Wednesday, June 30, 2004

How to anger your boss? Ask for a raise of course...

Monday I asked my employer for a raise. Her response was that I would get no raise for 30 days and they would hire another programmer (with the unspoken intent to fire me if they ever find a comfort level with the remaining programming staff.)

I've been programming since 1975, although my career didn't begin until about 1981. In 1983 I was making $1000 per week and my employers (5 partners) loved me. In todays dollars that would be something like $200k per year. What I really miss though is that when I spoke on a subject back then, I was listened to and respected. Yes, I really miss that. Now that I actually know something, I'm ignored.

I began with my current employer in the summer of 1998 after a few years of some very big traumas in my life... I'd lost my job, found out my next job offer (involving a move to NV) was given to someone else just before I was about to relocate. I lived on unemployment for 14 months (Bush Sr. had signed a bill that extended benefits at the time) and was homeless (living in my Dodge) a few months into my unemployment (because my landlord said she loved me and couldn't bare to see me die... well, that's what she said. I'm a fat guy, this in itself results in almost daily abuse from all kinds of people.) I moved from WA to AZ to live with my mother (with me in my late 30s!!!) who was about to separate from her husband. After an attempted murder (my mom was technically dead at one point, after being stabbed 29 times according to the doctor) I had to operate my mom's business with my crack cocaine addicted and alcoholic younger brother as a partner... no he wasn't the attempted murderer, it was my -truly- evil sister that had attempted, and almost succeeded, with the murder. She had intended to pin it on me, based on statements she made to the police, but was caught in her lies (two witnesses fouled her up.) I knew she was evil and tried to warn my mother (she had told me years earlier that she intended to kill our mother, and my mother told me of two prior attempts after I moved to live with her.) I had succeed in selling my mothers business to a new owner that accepted the business liabilities (I'd put the business in the black, but was in a bind when my brother sold two expensive engines belonging to customers that I didn't have the funds to replace. He had a great weekend party with his friends and I was looking at potential lawsuits.) I had to be nursemaid for my mother (it took over two years for her to partially recover) and helped her reconcile with her husband (who was a momma's boy, letting his family interfere with his married life.) Before the attack she wouldn't accept that my sister was evil (and I wish to god, my sister hadn't been able to outmanuever me to make the attack. She talked my mother into getting me out of the way long enough and I wasn't aware that my sister was behind it.) After the attack, she considered all of her children to be evil, including me. After some time, my cousin offered me a fake job in CO. After I moved there I barely was able to get the funds to move to live with my youngest sister in CA (she's married to a wonderful man who is like an older brother to me.) After all this, my programming skills were not quite up-to-date. Then I found my current employer.

Considering that I had no experience with VB (although I'd programmed many dialects of basic since CP/M, well actually my first experience was the timeshared basic of the HP2000F, I've used both interpreters and compilers on a variety of systems)... I asked for $32k (thinking I was generously making a rock bottom offer.) They offered me $24k along with some strange conditions. I was given a two week trial followed by six month probation. Although I felt like a fool (the VB5 IDE was completely new to me) I was up to speed in about a month and have continually improved my abilities since then. They then extended my probation another six months (for no reason but there own paranoia... they were still in court with a former employee) but did finally give me half... to $28k. I've been able to get about $4k more each year, without any major hassles, until finally I was making $40k from about three years ago. I quit working for them about two years ago, then made $70k for a year (salary and bonuses, along with good benefits) before my 20ish millionaire boss impulsively fired me. We're still good friends and he admitted that he made some mistakes (pressure to get a product out that he'd already anounced to distributors) and acted rashly (well yeah, he just fired me because a tech locked me out of my own computer and I decided I needed a day or two off for stress relief I didn't keep it a secret.) I was working for my current employer 3 days later at my old salary of $40k (and no benefits.) This required me to leave my wife and son behind in the apartment I pay for in CA (today is my last day in this apartment btw.) Because of bad credit (I've been hospitalized and have unpaid debt) I wasn't able to find an apartment, so I live in my office and used the YMCA until I found a friend to live with (he lives in another part of the state making for a 2 hr. (each way) commute.

