Sunday, May 1, 2011

Political Ramblings: Bin Laden is Dead, Rich Folks Pay 35% Less In Taxes Than They Did Twenty Years ago

How strange is it that the United States government is helping the common folk of Middle Eastern countries stand up against their governments?  In this country, in the last 5 years, our government has robbed from its poor to prop up the rich.  Our working people have had their 401k funds destroyed, their mortgages foreclosed on while the mortgage holders are spending billions in bonuses.  Did our government send military to Wisconsin to make sure that the people were heard as they lobbied their state government to do what was in their interest?
Tonight Osama Bin Laden is apparently dead.  We will hear in the coming days how this is a victory.  A victory that has been paid for with the lives of thousands of Americans, at the expense of tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and at the expense of our American tax dollars in the hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars.  Yes, GW Bush will be heard from and will be lauded.  Yes, we should all be glad that this despicable man is no longer counted among the living.  We will all fear also the backlash of the faceless Al Qaeda and we will surely see radical Muslim's mourning the death of this Bin Laden. 
Myself, I feel numb.   It's almost ten years since the twin towers fell.  In those ten years our country has fallen in stature.  While 10 percent of our neighbors are unemployed the Dow Jones Industrial average continues to grow.  While the bankers tore our economy apart they've all been bailed out.  While the middle class has shrunken and the lower middle class of our country is sliding toward the poverty level, the richest parts of our country are still doing well. 
I read recently that the top 400 earners in America pay only 17% in income tax.  (  A friend of mine who earned less than 100k last year but more than 90k paid over 18% of his adjusted gross in taxes last year.  Further, that 17% in 2010 is down 9 percentage points since 1992.  That's a 35% decrease in taxes paid by our country’s richest individuals.  These people average $345,000,000 in yearly income.  In fairness, the average Americans taxes have also reduced from 9.9% to 9.3% over that same span.  Joe average has had his taxes reduced 6.06% over the same span where Joe Moneybags had his taxes cut 35%.  I guess that's fair.  NOT!!
As we all feel so patriotic this week, as we cheer on the republicans as they try to save our country money by closing down such federal programs as Planned Parenthood and as they cut funding for Public Broadcasting; as the funding for public transportation and education has trickled, we can all feel good knowing that the government has done a good job of two things.  1) We killed Bin Laden, and 2) we've saved the country’s richest individuals 35% of their tax burden.  Keep your eyes open America, it will continue.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

PC Mag reports best free software of 2011

Each year PC Mag puts together a list of the best free software available.  It’s an article that I bookmark every year because you never know when you might be looking for a specialized piece of software. Also I like to see how PC Mag rates software that I use.,2817,2381528,00.asp


Thursday, March 17, 2011

NCAA Tournament 2011


March Madness is in full swing.  I thought I’d post my Bracket and share it with the Millions, and Millions of loyal followers of this blog.  My hometown Pitt panthers were awarded a #1 seed but I’m only picking them to make the Sweet 16.  They’re on tv right now and winning by 8 against UNC Asheville.  I am hoping they surprise me and make a long run, but I don’t think they have the personnel to make it to the final four.  Good luck to everyone, hope you all win your office pool.  Click on the image and you’ll open a larger image.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Planets, and Sun, Compared

