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Archive of April, 2001

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[Permalink 2001-04-18] Religious Tolerance Means "Tolerating Religion"

April 18, 2001:

Just so nobody thinks I'm some sort of anti-religion wacko, I thought I'd weigh in on another religious-type issue, this one more specific to the Pittsburgh area.

When the Allegheny County courthouse was built early in the 20th century, a group of people (can't remember the name right now and I'm too lazy to look it up) donated a plaque with the Ten Commandments on it to be placed on the wall of the courthouse. The plaque has stayed there, more or less unnoticed, for more than half a century.

Then some college student saw it and decided it made him feel discriminated against. The plaque endorses one religious view over another, he says, I'm being left out because I don't share the same views. Bullshit. People like that give us atheists a bad name.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, the idea of separation of church and state has been removing anything vaguely religious from public grounds for years, going back to before either this punk kid or myself were born. In an effort to grope for his 15 minutes of fame, he's managed to offend just about everyone -- Christian, atheist, Jew, whatever -- in the city.

The plaque was placed something like 70 years ago. It's a part of Pitsburgh's history, just like the courthouse building itself is. Would I fight tooth-and-nail to prevent a similar plaque being put up on a public building today? You bet your ass I would; it's just not appropriate to mix religion and law. Yes, I know most of our laws are derived from religious laws, but the more important ones stand on their own -- I don't need god telling me "Thou Shalt Not Kill" to know it's wrong.

But this is different. We have an opportunity here to teach people how easy it is, in the face of a perceived threat to society's morals, to fall into a semi-theocracy. Instead of fighting to remove the plaque, non-Christians and non-Jews should be fighting to highlight it. We should put up one of those blue historical markers, like they have in front of the WQED building in Oakland, to tell people who put the plaque there, why they did it, and why we as a society have realized that we shouldn't do things like that.

But that would require an open discussion, which might in turn lead to understanding and (gasp) acceptance of people who aren't like you in every way. It's worth a shot though.

[Permalink 2001-04-16] God Loves Everybody -- Except These Guys

April 16, 2001:

I'm going to start this one off by saying that I have no problems with any of the world's religions. They may have different ideals and different ways of expressing their faith, but all things considered, relgion isn't detrimental to a society.

It's the people who practice religions that can cause problems. Take the most blatant display of Christian evagelicalism and (in my opinion) anti-Semitism I've seen in quite a long time.

The guy who writes the comic strip "B.C." is obnoxiously Christian. And I have enough of a problem with that simply because B.C. markets itself as a children's comic -- I don't think anyone should be allowed to force their views on a kid who's barely old enough to read. You want to touch on theology, save it for the more adult-geared strips like "Rex Morgan M.D." or any of that other schlock that nobody reads. Leave the kids alone.

But I swallow down my bile with B.C. because the strips are usually fairly innocuous, even when he's being preachy. If a kid of a non-Christian faith reads most of his religion-oriented strips, a parent can simply explain it as a part of the writer's beliefs, and that the family believes differently. In essence, no harm no foul.

The Easter 2001 strip was, to be blunt, way the hell over the line. I don't make a habit of getting offended for people but in this case I'll make an exception.

The strip shows a Jewish menorah fizzling out one candle at a time. The captions for each panel are snippets of what are allegedly Jesus Christ's last words as recorded in the Christian New Testament. The final panel, in which the last candle has gone out, transforms the menorah into a cross.

Now I'm no expert on the Jewish religion, but showing one of the more important symbols of the religion being snuffed out by the Christian god's words is probably an insult at best. On top of that the whole of that day's strip seems to perpetuate the "Jews Killed Jesus" theme that keeps anti-Semitism alive in mostly-Christian countries today.

Am I over-reacting? Personally, I don't think so. But I'm sure that if some devout Christian ever reads this I'll get a nice little piece of hate-mail. If I do I'll be sure to post it. And what's my point in all this? That the world would be a better place if we all just kept or gods to ourselves and stopped trying to show everyone else why they're wrong.

[Permalink 2001-04-12] Random Thoughts

April 12, 2001:

Not much happening today, so I'll just toss a few nuggets out there.

· Got a little vindication from our project manager today. Apparently both her and her husband have been ready to beat the snot out of dick-boy. Always nice to know I'm not the odd person out.

· Skated for the second time Wednesday. Got all the way to the jail this time, instead of turning around at the end of the Eliza Furnace Trail. Feet weren't as sore as yesterday, but the toes on my right foot were numb. Guess I had that skate done up a little too tightly.

· Clients are idiots. There, I said it.

· Conversely, I like doing client work. I don't think I could stay interested in a single site once it was built. That's how it was at CMU BME. Of course, there I'd have stretches of weeks at a time where all I had to do was play Team Fortress Quake.

· The Penguins start their playoff series tonight at 7:38. I may have to drive in slight excess of the speed limit to make it home in time. Hope my mother and stepfather understand my need to confiscate the TV, seeing as how it's the playoffs and all...

· Nobody's reading these things anyway, but in case someone is, there won't be any more Brain Farts until next week dues to my being in Akron over the Easter weekend. Ya don't have to believe in god to get a free meal out of him :)

[Permalink 2001-04-11] Getting in Shape If it Kills Me

April 11, 2001:

Time to get back to Brain Farts. Been busy lately. Had to work a lot of overtime at the end of last week, then yesterday I just didn't feel like staring at a monitor. But I'm feeling back to (what passes for) normal now.

I started rollerblading today. I've decided to lose my beer gut, and I've come to the sad realization that I'll have to exercise to do it. So I plan on skating back and forth on the Eliza Furnace Trail along Second Avenue in South Oakland every day throughout the summer, and into the fall. I figure I'll start slowly (just once out and back today) and gradually build up as my metabolism rises to the occasion.

