Shameless Plug #2

October 25, 2005 at 8:40 am | Posted in General | Leave a comment

My second shameless self serving plug is for Vonage. I use Vonage as my home phone service. As phone services go, I cannot give Vonage the rave reviews that I give TiVo, however there are a number of things that I like about Vonage that I think make it better than regular phone service.

  1. Price – I pay 24.99 + tax for unlimited calling in the US and Canada. In other words, we can use the phone whenever and to whoever we want without worrying about the cost.
  2. Voicemail – Voicemail is pretty standard, however Vonage goes one better. You can set up your Vonage voice mail to send you an email with the message attached. You can also access your voice mail through the vonage web site. This is all in addition to the standard features of being able to call your voicemail from any phone.
  3. Call Forwarding with SimulRing – In addition to standard call forwarding, you can have your home phone and another phone ring at the same time. If you are expecting an important call, you can setup SimulRing so that your Cell Phone and Home Phone ring at the same time. Which ever phone answers the call will get the call. This is also a great feature if you are going on vacation and you want people to be able to get a hold of you without giving out another number.

You do have to have High Speed Internet (Cable Modem or DSL) to take advantage of Vonage. Vonage is not for everyone. Vonage can get disrupted by heavy internet traffic and internet outages. If you require the 99.999% reliability of traditional phone service, then Vonage is not for you. However if you are willing to trade off some of the reliability for a consistent bill of about $30 ( about a $40/month savings for me) then I would highly recommend Vonage.

If you are willing to use me as a referral, please click on this link and I will send you the information you need. You will get a credit equal to one months bill. I will get a credit of two times your bill up to $50. You will then have the ability to refer your friends as well.

Shameless Plugs

October 25, 2005 at 7:25 am | Posted in General | Leave a comment

This is my self-serving shameless plug a product that I use and appreciate very much.

TiVo has changed the way my family watches TV. TiVo enables so many things that you cannot do with a VCR. First of all, TiVo is extremely easy to “program”. You can select shows by titles, you can select shows through the viewing guide, or if you are really stubborn, you can program it by date, time and channel like you used to use a VCR. The real power of TiVo comes when you start using the Season Pass feature. You can program a VCR to tape once a week at a certain time, but what happens when that show is moved to a different time slot. TiVo takes care of that for you. When you set up a Season Pass, Your favorite shows are recorded regardless when the network runs the show. The other advantages over a VCR is capacity. TiVo’s start with a capacity of about 23 hours depending on the quality level you select for recording. You have access to any show that you recorded at any time, instead of hunting for the right tape. You also do not have to worry about having a blank tape around to record with. Then there are the features TiVo is really famous for. 1. Pausing Live TV. This is a great feature when you are watching something and get an important phone call or have to answer a call of another kind. You can leave and come back to the show right where it left off. 2. Instant Replay. TiVo saves up to the last half hour since you changed channels automatically. So if you are watching a political show and someone says something that makes you think “Did he really say that?” You don’t have to wait for the transcript or newspaper, you can simply rewind.

Ok, now why am I telling you all this? What is in it for me? I would like you to use me as a referral when you buy your own TiVo. It doesn’t help you any, but it does give me points for the TiVo Rewards program that once you are a member, you can use for yourself. Please click here and complete the form, and I will send you the information you need to use me as a referral for TiVo.

Christians are Wrong?

October 24, 2005 at 9:06 am | Posted in Religion | Comments Off on Christians are Wrong?

This is a funny one. Cenk Uygur posted this blog entry entitled “If You’re a Christian, Muslim or Jew – You are Wrong“. The funny thing is Mr. Uygur argues his point with such persuasive commentary as

“George W. Bush is the most powerful man alive. He is a class A imbecile. He is far less intelligent than the average Christian.”

and his support for this point is

“But like most of the others, he believes Jesus died for his sins. That idea is so perverse and devoid of logic it should shock the conscience. Instead, it gets him elected, and earns him the reverence of a great percentage of America. America! The most advanced country in the world — run by a bunch of villagers who still believe Santa Claus is going to save them.”

