Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Letter to Congressman Heath Shuler (NC-11) on Network Neutrality

Congressman Shuler,

I am writing to encourage you to reconsider your stance on network neutrality. I read the letter sent by 72 members of congress to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski opposing net neutrality and I was disappointed you were one of the signers. Net neutrality has been the de facto way of the Internet since it's inception and allows everyone equal access. It allows small and innovative startups to be on the same playing field as massive corporations like Yahoo and Google (which were both once small and innovative startups). Allowing network providers to restrict traffic of their choosing would stifle the innovation that has lead to the Internet we have today. It would also allow network providers to favor their own services over competing services, limiting competition. I hope you will reconsider your position and Chairman Genachowski will make the right choice and not make policy based on your letter. Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

To Senator Kay Hagan: Public Option in Health Care Reform

I've read a few articles (here and here) about Senator Kay Hagan's opposition to a public option in the latest health care debate and I felt compelled to write her:
Senator Hagan,

I have read several articles recently discussing your opposing a public option as part of the push to reform our health care system. I am writing in hopes that your will reconsider and support a public option.

My biggest concern is that everyone in our country has access to health care and personally I would like to see a single payer health care system. I do see the reality of the entrenched insurance companies in our health care system though and know that option is almost impossible politically.

I think that having a public plan may be the next best thing to single payer. Insurance companies are not in the business of making sure their customers stay healthy. They are in the business of making money. To do this they drop sick people or charge them outrageous premiums if they cover them at all. They also routinely deny coverage. How a "bureaucrat in Washington" is worse than a bureaucrat at a health insurance company, I don't know. Health insurers need the competition.

I feel that health care should be a right, not a privilege limited to people who can afford it or are lucky enough to have a job that provides it for them. That should be the overall goal of any health care reform.

Thank you for listening.

Forrest Samuels

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why don't we just tell the other 14% to Sit Down and SHUT UP!!!

I got an email forward this weekend that got under my skin a little and not just because of the mere fact that it was a forward. It detailed some of the instances where Christianity has come into play in the history of our government and the amazement that "How, then, have we gotten to the point that everything we have done for 220 years in this country is now suddenly wrong and unconstitutional?". It closes with:
It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore, it is very hard to understand why there is such a mess about having the Ten Commandments on display or "In God We Trust" on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don't we just tell the other 14% to Sit Down and SHUT UP!!!
I found the full email online here, though the version I received had a few less "Did you know?'s".

And here was my response...

It is true that our country is based on Judeo-Christian values but more importantly our country is also intentionally secular. The first amendment of the constitution clearly spells out that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". There is a very fuzzy line though in determining what is religious and what is favoring one religion over another. I think it is more important for everyone in this country to be able to practice the religion of their choosing (or no religion) though than it is for the majority to have their religious symbols supported by the government.

The thing that really bothers me about this email though is the idea that because a majority thinks something should be one way that makes it the right way, and that the minority should "sit down and shut up!!!". When the majority rules they can easily ignore the rights of the minority. Imagine if instead of being the majority, Christians were the minority. Would you feel the same way then? Or try being a Christian in an Islamic republic like Iran. Many of the first settlers came to what would become the United States fleeing religious persecution in Europe. Groups like the Puritans and Quakers. It is the separation of church and state that allows Christians to worship as they want.

The United States is the most diverse country in the world and that is one of the many things that makes us so great. Our diversity forces us to be more understanding and accepting of other views. Compromise and understanding are necessary parts of the process.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Elect Barack Obama Mosaics

I love mosaics. Last night I was inspired to make a few of President Elect Barack Obama (and a few with Obama and Senator McCain). I made these using AndreaMosaic with the tile images as Economist covers between 10/12/2002 - 11/1/2008 (the only dates there are large versions available). Click on the images to get larger versions of the images or even full size if you'd like (I didn't link directly to the full size image as they are all 6-11mb).