It's fair to say I've lived with my allotment of stress.

When I started with my current employer back in 1998 they had 4 smart young programmers and 2 inexperienced report writers. They had lots of cash from a business partnership with Shell Fleet Services and were beginning development of a windows version of a DOS program. They later sued (a common element you will soon see) and won a breach of contract with Shell. They first lost both of their report coders (one went back to school, the other went back to his bottle.) Then just before they moved the company from CA to WA they lost the most productive two of the four programmers to better paying jobs. The third programmer was not willing to move, but remained with the company. He only worked on hand held development in C however, so didn't really effect the main windows product. So they had only me and another programmer (who didn't do much of any coding in the product, he was an artist and web surfer with a broad knowledge of a number of languages but was not a coding grunt like myself.) Just before moving the company, the owners (husband and wife) had the two of us into there office to thank us for being the only ones moving with the company. They also said, that a few months after we get to WA and everything settles down, we would each get a $25k raise. This would have brought my salary at that time to $61k, which would have been in the normal range for a VB programmer. I could have hoped for better, but would have been very satisfied with that as it was a significant raise. Two months after working in WA I inquired about the raise, and they told me, "the deal they were working on didn't go through, so there would be no raises." With 20-20 hindsight, I should have asked for $50k immediately and told them they didn't have to be so 'generous.' I also missed a second chance for $50k when they offered it to me not to leave for work with my friend. Since I'm asking for less than that now, I don't see how it could be considered unreasonable. They also hired a programmer in WA that became my boss after about a year (and the other programmer that went with me left the company.) I know his salary history, but it wouldn't be appropriate to reveal it. That's his private business.

I've arranged to move back with my wife and work remotely. This didn't go over well with my employers, but I've managed to make it work. So here's how this last bid for a raise has gone so far...

Although I asked for the raise Monday, I prepared the ground the week before. They aren't paying my CA tax which they are required to do. They floated the idea of me becoming an independant contractor, which I didn't like at first, but the idea grew on me. So I sent them a one year contract, which would have started tomorrow, July 1st, with a payment rate of $4k per month ($48k per yr.) So that was the first time I introduced the idea of working for a different rate. Even though an independant has to pay there own taxes (which would get them off the hook) at least the number was out there. Then friday the husband says he thinks we should just leave things as they are for now. I said, fine with me, but I'd like to discuss a pay raise. He told me to discuss it with his wife, which is what I did on monday.

You can't imagine how much smoke got blown in my face when I brought the issue up on monday!!!

It got fast a furious (yes, I was a back-stabbing, no good, ingrait for wanting a raise) and she was definitely angry. One of the things I pointed out is that my salary doesn't even show up on the radar because it's so low. People with no experience fresh out of college are making more than me. Not to mention everyone that leaves this company (and they all could depend on my help when they needed it) makes more than I do in starting pay at there new positions.

She was saying, there are no jobs... the people making $70k are sleeping under there desks. Then the attacks got personal. If I were so good, why couldn't I find another job (in other words, why would I ever go back to working for them a second time. Interesting question.) The truth is, anybody familier with my work will hire me, but for strangers a fat guy with bad health just isn't worth considering even if I do the work of three normal programmers (that's documented) and my code is maintainable being easier than most to understand (if I end the day with less code than I started, I consider it a good day... especially if the code is clear and does more.)

Perhaps she was having a bad day, because later that same day she had to appear before a judge regarding a former employees unemployment which they fought against.

This just in... new programmer has been hired... is he the highly paid replacement for the soon to be fired? Apparently not, as I was informed that low man on the pole has moved up and new guy is replacing him. This does of course mean that they can now claim not to have money for any raises... stay tuned...

Monday, June 28, 2004

I've always wished SDB would take up part 2 of his space elevator article. Maybe this will get him to start thinking about it again?

Saturday, June 26, 2004

As I was reading this I had a thought...

