Hello and welcome to 'off on a tangent', my entire life in the form of a website. I'm Scott Bradford, and I've been building up this website bit-by-bit since 1995. Pretty much everything there is to know about me is somewhere on this site, as well as a number of my artistic expressions. So give it a look, you're sure to find at least one thing that you like! Please leave me a comment or an email to send me any kind of feedback--positive or negative--so that I can keep improving in my writing, my art, and my website.
Today, the first day of April, I got out of class a little early and decided to go through some job listings and check my email.
The only interesting job listing I found was a new position with Google.com. They're looking for engineers to work at their new Lunar hosting and research center. (Read about that here). I've been interested in positions off-planet, but until we have regular passenger traffic between here and Luna (that's the moon) I think it might be a little inconvenient.
I mean, I'm already asking people to drive up from SoVa for the wedding next year, it might be a little cumbersome to get everybody up to the Google facility on Luna.
Regardless, the point became relatively moot when I checked my email! I had two messages (aside all the spam and such). The first was from a lawyer at Microsoft, who was asking me to cease and desist from the new Website 15.0!!! design (apparently Microsoft holds a trademark on "tacky" and "ugly" and "moving" when used together, and he said that the red coloring is too similar to the default theme in the next version of Windows). He ordered me to revert to previous designs or develop a new one within the next 24 hours.
But then, I got a second email -- this one from somebody in Microsoft's HR department. Apparently somebody higher-up liked my new website design, and after poking through the site they thought I might be a good fit for a new position in their Marketing and Public Relations department.
You see, somebody read my rant about version numbers (Rant Version VK 4.0 2004) and thought I'd be perfect to develop and explain new names for Windows operating systems in the future. They thought I'd be good for the position in part because of the rant, and in part because my site design proves I'm obviously in-tune with Microsoft's "tacky, ugly, and moving" motif.
I'm happy to say that I accepted the position! I was little concerned at first, being a Mac user and all, but the HR rep. on the phone let me in on a little secret -- the programmers at Microsoft are the only ones that use Windows. The rest of the company runs either Linux or Mac OS, but they've themed them all to LOOK like Windows so the programmers won't get all offended and all. "Come on," she told me, "we actually have to get work done. We can't use that crap put out in the programming division."
So I'll be starting at Microsoft in May. I'm wondering what you all think about the next version of Windows. The code name is "Longhorn," so I'm thinking we should call it "Microsoft Windows LH 2006." What do you think? Any other ideas?
Anyway, I've got to go -- this will probably be my last entry on the first day of April, I'll probably write some more tomorrow.
Apple logo found on Mars (MacWorld UK).
Today, the first day of April, European Space Agency scientists were flabbergasted to discover a formation of mountains and craters on Mars that resembles an Apple logo.
Pretty bizarre if you ask me -- has Apple figured out some way to advertise in space, or is this seriously just a random formation? ;-)
Today, the first day of April, I am very happy to announce the release of the fifteenth version of my website!
Here are some of the great improvements in the new site:
First, I got rid of that tacky header graphic and replaced it with a great new header! It's blue and not anti-aliased, so the text has a new-age jagged look that's really pleasing to the eye. I also included spinny things and a "welcome to my homepage" ticker. Oh yeah!
Second, as the new header reflects, I'm going back to using version numbers for the name. Rather than the annoying "Off on a Tangent" title, I'm going with "Website 15.0!!!"
Third, I changed the color and font schemes. I decided to go with a really flashy red color, which really brings out the blueness in the Website 15.0!!! logo. I changed the text to browser defaults (usually Times New Roman). I got rid of all that new-age CSS crap, so all the text on the site should be the same size whether it's supposed to be a header or whatever else.
I think these upgrades really give my site a great, new look. Let me know what you all think!
visit the full life & news blog page to read past entries.
What we know today as the Pledge of Allegiance was originally written in 1892 by Rev. Francis Bellamy. That's right, that's a Reverend in front of his name. Bellamy was a Baptist minister who wanted to come up with a pledge that could be recited by American school children on the quadricentennial celebration of Columbus Day.
The original text read as follows: I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
Notice anything missing?