According to Mr. Uygur’s logic one must be an imbecile to believe that Jesus died for one’s sins. Yet no where does Mr. Uygur address this. He just assumes that his conclusion is true therefore proving his point. There are two logical fallacy’s here. One is a personal attack that basically says “if you disagree with me you are an imbecile.” The other is “Begging the Question”. Mr. Uygur uses the assumption of his conclusion being true to support his point of believing in Jesus as savior as perverse and devoid of logic. Mr. Uygur provides no evidence to support his claims that President Bush is an imbecile or that Jesus did not die for our sins.

But when you are “Stuck on Stupid”, logic doesn’t matter. It is much easier to call people names and draw false associations than to actually use logic.

Am I a Good Friend?

October 19, 2005 at 10:10 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment

I have recently been troubled by something that is happening in my church. I won’t name names even though no one actually reads this, but the thing that has me concerned is a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) business that is sweeping through my church. My wife and I were one of the first families approached. I was initially turned off because it just didn’t feel right. All of the discussion was about what money could do for us and not about what we had to do to earn the money. The business is essentially an internet portal that sells its goods only to its registered Independent Business Owners (IBOs). But the big push was not to buy products over the internet but to sign up as an IBO. Then we would be able to register other people to be IBOs and the more people we got to sign up as IBOs, the more money we would make. My wife and I politely said no and let it go.

Over the course of the last few weeks, more and more families from our church are signing up. My wife and I started thinking that maybe we were missing something. The group had a monthly seminar last Saturday so we decided to go. Me, working in IT, of course had to Google this business to see what I could find out good and bad. Unfortunately the bad stuff had the truest ring to me. This is in large part why I am a conservative and a Christian, the arguments on the conservative and the Christian side make the most sense to me. Well we attended the seminar and that confirmed to me that there was no stinking way we were going to sign up. Over my dead body may have be a little too strong, but not much. The seminar told us how great the business was, but it never really told us what the business was. I also learned that in order to be really successful, I needed to buy CD/Books/Videos that would train me in how to be successful. I remember sitting in the big room with 3000 other people and saying to my wife, “either I am the only one who doesn’t get this or I am the only one who does.”

I was fine though. My friends are doing this and I am not and that is ok. Or at least I thought this until I came across this article “What’s Wrong With Multi-Level Marketing?” This article makes a very persuasive argument that rings very true with me. This is now raising the questions in my head about what I should do about my friends. My very dear and special friends who I would hope would intervene with me if I were doing something wrong. I am convicted to the point that I don’t know if I can call them my friends if I don’t make them aware of the issues with MLM. Let me just hit the key points of the article.

If this product or service is so great, then why isn’t it being sold through the customary marketing system that has served human society for thousands of years? Why does it need to resort to a “special marketing” scheme like an MLM? Why does everyone need to be so inexperienced at marketing this!

I was not able to articulate this when I heard the pitch, but this point was right in line with my thinking.

For most MLMs, the product is really a mere diversion from the real profit-making dynamic. To anyone familiar with MLMs, the previous discussion (which focused so much on the fact that MLMs are “doomed by design” to reach market saturation and thus put the people who are legitimately trying to sell the product into a difficult situation) may seem to miss the point. The product or service may well be good, and it might oversaturate at some point, but let’s get serious. The product is not the incentive to join an MLM. Otherwise people might have shown an interest in selling this particular product or service before in the real world. The product is the excuse to attempt to legitimate the real money-making engine. It’s “the cover.”

This explains, at least to me, why the “internet portal” was a side discussion and how much money could be made was the big thing.

So, MLMs profit by conning recruits up-front with a “distributorship fee,” and then make further illicit money by “confidencing” these hapless victims as they fail via the “sale” of collateral material.

Yes the “bookstore” was open for business at the seminar. And if you aren’t successful, it is because you are not following the advice given in the materials.

If you are a materialist, you only have to get over the cheekiness of the presentation. But if you do not wish to promote such ideas, if you consider them sinful, then this puts you at the focal point of a moral dilemma. Do you wish to be a salesperson for materialism?

This is where the tugging at my heart began.

It is generally agreed that to mislead people in order to get their money is morally reprehensible. It is labeled “theft” or “fraud,” and those who do it should be punished. No one is naive enough to suggest that you can’t make money at it. Crime can pay, at least temporarily.

Pyramid schemes are illegal. They are illegal because they are exploitative and dishonest. They exploit the most vulnerable of people: the desperate, the out-of-work, the ignorant. Those who start and practice such fraud, should, and increasingly are, being punished for their crimes.