What if the new democratic country of Iraq decides to invade the countries that are sending foreign fighters into their country? If they asked for our aid, would we go?

Update: Rand has some thoughts.

Moving Day!
My wife and son had to go to work by 3pm. Two of my son's older teenage friends helped me to fill the truck that's now sitting outside our soon to be former apartment. It would be nice if we were buying a house, but for now it will only be renting. This is the problem with being the lowest paid programmer I know (other than one guy working for the same company as I.)

We are moving to Sacramento. The hardest part was getting the piano out to the truck. Our apartment is on the second floor. It took six big men to get it up the stairs and into the apartment. I called everybody I knew today but could not find anyone around to help move the piano. So I sat and thought about if for awhile and decided that my son and his two friends could help me get it down the stairs. I'm a fat guy with a bad leg so I thought long and hard before deciding to make this attempt. I made sure the kids understood that we were going to do this one step at a time (literally) and that before we moved it any additional inch we would have situational awareness of the dangers we would have to handle as a team. I'm very proud of them, we got the damn thing down the stairs. We might have had a catastrophe when the bottom stair partially broke through on us (concrete with rebar) but no injuries occured (which was my main concern.) Losing the piano or other damage didn't bother me as much as someone getting a broken bone would have. The truck had a lift and the piano went right up and into the truck easily enough (some tipping danger, but nothing extreme.)

Just got off the phone with my wife. She is mad at me as I expected because I let the kids go after they'd done all the heavy lifting (and then some) she wanted me to keep them around until every last thing was done. I fed the kids and gave them some money, but couldn't make myself a slave driver. It's just not in me, after all the good work they did do and I appreciated it. My wife has a point in that nobody is working harder than she and my son are, but it's moving day (I've got four days, but took care of the heavy lifting today... tomorrow we will unload into the garage of the new house) so what can be expected?

I could expect that she would love me, but that is, in her own words, "Too much!"

The piano is a 1910 upright with very good sound (my wife plays beautifully) but will have to be tuned again I am sure. Hard wood and brass make for a heavy instrument as well as a good sound.

THE IRAQ WE DON'T HEAR ABOUT Let us spread the word.
From Transterrestrial Musings

Friday, June 25, 2004

Is it NATURE OR NURTURE he asks? ...about political leanings left or right.

I always thought it was funny that when I was a kid working in NYC my friends thought of me as a conservative, but when I lived in AZ all my friends thought of me as a liberal. Does that put me in the center? I don't think so. I'd like to think I personally reason my positions and pay attention to all the information available to me that might have an impact on an issue. I also think that it's more important to hear the biased opionions (right and left) than the 'unbiased ones'... perhaps because I believe that most so-called unbiased opinions are dishonest rather than being unbiased. I can disagree with someone honest while still respecting them, but I lose all respect for those that try verbal sleight of hand to persuade me. It's probably why I consider some political humorists and some filmmakers to be so despicable.

A person earns a good name and then his argument may be credible. Once someone loses their good name with me, and it takes more usually than a single incident, I don't even hear them anymore. They just become invisible to me. I usually don't have much to say about them either. When a so-called civil rights leader calls NYC Hymie-Town or something like that, it's distasteful, but if that was the worst they ever did I might consider listening to other things (but would keep the incident in the back of my thoughts coloring anything else they said.) If they continue, then they fade from my radar, never to be seen again.

Part of nature vs. nurture may be related to personality types which do seem to be hardwired into us. Personality type are not exclusive in the way they work... all thinking people have feelings and all sensing people make judgments and so on. "If you are under 30 and not a liberal you have no heart, if over 30 and not a conservative you have no brain" I've heard attibuted to W. Churchill. The point this makes with me is that we all have all these capacities to either a stronger or limited degree. I personally share traits not only with every single good or evil person on this planet, but with God himself.

