The problem is when your mind is limited, it’s really hard to be aware of how it’s limited. Because, you know, you’re not even aware. True original thought is so contrary to our ingrained pre-programmed mental pathways that if we actually had one it would bite us in the ass.
Perhaps heart attacks and strokes are merely the symptoms of people who’ve experienced an original thought. Hey, I’ll bet that’s an original thought right there. Ugh. What’s this tingling in my fingers? Oh, pretty rainbow colors. My head hurts.
Oops. Sorry about that. I’m back. Turns out it wasn’t an original thought after all. Just the same old thing that always when I happen to stand up too fast. I’ll try to be more careful so we can get this damn post over and done with.
Continue reading →
Michael Vick still plays in the NFL? Need I say more?
Finally, he is getting the kind of positive recognition and accolades he deserves.
Vick’s teammates on the Philadelphia Eagles recently voted, as a team, to give the beleaguered quarterback the Ed Block “Courage” Award.
By all means, let us celebrate the “courage” of Michael Vick. Is it the “courage” to face that what you did was wrong and that you’ve repented? Not exactly. It’s more like the “courage” to say, “Hey, come on now. It’s in the past. Can’t we move on? Let’s leave the past behind.” Right on, Vick!
If there is one thing the NFL does well it is promoting the type of values we can all appreciate and enjoy.
The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation on its web site says it “is dedicated to improving the lives of…
View original post 80 more words
Did you know that some people think it’s naive to expect a presidential candidate to keep his/her word? I promise you, this is true! I’ve been called it right to my face. By no small coincidence the person doing the speaking was one of the most monumental douchebags I’ve ever met. And no, he wasn’t even my boss. He wasn’t quite that bad.
As we gather our collective will, about to commit ourselves to the task of voting, I’m here to ask: What is a presidential promise? Why are they made? Do they even matter? Should we even care? And what, if anything, should happen when they are broken?
Consider this: If it is naive to expect a presidential candidate to keep his/her promises, then what’s the bloody point of it all? If that’s the case, what selection criteria should go into your vote? Why not just vote for the candidate you “like” the most then, when he/she’s all legit, expect him/her to do whatever the hell he/she wants?
Take Romney, for instance. Part of his platform is officially “get me in there and then I’ll fill you in on the rest of the details later.” Some might call that refreshing. Some might call it straight up. At least he’s not trying to fool the naive folk, right?
On the other hand, he does make his share of promises, too. The biggest one I can think of is: “I’ll create 12 million new jobs.” Now that’s a promise. Never mind that a bunch of economists predict that the U.S. will create those jobs either way, over the next four years, regardless of which of the two choices we select in 2012.
Hey, I’ve got a promise for you, too. The sun will come up tomorrow. I promise. If it actually happens, does that mean I’m brilliant? That I had anything to do with it? And what if it doesn’t? What happens then? Well, we’ll all be dead and there will be no one around to give a shit.
It’s a classic win-win.
Some Eistein smartypants will no doubt say, “Whatever. A president doesn’t have ultimate power. He’s not a dictator. Not unless we’re talking about Obama, of course. A president can’t just do anything he wants. He needs help from Congress and stuff. He can’t go it alone.”
True. And precisely because of that fact, I’ll tell you how, in my opinion, promises should matter.
Continue reading →
See that little doodad widget over there? No, not there. In the column on the side of this blog where stuff is. Yeah, there. The one that says, “Blog with Integrity.”
What does that mean?
Yes, even a Guru of Negativity can still maintain his integrity.
One of the ways I try to blog with integrity is by respecting intellectual property rights. I try to write my own stuff, and when I use a source, like Wikipedia, I give credit where credit is due. I do this with links and sourcing excerpts.
When it comes to images I try to do the same thing. Stealing isn’t nice so I try not to do it.
Here are some fun techniques I use for finding images for use in blog posts and respecting the rights of others.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
When possible, create your own stuff. Get off your ass and take your own photos. Of course that isn’t always workable or possible. So keep reading.
Search government sites
In most cases, images created by the government are open season and free of copyright. Makes sense since we own the government. (At least in theory.)
You can easily use a Google Image Search (GIS) to peruse these images. (This is just one way to do it.)
- Go to http://www.google.com
- Search for something (let’s try “paper airplane”)
- Search results for “Everything” will be displayed by default
- On the left column, click “Images” to narrow your search
- Near the top of the page, under the Search button, click the link that says “Advanced Search”
- Find the box that says “Domain” and enter the following to limit your search to government web site domains: *.gov
- Click the “Google Search” button to search again
- This time the results should only be from images hosted on government domains
I found the image on the left in the search results. I clicked it and was taken to a web site owned by the Federal Aviation Administration. I saved the image to my desktop and then loaded it into my blog.
Viola! It’s that easy.
