions. Set a maximum number of failures per year, something like 5,000, and after that, Mexico loses $10,000US in foreign aid per verified illegal entry. This ought to give the Mexican government incentive to control the border. Oh, and give them a $100,000US incentive for every one under 5,000 they are, so that they can have more aid to improve their country and border guard.

I know it sounds uncaring and unsympathetic, but I really believe that if we are going to have laws about immigration, we need to stick to them. Illegal immigrants should be given 3-6 months warning to get out of the country when these laws take effect, and after that, it's open season on them. Heck, even offer a bounty for undocumented illegal foreign nationals.

With laws like these in place and a lid on illegal immigration, legal immigration can be boosted and deserving foreign nationals can get into the U.S. And then maybe we can fix our warped policy on Cuba.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:40 PM | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

Statistical Entertainment

There are lots of fun little statistics and conclusions on teen sexuality in this article, including gems like this:

Teens with a Catholic parent (72%) are more likely to not have had sex because they are worried what their parents will think than those with a Protestant parent (63%) or another religious background (57%).

Those whose parents are better educated are more likely to say they have not had intercourse because of their religious or moral beliefs and less likely to say they have not out of a fear of catching an STD.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:48 PM | TrackBack

Come Join Us!

Ardith and Gallagher, come become contributing members of the Windows community without leaving Linux behind. All you need is a copy of Wine and this little tutorial as your guide.

note: the above link should be amusing to just about everyone, but should be especially applicable to any Linux users in the house. That said, I should not be construed as condoning the intentional or unintentional use of or spreading of virii... please consult the webpage owner for more details... FDIC, FAA, FDA, and FTC approved... please talk to your doctor to see if Linux is right for you...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 06:16 PM | TrackBack

January 19, 2005

Tsunami Aid

Attention slackers:

Anders Jacobsen has is calling out the blogging community and offering to toss $1 to the Red Cross for every blogger who puts up on their site the list that I've included below. Also, Eliot Landrum is matching Anders' contribution... so copy the source below and help donate $2 (in addition to any of your own money that you give to those sites.)

The following is a list of organizations who are currently helping out in the affected areas:

International aid organizations:

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)

United Nations’ World Food Programme

Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors without Borders (donate!)
CARE International
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Disasters Emergency Comittee (DEC) - comprises a raft of aid agencies, including the below and others

British Red Cross
Save the Children UK

North America:
American Red Cross
Canadian Red Cross
Save The Children
Oxfam America

Anders Jacobsen: Webloggers: Give to tsunami victims and I’ll give too!

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:33 PM | TrackBack

The Weekend is Coming

Here it is Wednesday evening and I am happily looking forward to the weekend for two reasons:

1) We're going to be ponding Paige for her birthday on Friday... regardless of the temperature or how many people she musters to her defense.
2) Friday is now an especially significant day of the week (warning: not family-friendly)

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 07:25 PM | TrackBack

January 15, 2005


As I have been personally involved in both the organization of the Independent and spreading the news of the controversy attendant to its dismantling, I feel it necessary to post on the ensuing chaos of the past 48 hours.

Up until evening on Thursday, I was of the sure opinion that Dr. Austin had indeed called the prospective editor of the Independent and had ordered it shut down. While I am admittedly guilty of not following up on information myself, I would have to say that my position as a fairly highly-placed editor within the Independent did not predispose me to going and looking for what could amount to be trouble. On Friday, a flurry of damage control came from administration, including several administrators who I respect and trust a great deal, basically saying that allegations were false. I think my friend Wilson sums the whole thing up very nicely.

All that to say, is that I am now in an interesting position of not knowing what's going on. Some have said that there is a natural tendancy to villify LU Admin... and I would respond that this is due to a natural tendancy of LU Admin to withhold and repress information and color the information that is released to the students in such a way that they are not trusted. Combine this with a couple of controversial disciplinary moves that they've made and you've got yourself a lack of trust on the part of the student body. Others will fairly assert that the administration has done very well by the students on many occasions, and I will agree to some extent or another... and I will really say that someone should have done some follow-up before I published a post like I did a couple of days ago, LeTourneau deserves at least that much benefit of the doubt.

Where does this leave me? Trying to figure out what really happened.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 07:23 PM | TrackBack

January 13, 2005

A Dream that Died

Some clarifications on what was to be The Independent:

The publication in question was intended to be a non-profit independent newspaper to serve as a service to the students and the community. While the authors and editorial staff would have been compensated for their time and efforts in the form of pay (rather than class credit as with school publications), the paper itself filed for non-profit status in the vein of The Dartmouth Review.