This begs the question of God being evil, but that's like asking is anger evil. I don't think anger is, but what you do with the anger may be. I think people that believe that anger (or pick some other emotion) is evil haven't paid attention to the reality that anger can be very useful and helpful emotion to remove the lethargy that might otherwise overcome someone from some bad situation. To be righteously indignant (when tempered) can be a very useful thing indeed. Like not buying French Wine? Sure. Renaming French Fries? That seems kind of stupid to me, but I respect the motivation.

I'm guilty of jumping the gun and speaking out about things I may not have fully cooked as ideas, so I'm pretty forgiving of that in others. What I find disgusting are those whose idea of an argument is simply to move the goalposts or change the direction of an argument rather than acknowledge a point well given. It doesn't show much respect for the person you are trying to persuade and I really don't care to work through an argument that proceeds like that. On the other hand, when I ponder someone's point, it doesn't mean the argument is over and they won... I would hope that anyone I listened to would present a good argument and it would be expected that some things they bring forth might me cause me pause... which as I said, is a respectful way to consider someone's argument.

But then they really blow that respect they've just earned by thinking they've won. To me, winning is when both sides come to a better understanding.

Will Debra Burlingame's voice of reason be heard?

Now here are some good points worth repeating every morning.

He could have been a contenda. Oh, he was? Dodge that one, didn't we?..
From Day by Day.

Iran Wants to Be IN I say they first need to join that other club... civilization.

They say orbital is not too far in the future...
From cerdipity.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

This kids mature handling of a provocative situation is impressive.

SSI Good news/Bad news
They will not be totally insolvent by the time I retire. They will be insolvent by the time I am dead.

Home Ownership
When I was a kid the rule of thumb was that the place you lived should cost less than 25% of your income. It doesn't seem to be true anymore?

This is what makes America great ...it's the people stupid.

But did they bury them in pig skins?

This guy obviously doesn't understand the value of a good list.

Danger Will Robinson

Look out steroids...a new kid on the block.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Clueless is experiencing the political game that occurs before every election, but now they seem to have discovered blogs. Back in the early 1980's I worked for a circulations fulfillment company, CoMarco, that took up one floor of a midtown NYC building (I believe it was the 8th floor if I remember correctly, on 24th street?) We used Univac equipment that used OS/3 and JCL that was absolutely identical to the IBM flavor, but it was impossible to get a job on any IBM systems because the personel people at the time couldn't fathom the concept that they were the same.

In any case, different groups of people were always commissioning our company to do marketing research and political research was pretty common before any elections. Usually, they'd be looking to do mailing to people that had some ethnically related names or lived in a particular zip code. In the end, it's all about raising money. You can expect that once you answer any question, someone will follow with their hands out.

List of names themselves are valuable and once some demographically defined groups are produced, these often become a source of income to the list producers.

Update: Steven says I'm off-base because the letters seem to come from individuals at universities. In that case I guess it's more sociological than political. All of which is still interesting.

Understanding politics in Russia might require a reading of this?
KGB's Terror Bombings in Moscow, Volgodonsk, Ryazan 1999

You might want to start under the heading...
"The Shadow of Ryazan: Is Putin's government legitimate?"

I blame Putin. His generals got themselves waxed in Iraq (they expected their plan for the defense of Baghdad to hold up better.) He's been assassinating or imprisoning his opponents and getting a tighter grip on the country. I wonder if he and the Chinese are building relations and for what purpose?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

What is the movie meme?

Don't know, but the ones in bold I've seen...