Note: You should keep in mind that not all images on GOV domains are copyright free. You sometimes have to do a bit of research. Find the “policies” link and see what it says. You can usually get a pretty good idea whether an image is usable or not.
I have seen some city and county government web sites that claim a copyright on their material. I’m not sure what’s up with that. In those rare cases I just shrug and move on.
So don’t forget about the government when you’re looking for a photograph. You might get lucky. NASA is a great source for images. So is the CIA World Factbook and the Library of Congress.
Photographers on the Flickr service have the option of making their pictures available for other uses (or not). One way of letting others share your work is by using a Creative Commons (CC) license. This is a great way to legally find photographs for your blog.
- Go to http://www.flickr.com
- In the search box at the top-right, search for something (lets try “mardis gras”)
- A bunch of pictures will be displayed
- Just like before, find and click the “Advanced Search” link
- Scroll down and find the CC section and check the box that says, “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”
- Click the SEARCH button again
Now you’ll only be seeing images where the license holder allows sharing. Neat, huh? You’ll be amazed at the quality and also the number of pictures available for most searches. There are some great finds here!
Find a picture you like, click to enlarge, then click the SHARE THIS button. Select the “Grab the HTML” option, choose a size, then paste that code into your blog post.
This will automatically create a link back to the original photo on Flickr. Be sure to leave that to say “thank you” to the photographer for sharing.
Here’s one I found for Mardis Gras that tells a nice story.
Sometimes you’ll find an image on Flickr that you want to use but it isn’t flagged as being part of the Creative Commons. Just drop the Flickr member and note and ask permission. I’ve done this many times and it has always worked. Be sure to link the image to the Flickr member’s account and then send them a copy of your post and say thanks.
Open Source Clip Art
If you want clip art rather than a photo, try the Open Clip Art Library for copyright free images. This is where the artwork for Hyppo and Critter came from.
So, that’s just a few ideas. There are many more. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.
There was an interview on the radio tonight. A young singer (in college) had written a fairly haunting song and the interviewer was asking him about one of the lyrics. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the singer or the lyrics. Google search fail.
The line was a self-deprecating one, and the singer spoke pointedly about how we get more jaded and disillusioned as we get older. Or something like that.
It got me to thinking.
Were you a better you when you were younger? Are you on the decline and would that singer’s message resonate with you? Are you on your way down?
Or, are you better now than you were back then? Are you on your way up?
In all honesty, I think I’m currently the best me I’ve ever been. I frequently refer to myself as “State of the art Tom.” In fact, this question, which should be all hard and introspective and stuff, is a bit of a let down. There was a time when I was younger I did things I’m not very proud of. I don’t do a lot those things anymore. Case closed, right?
Oh sure, I still have my moments of weakness. And I beat myself up for them pretty damn well. But somewhere down the line, and I’m still not sure how, I got some stuff right. Not the kind of stuff that will ever line my pockets with silver, mind you, but stuff I can be proud of just the same.
It’s about a four-hour drive to the small town where I grew up. I don’t like to visit there too much. I get all maudlin and feeling funny about the past. I still know a lot of the places and buildings, but seemingly everyone I ever knew is gone. My old high school is now an elementary school. And the grocery store across the street is now a church.
There is a Chinese restaurant on the edge of town that holds an especially vivid memory for me. It’s one of the moments of my life that have been frozen in crystal clear memory. I was just a wee youngster at the time. Our little family unit of four – mother, father, sister and myself – had just had a little dinner. I even remember we had lobster with black bean sauce.
After dinner we walked out to the car. Parked next to us was a pickup truck. My dad peered into the back of that truck and saw a power tool of some sort. I don’t exactly remember what it was. But I remember as clear as day what happened next. My dad reached into that truck and took that tool for himself. Apparently he needed one of those things.
Not the best life lesson to pick up from the old man, I’m afraid. And for a while there, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.
Somehow, though, between then and now, I turned out different and took a different path. I still don’t know why. I like to think of it as a road less traveled. Very less traveled. After successfully climbing my own slippery slope, I paused on higher ground to look down upon a species that I now feel like I view from above, oh so proud of my ethics and morals and honesty and all that. I don’t how the hell I got here. And it sort of scares the shit out of me.
It’s been a few years since I visited my home town. Coincidentally enough, the very last time I passed through was literally the day I attended my father’s funeral. We stayed the night there just because it was my home town. But looking at the phone in our motel room made me sad, because it was my home town and I couldn’t think of a single damn person to call.
Then, on our way out of town, there it was. The Chinese restaurant. Right out of my memory and right where I left it. In my mind I can even imagine I know the precise parking spot I still see with such clarity in my mind. Somehow I find it fitting that the place is now dingy and ramshackle. I don’t bother to slow down as we passed, but I did take a moment to feel grateful for how I turned out.
So, my question to you is simply this: Are you on your way up or your way down?