It has been suggested that perhaps faculty or the Student Senate could take up the cause of the paper. Insofar as support from the Senate or the Faculty is concerned, I would be hesitant to ask any such groups to stick their necks out on something like this. The attitude taken by Dr. Austin is such that I don't think that the University would brook any opposition in this matter. That said, I suppose I could ask a senator or two to look into it. However, especially as far as student organizations go, the express point of an independent newspaper is to be outside of the school's purview, so I really don't think it would have been a good idea. Even moreso, I feel that involving faculty would be a bad idea with the way that Dr. Austin feels about this as he is their boss and I wouldn't want to endanger their careers. In short, I guess we might talk to Senators, but this thing seems to be quite dead.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:00 PM | TrackBack

January 11, 2005

Alvin O. Austin

Bearing in mind that this is second-hand knowledge, I'm rather irritated and want to get this out there:

As some of you may or may not know, a group of students came together at the end of last semester with the idea or running an independent campus publication at LeTourneau University. The idea was to run it better than the Yellow Jacket had been run and to make a paper that the students would want to read and would be proud of.

Plans were in place to run the first edition of the paper this Friday, and people were excited. Then President Austin found out. Without going into a whole lot of details that I'm shaky on, he called up the prospective editor of the independent paper this afternoon and told him not to publish. He furthered that if the paper was published, the staff would be expelled and the paper would be sued by the school. There was no tone of compromise, no inquiry as to the purpose of an independent paper... merely the promise and threat of a scorched-earth campaign directed at the staff of such a paper in the event of noncompliance.

Right now, I'm kind of numb. I was really looking forward to this, as a chance to do some journalism outside of the constraints of the Yellow Jacket and to get pay to do fun work. I had even gotten so far as to thinking out some fun articles I wanted to write about LeTourneau and just what a good time we could have with an unfettered paper and with a real budget that the editorial staff had secured through advertising. Talk about your let-downs...

All I want to know is how someone can do something like that to a group of his own students and claim to be a man of God and to be leading a campus in the direction that God wants us to go.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:48 PM | TrackBack

January 08, 2005

Cheerleader Toss

If you love the thought of sadistically throwing cheerleaders at basketball hoops and out of windows, this site is for you. This warped link is rated PG for use of the words "underwear" and "dweeb."

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:56 PM | TrackBack

January 07, 2005

My Fault

In case some of you hadn't noticed, shadowcouncil.org was down for about 12 hours earlier today... that was my fault. Rather, at least half my fault and partially the fault of the impatient people at hosting matters who charged a credit card without money in it and closed down the account within 24 hours. I will beg off on the fact that I was travelling and sleeping during the majority of that period of time.

All of that said, it's my fault that things went down...

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 05:49 PM | TrackBack

January 06, 2005

Back in Texas

As I happily sit in my chair in the Ice Cave (which feels a tad too thawed), I am proud to be reading about Cheese Racing. You should enjoy it.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:58 PM | TrackBack

January 05, 2005

Something to Ponder

While you're waiting for some of my really substantive posts to be finished and polished (I have two in the works), read this entertaining Christmas pondering:

Santa Claus: An Engineer's Perspective

I. There are approximately 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Jehovah's Witnesses, or Buddist religions, this reduces the workload on Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau). At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

II. Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with at least one good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, jump out, go down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump in the sleigh, and move on to the next house. (That's why it's really pointless to stay up and wait for him....)

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom breaks. This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3000 times the speed of sound. For the purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a pokey 75.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

III. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child has nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull nothing more than 300 pounds. Even granted that "flying" reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or nine of them; Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the sleigh itself, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizibeth (the ship, not the monarch).

IV. 600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance; this would heat up the reindeer in the same fasion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and causing deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.2 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reaches the fifth house on his trip. Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 miles per second in .001 seconds, would be subjected to centrifugal forces of 17,500 G's. A 250 pound Santa (which seem ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pound of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

V. Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:52 PM | TrackBack

January 04, 2005

Laptop with Cheese

I've gone and found the ideal laptop carrying case for someone who thinks that a pizza is less likely to get stolen than a laptop. Obviously, this would be a bad idea at LeTourneau... though I could see Moore carrying his laptop in the PowerPizza case just for good measure.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:39 AM | TrackBack

January 03, 2005

Got Rights?

You know, whenever I start reading about our new policies for dealing with accused terrorists, it starts to give me the willies. Namely, it would appear that the Pentagon and the feds are developing a policy of lifetime detention for accused terrorists and captured "non-lawful combatants."

Bear in mind that this is only rumor from an unconfirmed news source, but Reuters is confident enough in that to publish the linked article... *shudders*

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:44 PM | TrackBack

January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:00 AM | TrackBack