1. Titanic (1997) $600,779,824 - with my sister and her husband.
2. Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665 - several times at the best theatre in Phoenix.
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459
4. Star Wars: Episode I
5. Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003) $377,019,252
7. Passion of the Christ, The (2004) $370,025,697
8. Jurassic Park (1993) $356,784,000
9. Shrek 2 (2004) $356,211,000
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) $340,478,898
11. Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367
12. Forrest Gump (1994) $329,691,196 - the book stunk.
13. Lion King, The (1994) $328,423,001
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $317,557,891
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) $313,837,577
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) $310,675,583
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) $309,125,409
18. Independence Day (1996) $306,124,059
19. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) $305,411,224 - I forgive him any misquote in any german magazine for this movie.
20. Sixth Sense, The (1999) $293,501,675 - I'll watch anything with Bruce in it.
21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) $290,158,751
22. Home Alone (1990) $285,761,243
23. Matrix Reloaded, The (2003) $281,492,479
24. Shrek (2001) $267,652,016
25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $261,970,615
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) $260,031,035
27. Jaws (1975) $260,000,000
28. Monsters, Inc. (2001) $255,870,172
29. Batman (1989) $251,188,924
30. Men in Black (1997) $250,147,615
31. Toy Story 2 (1999) $245,823,397
32. Bruce Almighty (2003) $242,589,580
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) $242,374,454
34. Twister (1996) $241,700,000
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) $241,437,427
36. Ghost Busters (1984) $238,600,000
37. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) $234,760,500
38. Cast Away (2000) $233,630,478
39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997) $229,074,524
40. Signs (2002) $227,965,690
41. Rush Hour 2 (2001) $226,138,454
42. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) $219,200,000
43. Ghost (1990) $217,631,306
44. Aladdin (1992) $217,350,219
45. Saving Private Ryan (1998) $216,119,491
46. Mission: Impossible II (2000) $215,397,307
47. X2 (2003) $214,948,780
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) $213,079,163
49. Back to the Future (1985) $210,609,762
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) $205,399,422
51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) $204,843,350
52. Exorcist, The (1973) $204,565,000
53. Mummy Returns, The (2001) $202,007,640
54. Armageddon (1998) $201,573,391
55. Gone with the Wind (1939) $198,655,278
56. Pearl Harbor (2001) $198,539,855 - after Tora! Tora! Tora! why bother?
57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) $197,171,806
58. Toy Story (1995) $191,800,000
59. Men in Black II (2002) $190,418,803
60. Gladiator (2000) $187,670,866
61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) $184,925,485
62. Dances with Wolves (1990) $184,208,848
63. Batman Forever (1995) $184,031,112
64. Fugitive, The (1993) $183,875,760
65. Ocean's Eleven (2001) $183,405,771
66. What Women Want (2000) $182,805,123
67. Perfect Storm, The (2000) $182,618,434
68. Liar Liar (1997) $181,395,380
69. Grease (1978) $181,360,000
70. Jurassic Park III (2001) $181,166,115
71. Mission: Impossible (1996) $180,965,237
72. Planet of the Apes (2001) $180,011,740
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) $179,870,271
74. Pretty Woman (1990) $178,406,268
75. Tootsie (1982) $177,200,000
76. Top Gun (1986) $176,781,728
77. There's Something About Mary (1998) $176,483,808
78. Ice Age (2002) $176,387,405
79. Crocodile Dundee (1986) $174,635,000
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) $173,585,516
81. Elf (2003) $173,381,405
82. Air Force One (1997) $172,888,056
83. Rain Man (1988) $172,825,435
84. Apollo 13 (1995) $172,071,312
85. Matrix, The (1999) $171,383,253
86. Beauty and the Beast (1991) $171,301,428
87. Tarzan (1999) $171,085,177
88. Beautiful Mind, A (2001) $170,708,996
89. Chicago (2002) $170,684,505
90. Three Men and a Baby (1987) $167,780,960
91. Meet the Parents (2000) $166,225,040
92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)$165,500,000
93. Hannibal (2001) $165,091,464
94. Catch Me If You Can (2002) $164,435,221 - but I really want to see this one.
95. Big Daddy (1999) $163,479,795
96. Sound of Music, The (1965) $163,214,286
97. Batman Returns (1992) $162,831,698
98. Bug's Life, A (1998) $162,792,677
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) $161,963,000
100. Waterboy, The (1998) $161,487,252

...and the winner is... Forrest Gump. Thankfully they decided not to send him into space with a gorilla. Update: just saw 'Catch Me If You Can' on DVD. Liked it.

How far behind is the da Vinci Project?

