My little sister Annie had a car wreck, yesterday. She’s fine (just sore and banged up); but the car may not be in such good shape. It’ll be a few days before we know about that (in terms of what insurance will or won’t do and even in terms of which insurance company pays for what).
I’m not as hopeful regarding the economy… I’ve been withholding my thoughts on the most recent tax cut, for two simple reasons: (1) I think it’s a sincere effort to boost the economy, and (2) I think it’s terribly misguided. Fact is, I don’t think the government can stop a major economic crash – one which makes the Great Depression look like a speed bump – no matter how drastic the measures. Since I do think, though, that the cuts are intended to both help the average taxpayer and boost the economy, I’ve mostly kept quiet. Well, an article on the IRS website has sealed my opinion of this fiasco…
I think we just tossed $350 billion down a giant drain… Why? Well, psychology – not events – drives the economy. Think about it – in and of itself, an earnings report, a Fed rate cut, even terrorist attacks do not change the market values of stocks, new homes, or plane fares. People’s reactions do. In other words, reservations and prices at American Airlines don’t drop 20% because somebody hijacked a plane; they drop because people see that, get scared, and cancel reservations.
In any case, the problem here is that the government wants to keep people spending, because that’s the only way the economy can grow. The problem is that the average American accumulates more debt than income, each year. That can’t last! What a mess.
So, what do I think the government should do? Tighten the old belt and prepare to weather hard times, rather than wasting money and postponing the inevitable.
On a lighter note, I’m going to go enjoy some “Taylor time.” (Taylor being the manufacturer of my guitar.)
Today’s breakthrough is discovering a great and free spam filter for Outlook 2000 (and up) which uses Bayesian filtering. It’s called Spammunition.
For those not familiar with these filters, a Bayesian filter operates on the assumption that history repeats itself: the odds of something being true in the future (or the present) can be predicted extremely well from the odds that the same thing was true in the past. In other words, without doing any complex combinatorics or statistical analysis, the fact that a playing card is a red 50% of the time over hundreds of draws is a great predictor that the odds of the next card being red are also 50%. In terms of emails, this would imply that if emails containing the word “weight” are spam 99% of the time (they are), we can delete any future emails containing that word with 99% confidence.
The trick here is to get beyond that 99%. Imagine if 1% of your legitimate emails get randomly deleted, and you happen to own an online business. That could be very expensive! So, we look at the weights of all the words in the message, including headers, subjects, etc, and combine them appropriately. Some filters using this technique (called Bayesian filtering, because it’s based on Bayes’s Rule) pass 99.95% accuracy. Now, that’s getting there. For more info, read Paul Graham’s website.
Topsail is roaring right along, this month – we have a number of new web design and search engine optimization prospects, and the business itself is on solid footing, for a while, even without new cash flow! God is good. We turned down an enormous, but morally questionable, contract about three weeks ago; I can’t help but think the latest blessings are due to God’s hand on this business.
Annie (my sister, age 22) is going to the ER, tonight, due to ongoing inflamation (and maybe a new infection) from a poorly performed root canal, months ago. Turns out, she never even needed a root canal, but this jerk of doctor did one, anyway. She’ll see him in court…
Meanwhile, I need some sleep – Campus Crusade’s Worldwide Day of Prayer is tomorrow, so I have to report in earlier than usual.
Tomorrow is, of course, Easter Sunday. To me, it’s the single most amazing day of the year: it validates not only the Christian faith, but all of life. What a beautiful story. Sadly, so few people understand it. Good Friday is a wonderful thing: on that day, as Christ died on the cross, because (and only because) He was God, He conquered death in the sense of removing the penalty, yet, without the Resurrection, we still wouldn’t have had a hope for eternal life!
To quote Tony Campolo, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” May this Easter find you and yours well, and may God truly bless you with the gift of life in Him.
So, I’ve been watching “Avoiding Armageddon,” which is poorly named and sponsored by Ted Turner (read, “biased beyond belief”), but interesting, nonetheless. Basically, it tells me things aren’t as bad as I think – they’re worse… I’m also perusing the MySQL manual and contemplating about a dozen projects of various sorts. Life is far too complicated.