8109363Tonight on the Science Channel I’m watching a TV show called “Wonders of the Solar System”. The host is a physics professor named Brian Cox.  I’m fascinated by the topic and I’m drawn to Mr. Cox’s enthusiasm.  Early in the show he showed us a simple science experiment involving a tin can, water, a thermometer and an umbrella.  This experiment shows you that the sun emits roughly a kilowatt of energy upon each square meter of the earth. He then explains that this information can lead to a rational guess at how much energy the sun provides.  He says 400 Million Million Million watts of power. 
As the show progresses he explains that with all the moons that exist in our solar system; Earth is the only one that can experience a solar eclipse. That’s because the sun is 400 times larger than our moon, and also, the sun is 400 times further away from Earth than our moon. 
The previous episode of this show Brian spent a great deal of time discussing the moons and rings of Saturn.  Naming the moons, like Titan as he tells the story of their involvement with Saturn’s rings. Perhaps the thought has hit you before, what is the name of our moon.  So, I go to Google and try to find an answer.  After looking at a few different sites I decided to go to  From there I found this excerpt by Dr. Eric Christian that can be found here:
“The Moon was called Selene or Artemis by the Greeks and Luna by the Romans. I'm sure other cultures also had names for the Moon. But in English, Moon (from Mona and Moone in Old and Middle English) was used before anyone had any idea that the other planets had moons. So it was more a case that the specific name for the Moon was extended to mean small bodies revolving around planets elsewhere. The Moon's name is the Moon.”
By now, my mind has begun to wander and I recall something I was told years ago about the relative size of the sun, and solar system.  If you’re from Pittsburgh you’ll understand this more readily….
If the sun were a 2 story tall yellow ball standing at the base of the Cathedral of Learning (University of Pittsburgh) the earth would be the size of a basketball at center ice of the Mellon Arena (1.93 miles away or 3.11 Km).  The Moon would be the size of a softball resting on the blue line.  The nearest star (Proxima Centauri) would be sitting on top of the moon.  With that story in mind I started googling and I came upon this site.  I really think you ought to SolarSystemcheck this site out. It’s filled with great photos like this one that shows  the relative sizes of planets, then suns that are out there in the universe.  I had no idea how much larger the largest suns were when compared with our own.
I really recommend you take a look. (here).  There’s another picture that shows our sun compared to Sirius, Pollux and Arcturus, three larger suns. 
One last interesting tidbit I learned today.  On Venus, a year is actually less than a day.  If I remember correctly, it takes 260 earth days for Venus to circle the Sun while it takes 280 days for Venus to rotate. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Problem with Inception


inception_movie_poster_01I liked the movie Inception very much. I am glad that it's winning Oscars tonight.  It was a great trip to the movie theater, I was drawn into the story and my attention was held throughout.  The movie was fantastic except for the last 15 seconds.

You see, I went to this movie knowing that the idea behind the movie was very complex. I was told to pay close attention to details and that no matter how closely you watch you're going to miss some things that will give you reason to go see it again. 

No doubt, it was a rather confusing storyline.  The man that wrote the screenplay must be amazing with a Rubik's Cube.  I have watched the movie again and I have noticed many things I missed.  That being said, I didn't have to watch this movie twice to be totally abused by the writers. 

After wading through two hours of story; and after getting immersed in Dicaprio's character and wanting him to be reunited with his children.  This movie did what so many others have done before.  They simply leave you to wonder if the ending is a part of "real life" or just another dream that Leo is trapped in.

A part of me appreciates this tactic from the writer.  Yet still, after 2 hours being involved in this story, ending it with a cliffhanger has me feeling very "Unsatisfied".  This movie was great without the cliffhanger at the end. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New song by Megan Joy

This Just In
My friends know that I’m a fan of American Idol.  Megan Joy, who was on the show in season 8 (Kris Allen won that year). Megan is a sweet, pretty girl that finished somewhere around 8th.  She has an interesting voice, difficult to pigeonhole.  I’d like to share Megan’s new song with the millions, … and millions of readers of my blog.  Please, pass this link along to your friends. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dear Pittsburgh Steelers, THANK YOU

