Monday, February 18, 2008

Why Network Redneck?

To co-workers and colleagues the "Network" part is obvious enough. I've been administering computer systems and networks for my whole career. The "Redneck" part is clearer to my closer friends. I feel quite at home discussing vehicles, cockleburs, hog breeds, or Grandmother's chamber pot. For many generations, my family has at one time or another made a living from sharecropping. Relative to many I've had it quite easy, but I am certainly familiar with the rural South. Familiar enough that I don't find anything derogatory in the term "redneck." Funny maybe, but not derogatory.


DSC00308 [Two old small block chevy engine blocks and a couple of pieces of pipe make one fine redneck log rack!]


Growing up I thoroughly enjoyed watching hogs root around in South Alabama creeks (before ADEM decided that was taboo). I enjoyed helping butcher a hog for the New Year's Day barbeque over a pit of coals. I enjoyed riding on the tailgate of a pickup with my feet touching the ground every now and again as we went from pasture to pasture. I enjoyed digging for worms around the kitchen sink drain before going crappie fishing. Most of the things I enjoyed about my youth would fall squarely in the redneck category. With a little luck I'll retire to a place which lets me relive those days and avoid being hauled off to jail by a "revenuer" or someone else who thinks I'm an old loon who belongs in an asylum.


In the meantime I'll continue to administer a computer network here or there, and enjoy helping people learn that technology and rednecks are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Maybe somewhere along the way I'll take time to share a story or two just for entertainment. Thanks for sharing in my journey.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Parent Guides to Internet Safety, Video Games, MySpace, Facebook, and more

Seldom do I agree with everything anyone has to say, but I find myself in complete agreement with the folks from the "National Institute on MEDIA and the FAMILY"...and they have *lots* of advice. I wish you didn't have to sign up for an account to download the parent guides, but they are worth it. As with any site that asks for a username and password, create a new one (not the one you use for finances/email/etc) and store it in a password manager if necessary. Look for advice related to Social Networking, Online Gaming, Cell Phones, Parental Ratings, Emerging Technologies, MySpace, Facebook, and other areas.

The Institute also has some "plans" to serve as a contract between child and parent for rules related to online activities, but I prefer the one from the Family Online Safety Institute. Its length makes it less reasonable, but it is rather inclusive...including a reminder for parents not to overreact when kids show them something bad.

I'll use a quote from the Parent Buying Guide to close this post.

When we buy our kids everything they want, they miss out on some of the things they really need to succeed - like perseverance, generosity and the ability to delay gratification. Some things you can’t buy at a store. Does this mean we can’t buy our kids anything, ever? Of course not. It does mean it’s okay to say no sometimes.

Spend twice as much time, and half as much money as you can afford, with your kids.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Electoral College and US Presidential Elections

At first glance one might think the map below shows that almost the whole US voted Republican in the 2004 Presidential Election.


Wikipedia's article about Red vs Blue states -


In reality, the vote was rather evenly split between the Democratic and Republican candidates. It is even possible that the candidate getting the most total votes could lose our Presidential election (it happened in the 2000 Presidential Election.) The reason is described in detail on that web page, but the bottom line is that the Electoral College takes into account population and geographic factors. From the population map below it is easy to see that a Presidential voting system based purely on popular vote would leave Montana and Wyoming with practically no say in the election whatsoever, while the New York area would rule supreme.



Our forefathers didn't establish the US without such considerations. It may not be perfect, but the US governmental system is one of the most successful ventures ever produced by a committee.