Obama in Iowa Mosaic
If you look at the full size image you can make out the covers. All that red is thanks to the big red box that is the Economist logo.

Obama American Flag Mosaic

Obama New Energy for America Mosaic

Obama at the US Capitol Mosaic

McCain, Warren and Obama at the Saddleback Civil Forum Mosaic

McCain and Obama Mosaic

Sen. Barack Obama in Albuquerque, N.M. Mosaic

Obama Change Podium Mosaic

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations President Elect Obama!

I'm calling it. Congratulations President Elect Obama! Now don't blow it! Live up to your campaign promises that will hopefully mend the reputation of our country and help bring us together. Pick a competent Cabinet from people across the political spectrum. Run the country from the center and be a President we can all be proud of.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Landmines in my back yard in Fayetteville!?!

A few days ago when my wife came home she noticed a news crew and a few police cars near the entrance of the construction area behind our apartment building. We had no idea what was going on but since then there has been a security guard there 24/7. Today while walking the dog I asked the guard what happened. I initially thought it might be human remains but I was fortunately (maybe) wrong. There were landmines and other ordinances found back there!!
Construction workers unearthed two live anti-tank mines Thursday afternoon at the Carrington Place Apartments.

Agent Joe Lenczyk, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the mines could have been buried on the site for 50 years and probably dated from World War II era.

In addition to the two live mines, about 10 training rounds were also found. The mines lacked fuses, so they posed no immediate danger of detonation, Lenczyk said.

No evacuations were necessary.

"If they had exploded, it would have been devastating damage," Lenczyk said, noting that a spark, fire or jostling by construction equipment could have set them off.

An explosives unit from Fort Bragg responded to the scene at 4230 Falmont Place. The Explosives Ordnance Disposal team will excavate the mines and take them back to the post to be destroyed.

Lenczyk declined to speculate about whether or when construction would resume. He said the decision is up to the apartment owners, who must consider whether to undertake the costly prospect of looking for other ordnance in the area.

Since I work from home I have been VERY annoyed at all the loud construction just outside of my window every day due to this construction so I am a little glad they had to stop. I'm certainly not so happy about why. Interestingly enough I also walked through those woods a few months ago (when they still were woods) looking for a Geocache. I think I am a little pissed at the apartment complex for not telling us about this yet!

I've taken a bunch of videos of all the construction as it has been taking place and put them on YouTube.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Don't blame me, I voted (early) for Kodos

I'm back from early voting and I feel great! So far I've read that 2,078,050 other North Carolinians have already voted too. That is 58.5% of the 2004 total. I can't wait to see the total voter turn out nationwide.

My wife and I got to the polling place at noon and were done at 1. We voted at the Cliffdale Recreation Center. The wait was worth it though. While waiting in line I got to meet Lou Olivera, a local candidate for district court judge. Only a handful of people were handing out campaign materials though. There was also a lady there getting people to sign a petition to the next governor requesting more effort to expand green energy in the state and stop building new coal power plants. I wish I remembered what group it was for. I even asked explicitly. Grr. There were people from the Honey Baked Ham store selling ham and turkey sandwiches for $5 too. Clever.

This was the first time I have voted on electronic equipment and I have to say I didn't much care for it. The machine was an ES&S iVotronic machine. I've always voted with the bubble sheet optical scan ballots in the past and I think I can vote that way faster. I don't know all the advantages of these electronic voting machines but they did all have a scrolling paper trail so as I was voting I could see it print out the candidate I voted for. That was a little reassuring. At the end it printed several 3D bar codes. There was also a little sticker that said it was purchased with funds from HAVA (Help America Vote Act). The election official who got me setup to vote didn't give me any instructions on how to use the machine because she figured I knew what I was doing thanks to my age. I thought that was funny. I wish I remembered exactly what she said. (She did mention several times that if I need any help to ask. Several people were getting help. I am not implying they were not on top of things there.)

Oh, and I got my "I Voted" sticker. Now I can dress up as a "slutty voter" for Halloween!