A Simple but Dangerous Soundbite

Marshfield student James Pavlik Jr., said "The First Amedment was to protect the church from the government, not the government from the church."

The belief that the government is not permitted to defend The People from churches that wish to enforce its rules and ideology on everybody through indoctrination laws is a brazen stance against democracy.

What Mr. Pavli said may sound good, but its repercussions if true are dangerous for the foundation of our society. I'm curious if he knows what he said, or it just sounded good so he said it.

EULA Agreement - What Constitutes Objectionable Material

I recently purchased a new smart phone. Not having one before, I have started to download applications. All applications have some sort of End User License Agreement. There was a problem with a credit card charge at a local Apple Store (a separate story in its own right) that caused me to want a mobile app from American Express for checking recent charges. During install, the EULA was displayed. Yes, I am the kind of person that reads these agreements and get great pleasure and frustration from Ridiculousness legal tar pit we created in the US. Item number 9 out of 25 in the 40 page agreement is curious - very curious. This app is for reviewing charges and making payments in relationship to my Amex card. What about item number 9?

"9. Objectionable Materials. You understand that by accessing and/or using any of the Services, you may encounter content that may be deemed offensive, indecent or objectionable, which content may or may not have be as having explicit language..." this fair warning that Amex is about to use foul language and cuss at me if I am near my limit or two days late? Is Amex going to show me sordid and contemptuous statements? Maybe the number 69 may appear on a charge somewhere. There may even be a double objectionable $69.69 charge somebody quite by accident I am sure. Or maybe Amex is just concerned that we may find the fees are indecent or objectionable. Actually I like Amex and they have done a great job with their website application and have been years ahead of other card issuers for their services especially if you are a small business owner. The latest mobile app seems to keep in that tradition and is pretty good.

Some things Shoud Just Never be Automated

I received a letter today from Chase regarding a mortgage loan. It was not addressed to me, but was written by Chase in response to me letting them know mom and dad are now both deceased. It reads as follows:

"Dear Glen and Judith,

We have been notified [that you are] deceased. We understand that this may be a difficult time for you and we are here to assist you in any way we can.  You should continue making mortgage payments...Again we know this may be a difficult time and were here to help. If you have any question please call us



Vaporware II - Fall of the Audio Control Now Playing Nowhere Near You!

I got caught-up in a misleading ad. So what does the ad below imply about the availability the Valet home control software? This is the control system for our older, but still good whole house audio system. Compare the availability information on the two different versions - read the bottom.


Realizing that while the pro version is not available, the standard version is available although just in Beta so I ordered it. I'm willing to deal with the quirks of Beta software. I requested licensing for our system just to discover there is no software yet. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem, however, I already purchased and installed the required gateway hardware from the same manufacture. The website should clearly state it is not available just like it does for Valet PRO so as not to mislead. Sometimes, it is not what you say but the context in which you say it. The pro version is clearly not available implying the standard version is available. They just want you to conculde it is becuase the pro version is not. In reality only making a request is available.

I have worked in the software development industry since the late 70's.  I once ordered a software tool in 1980 that was to change everything for my life as a programmer. It was somewhat expensive, but I paid the money. The tool arrived in a great looking box typical of software packages of the day. It had pretty pictures displaying all the features with fancy graphics of how it saves time and money. I opened the box and it was empty except for a card thanking me for my purchase. It went on to say they will send the software at such time when they finish writing it.  I never received the software nor a refund. It was my first experience in vaporware.

It is not at all clear to me why companies feel that can "get on the market band wagon" by claiming they are about to release something when the aren't ready. They don't have the product. There is nothing to sell. What does it say about a company that lacks the will to be honest? Slipping schedules and software not being ready is common and understandable. But selling and shipping hardware that has to be installed by running power and network cables without telling customers the software is not available? As Gary put it, this is like buying a TV, getting it home and only then to find out there is nobody broadcasting. This control product only works on their systems. They are a special player in the whole home audio industry. Their customers are not going anywhere. I am not going anywhere. They shouldn't have done this. It is one thing to say coming soon. It is another to say, hey try it out only to receive a message that oops - sorry we really don't have the product yet, but please wait because it is gong to be great.