ISS and the Shuttles
From time to time I hear it said that the shuttles should be permanently grounded. I've also heard that the reason we don't fully utilize the ISS is because we have no way to get a larger group to ground in case of trouble. Isn't the solution obvious?

Leave the shuttles in space!

Why rotate everyone at a time? The more people in ISS at a time, I'd imagine the more they could get done. If not, why waste any more time on the thing?

Good coverage of Space Ship One.

We need to wipe the smiles off their faces.

"Shortly after the conclusion of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Mullahs were practically trembling on their thrones. But now they smile; the BBC has done its work well."

If the politicals of the world would show some spine they wouldn't have to worry about being reelected... they would all win in landslide votes. It's time they made plain and simple cases... against the media that is distorting the story and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

We'll keep an eye on the politicians, they'd better keep an eye on the ball.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

I support No Journalist Left Behind

Seriously funny!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Russ puts forth the surprising conclusion that the rise in wages suggests under population. So what are the implications?

Inside out thinking... or perhaps we should take the evidence that mountains do push up to realize a worldwide flood makes much more sense. When people ask where did all the water go, we just need to point to the oceans.

Note the points that are acknowledged:
1) The mountains were covered with water at some point depositing the fossils.
2) Flood legends are worldwide, not regional.

Let's assume the premise IS correct. If the ancients did infer a flood from the fossil evidence, why infer it was world wide? Why do all the legends infer it was world wide? Hmmm?

From... Asymmetrical Information: Master of the Obvious

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I will be stunned if it isn't a landslide, but not in this direction.

Trying to compare Bush to Carter is the most unbelievable crap I've ever heard. I can sum up Carter with the line by Johnnie Carson after Reagan was elected and got some legislation passed with some personal lobbying... Johnnie quipped that Carter asked, "You can do that?"

Update: Actually, my opinion of Carter is much worse than that. It's not enough to say that Carter was ineffective... in actuality, he was very effective... at selling this country down the river. In an alternate universe, he'd be lined up against a wall and shot for treason.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Having driven in Brooklyn myself (20+ yrs. ago) I sometimes wonder why they don't make some roads motorcycles only... but of course that would be like saying that sidewalks should be pedestrian only... silly me, how would people get around the delivery trucks?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

This is more than a book review...
Reagan's Greatness

In it Bill Kristol says... In his concluding chapter, D'Souza joins many others in warning against yearning for "another Ronald Reagan." But why shouldn't we? As D'Souza emphasizes, Reagan was in many ways an ordinary man who became an extraordinary leader. Precisely because Reagan does not reach the heights of a Lincoln or a Churchill, he is accessible as a model to be followed by other ordinary political men. Surely we are entitled to hope for another Reagan.

Yes, we are.

I see a common theme...
Ann Coulter has taken up the issue of revisionist history that SDB and Kim du Toit spoke of.

Are we seeing a realization that the war is actually between liars and lovers of truth? Terrorism cockroaches rely on the stealthy darkness of lies and borders porous for both infiltration and the spread of false reality.

Ann tells of Reagan... After watching Walter Cronkite's coverage of the Vietnam War in December 1972, Reagan told President Richard Nixon, "under World War II circumstances, the network (CBS) would have been charged with treason."

What about the papers in major cities today? Are they guilty of treason? Is that why they don't want it to be a capital crime? I admit I got carried along with the hype about Abu Ghraib Prison and the moron's that gave the enemy such a propaganda victory... but after reflecting on it (and the moral equivalence BS. Do you note that it's not even equivalent anymore... panties on a guys head is WORSE than feeding people live into a shredder???) I see it as the most seditious, treasonable acts just short of taking up combat arms against the government.

Somethings got to give.

What's in a name?
It may seem strange for a boy to have had five last names, but here's my story...

I was born Kenneth John Anthony Mortenson Jr. in Brooklyn NY, but I didn't find out about my last name until I was 16 years old. Until then my father was a stranger, first known to me at age 14 when my mother told me about my 'uncle Ken' (when he paid for my trip to the 1973 boy scout jamboree in Coeur d'Alene Idaho.) Although my mother loves me in her way she has always had a problem with truth. I was told I was named Ken after him, but nothing else.