Well there have been a couple of changes over the 100-plus years since the Pledge was originally composed. In 1923, after the Pledge of Allegiance had become a staple in America's public schools, the first National Flag Conference took up an issue: New immigrants to the U.S. might be confused about what "my Flag" meant.
So "my Flag" was changed at that 1923 conference to "the Flag of the United States," and that was amended again the next year to read "the Flag of the United States of America." The pledge remained unofficial at this point, and it wasn't sanctioned by the government until the United States Flag Code (Title 36) which was passed in 1942. The very next year, the United States Supreme Court ruled that students in public schools could not be forced to recite the pledge.
But do you still notice anything missing?
Two words that are a part of the familiar Pledge of Allegiance didn't make it in there until June of 1954. It was the early days of the Cold War, and the United States government thought it would be a good idea to differentiate ourselves from the "Godless Communists" (whatever) by adding two precious words that Rev. Bellamy didn't think were necessary -- "under God."
I bring this up because the United States Supreme Court is again being asked to deal with the Pledge of Allegiance. You can read some of the details from CNN.com, but -- in short -- an atheist brought charges against his daughter's school for having a recitation of the Pledge every morning.
Now, to be honest, I think this guy is full of crap. His daughter is not required to recite the Pledge (and children haven't been since 1943), and she is not irreparably harmed by having a bunch of her classmates say "under God" in the midst of a patriotic statement every morning.
I, frankly, don't think that this issue is any of the Supreme Court's business. Two words -- "under God" -- are not a prayer, especially in the context of the clearly non-prayerful Pledge of Allegiance. Those words, the government's sanction of them, or the recitation of them in classrooms is most definitely not a violation of the separation of church and state. It is not a "law respecting an establishment of religion," nor does it prohibit "the free exercise thereof" (that's from the First Amendment, by the way).
But before all of my liberal friends, enemies, and other readers jump down my throat with their beliefs that "God" has no place in public life, I must confess -- I don't think that "under God" belongs in the Pledge of Allegiance. It serves no purpose, except to be divisive. I support its removal.
Further, I think that "In God We Trust" should be removed from our currency, and the Supreme Court itself should quit starting each of its sessions with "God save the United States and this honorable Court" (yes, they do that, look it up).
I just don't think the Supreme Court has legal authority to prohibit these things on constitutional grounds. They might not be right, they might be divisive and pointless, but they are not unconstitutional.
One of the most bizarre things about this case is that the conservative groups that want "under God" to stay, in their own arguments, actually support my opinion.
"How so?" you ask. Well, the liberal groups who want "under God" gone make the argument that those two words are a prayer and thereby are offensive and unfair to those who do not believe in God. In response, conservatives say that "under God" is not a prayer -- in fact, they say, it has no religious meaning at all.
So why are conservatives fighting to keep "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, when they concede in their own arguments that the words are effectively meaningless? What's all the hubbub about? Liberals say it's offensive, conservatives say it's non-religious and meaningless, so I think we can all agree that "under God" has no place in the government-sanctioned Pledge of Allegiance -- or, at least, that it's no big deal.
I'll tell you why. Regardless of what arguments they make in public discourse and in the Supreme Court, those who want "under God" to stay feel that way because they want the government to bolster their personal beliefs in God.
I, for one, don't need the government's help to know that this country is "under God." I believe quite firmly that it is, but I don't think the government should make the assumption -- as it did in 1954 -- that everybody agrees with me. Many Americans today do not believe in God, or they believe in a different God than the Christian God that the Pledge clearly refers to.
Today's Pledge of Allegiance is not unconstitutional, but on some level it is -- indeed -- unfair. It excludes people, albeit in a minor way, because atheists and other non-believers cannot recite the entire Pledge. It doesn't violate their civil rights, it doesn't prevent them from being successful, and it isn't worth crying or suing about -- but it is wrong.
It's a wrong that Congress and the President have the responsibility to set right, not the Supreme Court.
The Reverend who originally wrote the Pledge intended it to be an affirmation of allegiance to the United States that all citizens could happily recite in-full. It's time that we return the Pledge to that wonderful purpose, and again make it into something that every citizen of the United States can say proudly from beginning to end.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
Now that wasn't so bad.
visit the front page rant page to read past rants.