But add a product for cover, and call it an MLM, and people are willing to swallow its legality. Is this true? Really? Who says so?

Wow, Now I am really convicted. This makes total sense to me and this is the road I see my friends going down and I don’t know what I should do.

And MLMs look so legitimate to the public, so decent. So many nice people are involved. Surely, it can’t be illegal! The people lower down may even defend the very organization that is robbing them, hoping that they might get their chance to make “the big money” later.

This is another big kicker. I know my friends would never do anything like this if they really understood what they are doing.

Many readers will share the experience of observing MLMs divide families, friends, churches, and civic groups. Lifelong friends are now “prospects.” The neighborhood is now “a market.” Motives change, suspicions rise, divisions form. The question is begged: “Is it worth it?”

Especially nasty is the church situation. Will the pastor join? If not, he will take a dim view of MLM proselytizing at church functions; animosity will rise, factions will form. You are either “in” or out. If the pastor joins, then those who are not “in” will feel a little uncomfortable in this church.

I can already see that this is happening in our church. Our pastor has already been pitched and I don’t know where his will land on this issue, but I think it is the start of something bad that I hope our church can withstand.

They will claim to have made “new friends,” most of which are MLMers or new acquaintances who could be considered “future prospects.” The shallowness of these “new friends,” the stilted conversations among the “old friends,” and the embarrassment, in general, for what seems clear to everyone but the MLMer go unnoticed. Callousness sets in; standards are lowered.

This is what I saw when I was introduced to the other MLMer’s during and after the seminar. People that were way too over the top friendly to be real. It was all the keys of the “How To Win Friends And Influence People” without the required authenticity. But since they were looking at me as potentially enlarging their wallet by emptying mine, I suppose the had reason to be nice.

Non-MLM real-world businesses that offer products of interest to friends, family, etc., such as insurance agents and small retail shop owners, seem to be more circumspect in dealing with personal relationships in all but a few rare (and grievous) cases. But the MLMer is recognizable by duplicity of friendship overtures, overbearing glad-handing, full-time prospecting, outrageous initial deception, and social callousness. This is no accident, but rather sheer desperation. How could it be otherwise? For the active MLMer is in a hopeless bear trap: with hubris as one steel jaw and oversaturation the other.

My job in Corporate America is in IT and I will not accept money when I work on friends or familys computers. If they what to buy me a dinner or lunch or something, that is fine as long as they have dinner with me, but I can think of little as awkward as taking money for helping my friends.

The Summary:

  1. MLMs are “doomed by design” to recruit too many salespeople, who in turn will then attempt to recruit even more salespeople, ad infinitum.

  2. For many, the real attraction of involvement in multi-level marketing is the thinly veiled pyramid con-scheme made quasi-legal by the presence of a product or service.

  3. The ethical concessions necessary to be “successful” in many MLM companies are stark and difficult to deal with for most people.

  4. Friends and family should be treated as such, and not as “marks” for exploitation.

What should I do? If I believe the above wouldn’t I be required to tell my friends if they truly are my friends. But my friends are good people and they would never be involved in something like this if what I believe is true. Anyone who happens to read this, please pray for me to reach the right decision.

Lower Huron Metropark Cyclocross

October 18, 2005 at 1:42 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment

I completed my third race of cyclocross season at Lower Huron Metropark on Sunday (10/16). I finished 19th and missed 18th by 1.5 seconds. I just did not have the sprint left in my legs to catch him. It was a fun race and a fast course. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I think I averaged just over 13 mph. My average heart rate for the race was 170 bpm which was a little lower than my last race. I am not sure if that means that I didn’t go hard enough or what. At the finish, I didn’t feel like I had anything left, but I am not sure now.

The next race for me is November 13 in my hometown of Monroe, MI at Munson Park. I hope the weather cooperates.

Supreme Court Nominations (Revisited)

October 10, 2005 at 6:57 am | Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Supreme Court Nominations (Revisited)

Speaking of Networks stuck on stupid, I found this on CNN.com. The first thing to note is the great glee that CNN takes in reporting a “rift” in the Republican party. Here is my list of the “stuck on stupid” in this process:

  1. Networks that gleefully report a “rift” in the Republican Party. There is no more a “rift” in the Republican party than there is between elected Democrats and the party activists like MoveOn.org.
  2. People (Conservatives) who are critical of Harriet Miers as a person without knowing her. I have heard a number of conservative critical of Ms. Miers’ intellect, stature, blah, blah, blah. All of this from people who have never met her or even know her.
  3. People (Liberals) who want to accuse President Bush of appointing his buddies without knowing anything about her. This is right up there with being critical of her personally without knowing her.