I was raised the oldest of 6 children although technically I'm an only child since my mother and father only had me. My father went on to marry Miss San Salvadore and I have two half-brothers Eddie and Paul. I met my father at my grandmothers house in Brooklyn when I was 16. He offered to pay for my college. What I wanted was to know my father, college was a separate issue to be dealt with later. What I didn't know was my mother made a deal with my father to pay for my college instead of child support. Later when I was twenty my father told me that he wasn't my father, except genetically. I have to agree with the jerk, but it's not something you tell a young man in the way he did. I don't think he's a bad man and has lived with his own pains I'm sure, but he never did become my father... his loss.

My step-father, Joseph Benjamin (he died a few years back) was my dad AFAIK until I became 16, then when I was going to visit my relative in NY (I was living with my disintegrating family in Phoenix AZ at the time) my mother finally told me who my father was. It was traumatic for both my mom and my (step)dad in different ways, but for me the truth was very enlightening... it explained a lot.

I went to California to live with my dad and second oldest sister. They both had terrible tempers and when I put myself between them I was thrown out... at 16, with an old Dodge Dart and $50 I was out on my own.

Anyway, what about my other last names? When I was five, my last name was Carlino... I don't remember my name before that, but it was DeCarlo from documents I've seen. It seems my step-father was running away from an ex-wife (and his child support.) My stepfather was gifted when it came to creating birth certificates for the family. I first found out my mother was a liar when she told me my last name was being changed from Carlino to Benjamin because it was easier to spell (we were heading to Washington state to avoid the chase.) Even at five, I understood that to be a lie, but I never questioned my mother about it... I figured she had her reasons.

I was a strange kid... my grandmother had 13 kids (1 or 2 stillborn) and I have an uncle Teddy that is 13 days older than me and an aunt Debbie that is two years younger. Apparently by all accounts (confirmed by other liars in my family) I never cried as a child. I also have an IQ of 160, so when my mother told me about easier spelling of my name, she misjudged my ability to understand (or couldn't come up with a better lie?)

My stepdads father was very rich. I never knew him, but I did meet my great aunt and it's a disappointment to this day that I never met him. He never forgave my step-dad for leaving his first wife and children and I suspect he is the reason the FBI were once close on my stepdads trail, in an obscure little town that we left soon after.

So there ya go... DeCarlo, Carlino, Benjamin, Mortenson, and oh... the rest of the story?

In honor of my father disowning me at twenty, when I turned forty I dropped my last name and just considered myself Kenneth John Anthony. It hasn't been changed legally (derailed when a girlfriend fixed her car with my money instead of taking the papers I'd filled out to court.) I didn't bother after that.

Other interesting name facts... my uncle RP had his name legally changed to that since he was named after an older stillborn brother Ronald. He got $5 million in a court settlement after losing a leg but is pennyless today. I couldn't help but tell him how stupid he was for not living on 10% interest ($500,000.00 per year) for the rest of his life. I only did it once, and it just came out. I really didn't want to hurt his feelings... but man, is he a jackass!

Worse to me is his daughter's attitude that it was great while it lasted... while it lasted? It should never have not lasted??? Whatever!

My cousin Raymond (double cousin actually, his mother is my mothers sister and his father is my fathers brother) tells me that not only is Marilyn Monroe a relative, but we have a cousin (that I've never seen) that is the spitting image. Of course, in the field of liars, Raymond holds special honors.


Me, I don't lie, but the truth is too bizarre to believe.

Sometimes it's just bull shit.

I have to respectfully disagree with W. Thomas Smith Jr. on Iraq on National Review Online when he says, "Unfortunately, stories about hospitals being renovated, little girls learning the basics of math and science for the first time, or five brave Iraqi men being decorated for saving the life of a wounded American, are not nearly as dramatic as a roadside bombing or an assassination."