I have been fairly cautions about these situations over the last 35 years. I hope this does not become my second experience with vaporware.

Marriage Chaos

Well the Supreme Court made a mess out of things. As of “The Day of Chaos” when the marriage discrimination barrier tumbled down across most of America, the Supreme Court created no less than eight different legal statuses for same sex marriages simply by refusing to hear any one of nine cases. Two legal standings is a judicial state of confusion. Eight different statuses in the United States is complete out-and-out chaos. As married same sex couples travel across the united states through the woods to grandmothers house this Thanksgiving, their marriage may be legal, not legal, legal but not recognized by the state, stayed pending legal review, indeterminate (no status either way), or any one of three other statuses when they pass from one State and into another. Worse, in some states the status may be determined by county or municipality and the political alignment of the person in authority on hand.

I wrote a year ago, “as one dissenting justice put it, wait and listen for the second shoe. The court majority is telling us DOMA laws will not stand. Let the new discrimination cases begin!” Well he was right although he was by no means clairvoyant. Yes, a title wave of chases were ruled upon. However, these were not new cases. These cases were already in the pipeline and the dissenting justice knew them in detail. All the justices knew about these other cases when they ruled on DOMA a year ago which is why so many were hopeful that a full constitutional ruling on same sex marriage bans would have been made at the time instead of the narrow DOMA and California Prop 8 rulings that were made.

So why did the Supreme Court make a mess creating an avalanche of confusion this time around by refusing to hear nine different cases everybody was sure were going to be heard by the Supreme Court? Were the Justices being scholarly and all judge like? Did the justices lack the stomach or political will by not picking a case to make a ruling that settle things once and for all? I sure thought the latter was an accurate picture to paint.

After some thought, it is more like the justices were deferring to already settled opinions for which the Supreme Court could not muster five justices to overturn some 39 federal judges. Justices resolve conflicts in these types of constitutional cases. There wasn’t even an hint of conflict.

These 39 federal judges (and counting) had already done the work for the Supreme Court. They weighed the arguments and repeatedly came to a single conclusion. The states have yet to present a cohesive, defendable, logical, reasonable and justifiable cause to discriminate. States where thereby inflicting constitutional harms to same sex couples without cause and due process. Few, if any, constitutional topics have been argued in front of so many judges, which resulted in the exact same result. The ban on same sex marriage is discrimination and the states have not produced any creditable evidence that a ban is anything more purposeful than discrimination.

How could so many judges get it wrong especially considering no topic has been argued more than this one? How can the Supreme Court overrule so many different courts and judges without bringing the entire judicial process to the brink of disaster by way of no confidence? They didn’t and the Supreme Court can’t. They did their jobs as it was meant to be done.

I suspect the justices knew exactly how this was going to play out. After all, it had been barely 15 months since the DOMA ruling. This is just a brief movement in judicial timescales. Hardly a lunch break between rulings.

The problem is that two different district courts have yet to rule. One district is on its way to make a ruling. Nebraska is in the other. Nebraska’s first case was rejected years ago. Its latest case was thrown out on technicalities. It will be many years before another case can be heard. Under the current chaos, Nebraska may well be one of the last three states that will permit same sex marriages. This is not unusual though. Nebraska was the last state to make it legal to speak German and even then it took the Supreme Court to final step in and say something.

A Very Tough Year Later

It has been nearly a year - a very tough year for all of us especially me. Dad died two months ago after a long downhill slide. His MDS turned into full Leukemia. Treatment options ran out, and an experimental chemo approach failed killing him. He lingered in the hospital for a month during which the doctors were either incompetent or knew he was not going to recover and couldn't tell us. Dad was either unconscious or reliving some past life for the last three weeks. It was imossible to communicate and we never got to say goodbye. Dad always thought there would be one more day. We did too.

This is all on top of the passing of my best friend Jay Lake just weeks before Dad. Nope – not a good year. It is time for a life reset.

It really has been 5 months?