Close to being “stuck on stupid” are the conservatives who are critical of the President for not nominating an “In Your Face” known conservative judge. This is the argument I am most sympathetic with. I agree that the Democrats and liberalism in general are teetering on the edge of obscurity, but I do not think a Supreme Court nomination will push them over the edge. I think that is going to take a conservative victory in the 2008 presidential election. I think that when this President asks us to “trust him” in this nomination, he deserves the benefit of a doubt. If for no other reason, than he has not betrayed conservatives yet. Let’s wait for hearings and listen to what Ms. Miers has to say before we are critical of her. I expect Liberals to be “stuck on stupid” but come on Conservatives, let’s not fall into that trap.

There is No God (And You Know It) — Not So Fast

October 9, 2005 at 7:05 am | Posted in Religion | Comments Off on There is No God (And You Know It) — Not So Fast

I ran across this article while I was looking at del.icio.us/popular. One might expect a Conservative Christian like myself to lose it over an article like this. Mr. Harris only makes me feel sorry for him. I won’t kid anyone by trying to explain why God lets tragedy happen. I understand that I will not understand why tragedy’s happen. I just see the 70 or so years on earth as nothing compared to eternity in heaven. I know that the end of a life on earth had to be tragic for someone who doesn’t believe in God. That is because when you boil down the belief that there is no God, there is no purpose for life. How truly sad that must be.

As for me, I will continue to pray for people like Mr. Harris. If Mr. Harris is right, when we die, we die. If I am right, when we die, our new life begins and our choice is between smoking and non-smoking. This is not a question I would want to be “Stuck on Stupid” over.

Back to Maybury

October 6, 2005 at 6:49 am | Posted in General | Leave a comment

I went riding at Maybury State Park again last night with my friend Gary. We both had frustrating days at work and almost chose not to go. But the weather was beautiful and days like yesterday are fast turning to fall weather. I was kind of on a mission and got in a zone that just felt great. We where riding the trail faster than we ever had and instead of stopping for a short break at the end of our first lap, continued and completed the second lap without stopping. It was a great ride. I can’t think of a better way to leave a bad day at work behind.

Catholic Church No Longer Swears By The Truth Of The Bible

October 6, 2005 at 6:38 am | Posted in Religion | Comments Off on Catholic Church No Longer Swears By The Truth Of The Bible

I could not make this one up if I tried. This is what happens when humans commit the sin of pride and think they are greater in any way than God. I understand why someone would choose not to believe the bible, but I do not understand how someone who dedicates their life to a church based on the bible would choose not to believe it.

I cannot say that I know these bishops are wrong, but I certainly think getting caught up in what the world thinks is “Stuck on stupid.”

Supreme Court Nominations

October 4, 2005 at 6:00 am | Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Supreme Court Nominations

Ann Coulter is out there slamming the President’s Choice. Bill Kristol is “disappointed, depressed and demoralized.” Even my conservative hero Rush Limbaugh call this choice a choice made from “weakness.” I don’t get it. I know that all my conservative friends want to act like the left and whack around the liberals in a big brawl.

I would love that too, but not with something as important as a Supreme Court nomination. The Supreme Court is far too important to play games with. There is one thing that this President has been very consistent about and that is keeping his word. He has told us what kind of judges he intends to nominate and has not given us a reason to to believe he would do otherwise.

We are following the mold of MoveOn.org if we continually undercut the good quality leadership that we elected because he doesn’t fight the way we want him too. The goal is to get good quality judges on the Supreme Court who do not legislate from the bench. This goal trumps the Conservative/Liberal battle. If we don’t have a solid Supreme Court, the Conserative/Liberal battle will be irrelevant because the Liberals will institute their ideas in the courts instead of having to argue them in front of the people. This article in the American Thinker is right on target.

Let’s not get “stuck on stupid” acting like the Left Wing Wackos because we are not getting our way.

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