The story about the five trained Iraqi soldiers that received medals in part for saving a U. S. Marine was in fact a dramatic story and there is absolutely no reason that the press should not have picked up on the story and trumpeted it at least half as much as the prison scandal. Or is it that having panties on your head is more dramatic than a firefight involving dozens of men?

Monday, June 14, 2004

You have to do it every once in a while... Paraducks on Google takes you here. Does it mean anything? Not really, but I'll take my little thrills as they come... who's going to type Paraducks into Google anyway? They'd have to have the same warped mind as mine to make paradox into that, right? ...or perhaps some white ducks for pets as I did many years ago.

Kim du Toit makes a powerful point.

Deep Thoughts...USS Clueless - Discovered ethical traps

There is another alternative to 'the soul doesn't exist' which is understandibly not mentioned since it isn't taught by most christian beliefs. It's the question of 'HAS A' verses 'IS A' (not to be confused with the object oriented programming notions) relationship. The bible says that both animal and mankind are souls, which is why their souls can be cut with the sword. So the short answer is that transfering minds does not transfer souls... the answer to the riddle (as counter intuative as it seems to be) is that we are not the same person we were a moment before and the amount of change various over time (some changes are profound whereas others are minor.) Perhaps that's what is meant by becoming a new person? Which would also go a long way in showing why repentance (which literally is a change of direction) might change the result of your life? Is life (a living soul as opposed to a dead soul, another example where many christian beliefs vary with the bible) a vector quantity then?

The other issue is slavery. Personally, I think tyranny is the thing that is immoral and slavery is only immoral to the extent that tyranny is involved. Ever heard of a wage slave? We are all slaves to something (actually many things.) Historically, slavery, while obviously including the whip driven hard laborers, also included the honored and loyal servant that was protected by the master. Being whipped is one of the many facets of tyranny (which seems to have no end of facets) but I don't think being a bond servant by itself is immoral (especially, since the bond can be paid to relieve the debt of service.) Often it was a relationship of mutual love where a steward took care of much of the masters business with quite a bit of discretionary action. OTOH, selling yourself into slavery may not involve tyranny, but selling a family member could hardly not be.

Then there is the question of being born into slavery. I believe all people should be born free, but the reality is that none of us are (try to travel the world without subjecting yourself to governmental authority.) But again, a person born into slavery would have the protection of the household. Is it better that today the government serves as master to those on welfare? What if we made the distinction between tyranny and slavery and prosecuted those doing the former and regulated by law the latter? Historically, slavery has been ethnic and racist, but that has never been the essential quality of it. Slavery in raw terms is simply having your will be subservient to another; which usual means to someone undeserving, but the fine point I'm trying to make with a very sensitive issue is that it doesn't always have to be. The supreme example being to submit to a God that is deserving of our loyalty and protective of us.

Steven takes on revisionist history.
I'm 45, so I remember these events pretty much as SDB does. It's alarming that the NYT has so little journalistic integrity as to allow such a thing unchallenged, but more so that a professor of [freakin'] history!!! would attempt such a thing??? His analysis includes the humorous thought of Reagan and Bush having the need to be in touch with there 'inner Carter' and 'inner Clinton' respectively... So funny!

These revisionists have such a profound misunderstanding of the conflict and survival issues at stake... not to mention a serious gaping hole in their ability to see reality. How can we allow this to continue? These people are educating the next generation? It's almost as bad a the 'schools' teaching kids to become suicide bombers.

update: Kim du Toit echo's my thoughts. What to do about it?

Friday, June 11, 2004

I only got 154 but he got 160

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Abolish the FCC
I second this motion.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

This should answer the question of whether or not Reagan really should have credit for taking down the Soviet Union.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

A tribute to Ronald Reagan

Here's where to find the D-Day stories.

Friday, June 04, 2004

So which one would you vote against?
Many voters are still deciding whether Kerry or Bush would be worse as president.

Now that the CIA house is being cleaned... will the state department be next?

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Sometimes only a graphic will do (mouse over the photo.)

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