I need some business and about a dozen employees, so I can get some sleep…
Well, after just about 2 years in absentia, my blog is back, with a new look and new name. Of course, nobody had even heard of a “blog” in 2001, when I built this system, so it was an “online journal,” or maybe a “weblog,” but whatever… The latest from my random brain follows…
A lot has changed, lately. One of my dear friends has left this world to be with the Lord, my first car died, I’m working 70+ hours a week, and I’m now an entrepreneur. That, of course, leaves out the time I spent in France and North Africa! My, how the time flies.
Anyway, I only ever took this blog off the web because of security concerns involved in my time overseas. I’m a bit less worried about that, now that I’m in Fayetteville, GA – freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. Speaking of which, check out TongueTied.us (formerly part of the Fox News site), which has been “Carping about the excesses of clueless crybabies since the turn of the century.”
Anyway, I should find food. Until next time!
Made a critical mistake last night: I tried to right an insignificant wrong in the world by politely correcting the New York Times’ usage of the word “linguist.” They wrote me a rather sharp reply and pointed out that, in fact, numerous dictionaries support false meanings as primary (“speaker of multiple languages,” which is really a “polyglot”). Meanwhile, Linguistics 200 homework has just consumed two more hours of my life – it didn’t teach me anything; it just provided some useless brain-teasers which are slightly subjective, not highly intellectually satisfying to crack, and more than a bit weakly linked to the material at hand, usually. Glad I’m not majoring in LING – this might be a tad late to switch tracks… (Somebody did that freshman year – two weeks before graduation, declared a change of majors from Biochemistry to Political Science, requiring an extra two years of school. WOW.). Anyway, I’m off to bed now. No more linguistic torture today…
Wow. Every day I live, I marvel at how hard you can work to accomplish so little. Solomon (in Ecclesiastes, in the Bible) was dead on: all this is meaningless and chasing after the wind, unless rooted in (a) knowledge of God, (b) eternal purpose, and (c) things that DO matter here – family, friends, a lasting impact in the lives of others.
Lately, I’ve been working on support stuff – I know I’m making progress, and I have some great people helping me with referrals and such, but it is intense.
Meanwhile, I’m also reading “Ten Stupid Things Men Do to Mess Up Their Lives” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger (a.k.a. Dr. Laura, nationally syndicated talk show host). That woman has some really good sense. I’m also very tired… I’m gonna take a nap. I love being a senior. 🙂
Well, Austin was great. Looks like we’ll have a really fun team – I got to hang out with the two girls (Becca and Kristen, both from Baylor), though our other guy is from Ohio, so he wasn’t there. I also got answers to a bunch of “details” questions, meaning I don’t have quite so many things bouncing around in my head. The biggest issue now is support – I need a total of $39,250 for next year, and I have no idea where that’s coming from. I need to get to work on that now, especially since I got almost nothing done today – I messed up a due date for a term paper (I thought it was next Tuesday, not today), so I pulled an all-nighter, then slept it off all day. On the flip side, that was my last really big assignment as an undergrad. That’s a good thing. Well, off to support work…
Well, my dad got a job today (he’s been out of work since the fall). He’s selling cars at the Ford dealership in my hometown (Fayetteville, GA), with potential to move into management. It’s not really his field, but it’s a job – right now, that’s what matters. I told him it’s only OK with me if he can find me a deal on a truck when the time comes…
Meanwhile, I’m getting ready to go to Austin for a preparation weekend for my 1-2 year trip to the Middle East. That’s been on my mind all week; for one thing, I have $36,000 to raise in less than four months, which is intimidating. In addition, there were some recent arrests of evangelical Christians in the country I’m going to… that’s a little unnerving. I’ll gladly go to jail for my faith, if that’s what I’m called to, but I’d prefer not to, otherwise. Anyway, I’m helping with music in Austin, so I’m trying to run through a couple songs.
I just had to interrupt this – a neighbor of mine came to the door to invite me to her church. Life always stays interesting…