Today is the first day I can remember in months that I did not have to be up early and rush somewhere. I just completed 147 hours at a company that grows by acquisition reminding me Renaissance Worldwide and has the same management style. Dad's house has been on the market for a three weeks although I still have some work to do on it. Looking back at LiveJournal, it appears I have several things to catch up on.  I blame Apple. I have been waiting months for the release of the new iPad mini so I can be better connected. They finally announce the mini but appears they are having manufacturing problems so they are unable to release it. The market analyst now say only one in ten will be able to purchase a new mini when it is released. Surface Pro - bigger, more weight, cost more but faster, more powerful and most importantly it is on the market - hmmm maybe.

Wedding Date

Today's events in the Supreme Court have me thinking. One of the core feelings and sense of loss that keep coming to my mind about not being able to be married is not the missing benefits, full inclusion or never having to find the right pronoun or explanation of my status. Yes these are important but not as important as what seems to be trivial at first thought. It is the wedding date or the lack thereof that is missed. A date that is forever stamped in one’s life by marriage.

Now that I am older, I realize that dates are very important to who we are. Dates define the watershed moments where life changed. It is hour historical tipping-point. I have my Dad's wedding ring. His wedding date is inscribed on the inside. I always wondered why. It couldn't have been an anniversary reminder for him. He would have to take it off and squint his eyes to see read it. What was the point? Today, I think I realize it was never about him remembering his anniversary. It was about the date itself. Just like a name or place, the date has meaning. Important meaning.

My partner and I have several dates for our relationship. One is our first date. One is the day I finished remodeling a second bathroom and moved into his house. And, there is a third date that I can just never seem to remember. In all, a Star Trek movie release date just doesn't substitute for wedding date. When we first met, there was no thought or hope of a wedding date. there is a real possibility.

On this thought, maybe learning names in dates in history class does have a point – even a very personal point.

Here's a date:
Today is the tipping-point for gay rights – our rights. We can definitively say we have reached the point of no return. For the kids, it really does get better and 6/26/2013 is proof.

Supreme Court DOMA Ruling

I was on a conference at the time and could not go down the break area to watch the news.  I was able to bring up the opinion the instant it was filed online which was just as the ruling was announced in the courtroom.  I was in tears within seconds of the PDF displaying the opinion. I had to the reread the main points a couple of times to make sure I read it right. As opinions go, this was actually short. I texted my partner “DOMA is dead.”

As I expected, some of the Justices did not like ruling on the DOMA case and may have wished it was not before the court. Eight of the nine justices believe the DOMA case should have never been heard in the first place on the grounds of improper standing. I predicted six to seven justices on the grounds of states' rights.  The lower court said DOMA was unconstitutional and the executive branch agreed: then why are we doing here? Justice Scalia mused. Although the majority (five to four) ruled against DOMA, eight of the nine of the justices would have thrown out the case on technical grounds. This would have the same outcome. The media called the ruling close by a deeply divided court. DOMA was dead in all of the outcomes expressed by the justices except one.

What surprised me was the level of contempt five of the justices had for the purpose of DOMA in the first place. Their level of disdain and the harm caused by DOMA was so great they agreed to rule on the merits and not throw it out on technical grounds. This clearly pissed off three of the dissenting justices.

In summary: DOMA operates to deprive same sex couples of benefits and to impose a disadvantage, a separate status and stigma upon those who lawfully enter into legal marriages. DOMA’s own text demonstrated that it interfered with the equal dignity conferred by the States and congress enacted this law with both disapproval of homosexuality and moral conviction that heterosexuals are better than gays. The justices go on to say how the defenders of DOMA (BLAG) acknowledge that same-sex marriage does not harm traditional marriages and that the State of New York has the right to provide equal treatment of gays and DOMA is design to frustrate these very same  states rights. The bottom line is DOMA serves to demean same sex couples and humiliates their children.

Court opinions don't get any stronger than this.

Ruling the case on merits may have upset the justices in the minority because it forced them to also offer dissent on the merits which I clearly think they would rather not have done. It put them into the position of defending their opinion that it is okay for a democratic government to discriminate and restrict the rights of a minority without cause.

In the end, as one dissenting justice put it, wait and listen for the second shoe. The court majority is telling us DOMA laws will not stand. Let the new discrimination cases begin!