I've also starting eating a little better. I haven't gone completely crazy -- I just like fattening foods too much -- but I am at least cutting back a little bit. If I put up a really enthusiastic post in mid-June, it's working. If I don't, it probably isn't.

Beer's gonna be tough though. I don't drink very often, but beer is just so good.

How are things shaping up as of Day One? Well, my feet hurt, my ankles hurt, my shins hurt, and I learned you have to cinch those skates up tight to use them properly. But I think I'll be OK in the evening and go at it again. Gotta start somewhere.

Think losing 25 pounds is too great a goal?

[Permalink 2001-04-04] Losing When You Should Win, Winning When You Should Lose

April 04, 2001:

Well, enough about my job... let's talk sports.

As I've said elsewhere, I've become a big hockey fan -- my Impulse Buy of the Month is a replica of the Penguins alternate jersey -- so I'm following the last games leading into the playoffs very closely. The Pens had been on a bit of a tear, winning four in a row and playing a defensive scheme called the left-wing lock. Less restrictive than the neutral-zone trap, but it also allows them to flex their offensive muscle.

Anyway, on this gour-game winning streak, they beat some good teams: The New Jersey Devils, currently the best team in the Eastern Conference; the Buffalo Sabers, the East's current number five seed; then came a gimme against the out-of-contention Chicago Blackhawks; and a win against the St. Louis Blues, the fourth seed in the West. So you could say they're firing on all cylinders.

Then they played a game against the New York Islanders. The Isles are the worst team in the league -- literally -- with a 21-48-7 record. They're 53 points behind the division-leading Devils. In baseball terms, that's 26-1/2 games back. Hockey only plays an 82-game season, half that of baseball. These guys suck.

And they're the only team in the Atlantic Division with a winning record against the Pens. New Jersey, the best team in the East? Just under .500 at 1-2-2. The Philadelphia Flyers (with a 41-24-11 record) are 1-3 against Pittsburgh, with a game remaining. The Rangers, missing the playoffs by a few points? Also lost the season series to the Pens. Just the lowly Islanders.

The Penguins do this really annoying thing called playing down to the level of the competition. They don't take a team seriously, and get caught flat-footed and wind up sweating it out (or losing).

So I'm hoping that the Pens are always the low seed. They're currently sixth in the East (the top eight teams go) so they'll be the underdogs just about anywhere they go.

Which is probably the best thing that could happen to them.

Lets go, Pens!

[Permalink 2001-04-03] Jason Needs a New Job, Part II

April 03, 2001:

Well, where was I? Ah, yes...

Monday was another good example of what's wrong with this company. Every Monday morning we have our meeting, to get everyone up to date on active projects, smooth out any scheduling conflicts, and so on. Good idea.

Well, last week at our meeting, TweedleDipShit told us that our project manager was too out of the loop. I know you're used to being self-sufficient, he said, but we brought this person in to make things go more smoothly. So we did as he asked us to, and coordinated with the project manager -- we only have one right now -- on our projects.

Monday, he told us that we were relying too much on our project manager, and that we'd have to be "more proactive" and "self-sufficient." We all just sat there not believing what we were hearing... this dumbfuck had reversed himself over the course of seven days. I'm starting to agree with one of the people I ate lunch with -- he just likes hearing himself talk. It's understandable: He's a marketing drone, so he has no real knowledge or skills; he's essentially a cheerleader we send to the clients to get them excited about working with us.

Which is another reason I can't stand this guy. He's perpetually perky and 100% full of shit. We had a talk (bordering on conversation) when he arrived, and the junk he was shoveling would have knocked a buzzard off a shit truck at a hundred yards. I told him I wanted to take on a more project-management type of role with the company (we hadn't hired the project manager yet) and get into client contact. You know, becoming a "more valuable asset." He responded by harping on every single mistake I made (and being micromanaged by this shit-head caused me to make way more mistakes than usual) and over the past several months my responsibilities have been steadily decreasing. The amount of shit I get blamed for, on the other hand, is on the rise.

And people wonder why my morale is in the shitter...

[Permalink 2001-04-02] Jason Needs a New Job

April 02, 2001:

File this one under "Jason needs a new job." It'll probably wind up being the first part out of many.

I have two major projects on my plate at work right now. One of them is a client site with a two-week production schedule (Week One just ended), the other is the comapny site that's been on hold since what seems like the Stone Age. Well, a couple people have giant bugs up their asses about it now, so it's going to (allegedly) go live on the 11th of April.

Now, I don't mind having work. In fact, I prefer it to sitting at my desk all day reading CNN, hoping there'll be a war in some backward central European country to make my day interesting. Been there, done that, hated every minute. What I hate is the way we always (and I mean always) go about the work. We've been MindChisel since August 1, 2000. That's eight months as of my writing this. Now all of a sudden we want to launch in two weeks. In the mean time, we've been dicking around with this client since late last year, and we're just now entering production. Of course, the deadline can't change because of the client's retardedness, so as always the people doing production get fucked.

The account managers see nothing wrong with this. Even though every time, they swear they'll never let us get into a situation like this where the people who do the actual work make up for their laziness/ ineptness/ welcome-mat-ness/ whatever. And each time, the same goddamn thing happens.

We have Procedures out the wazoo, detailing every aspect of how to do a project. What we don't have is a procedure called "Account Managers: How Not To Get Shafted By The Client." And I know they know better, which is what makes this all the more irritating.

OK, I've hit the limit I imposed on myself for one of these things (passed it, actually). I'll finish spewing vitriol tomorrow.

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