Late tonight I checked Twitter and saw that James Harrison had left a single word tweet "sorry".  This made me feel so bad for him and his teammates.  It's evident that they feel great responsibility to fulfill the hopes of their fans. Immediately I replied to James letting him know how proud I am of him and his team and how thankful I am for the great season they've given us, their fans.  After that, I thought that there's other messages I'd like to pass on to members of the Steelers team. I don't have all of their Twitter names, and even further, my messages are something I'd like my friends, and the general public to hear.  These men did their best, they took pride in their performance and are committed to giving their fans their best week in and week out.  While they were not successful in achieving their goal of winning this Super Bowl, they were as far from a failure as they could possibly be. I love following this team and it's players and I'm proud to be a Pittsburgh Native and a Steeler fan. 
What follows are messages I'd like to send along to several steeler players. 
Mike Tomlin.
You remind me of Chuck Noll.  You do a great job motivating your players and bring dignity and respect to all Steeler fans.  You give us 100% with humility, pride and distinction.  We're lucky to have you and you've created a spot in the heart of that thing known as "Steelers Nation".  My heart aches for you that Lady Luck wasn't with you on the field Super Sunday.  Great play and great coaching, over time, beat out lucky bounces and fateful throws. 
I'm proud to support a team that is led by you.
While I am unable to overlook the actions of last off season, your play was spectacular this season and it's strange that in a year where your Interception percentage was it's lowest of your career that lady luck left you with two INTs.  Please keep in mind the promises you've made and if you can stay true to the man you've promised to be, successes in your future will surely be plentiful.
I hope you're not too hard on yourself about the fumble.  You're contributions to this team clearly outweigh one mishap. Congratulations, you're a veteran NFL Running Back. You know what a great accomplishment that is.  We're proud of you.
Watching you and the way you give so much of yourself to our city every week makes all of us proud to be what we are. Steeler fans.  Thank you
James H. #92
Your fire and determination is a great example for the young men who follow you.  Please let go of your anger over the NFL fines.  You are so good that you can excel under any rules that they create. This team would not be what it is without you.
James F. #51
As our leader, you are such a huge part of our teams success. I hope you are with us again on the field next year.  If not, if you should choose to retire, you'll be with us forever in our hearts.
That was not an easy kick.  I can't imagine a 52 yd field goal try straight down the pike. I hope you're back with us next year and we find many successful tries.
Jeff... and the whole offensive line.
When Maurkice went down you showed such a great effort and stood in expertly.  You should be proud.  O-Line. You did a great job protecting Ben.  Things are going to be even better from here.
Tonight, again, you carried yourself like a champion.  Your contributions to this team can never be adequately acknowledged. Thank you for fighting so hard to bring acclaim to our team and city.  I hope you're back next year to lead our team to more success. 
Mr. Lebeau
First and foremost.  Thank you.  For everything.  Please return and lead our defense, and team, to even more success. This team would not be the same without you.  There's young Steelers and new Steelers coming that need your coaching.  The Steelers way, something we're all so proud of, includes, and depends on, a healthy dose of Lebeau coaching. 
Willie, Ryan, Bryant, and the DBacks
Hold your head up high.  You are one of ours.
Casey, Brett, Ziggy
More successes are right around the corner.  Shake this off, nothing but pride from us fans for what you give us week in and week out.
You know, media paints the picture that they want everyone to see.  NFL network, and to a lesser degree, ESPN is putting Green Bay up on a pedestal.  This game, with the Steelers turning the ball over three times, was so very close, in all honesty, with the turnovers, the Pack should have ran away with it. With two minutes to go the Steelers could still win. That is a testament to how great our Steelers are.  There's a reason that this game is said to be a game of inches.  The Packers are a fantastic team, so are the Steelers.  The level of excellence of my team is inspirational. 
I’ll take a moment to remind the Steelers Bashers that there is no NFL team with more playoff wins than the Steelers, no team has won more Super Bowls, and no team, since the merger in 1970, has won more divisional titles, nor has any team played in more Conference Championship. While this year, the Steelers championship total failed to grow, their Legacy, certainly has. 
In closing, I’m reminded of the words of Steelers great, Hall Of Famer, Jack Lambert. Here’s what he had to say as he closed his HOF acceptance speech , right before a personal message for his family.  
“I was so fortunate to have played on some of the greatest teams of all time and arguably the greatest defense ever assembled. And finally, how fortunate I was to play for the Pittsburgh fans... a proud and hard-working people who love their football and their players. If I could start my life all over again, I would be a professional football player, and you damn well better believe I would be a Pittsburgh Steeler!”

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Johnny D’s Super Bowl XLV Post

 superbowlxlv It seems standard practice for people attempting to break down this game to address each offense vs. each defense and to compare the two QBs almost as if they’re opposing each other in a game of chess.  Here’s my take on this Super Bowl Matchup. 
Steelers Offense VS. Packers Defense

The Steelers entered this season with eyes on the O-line as being a weakness.  The O-line was hurt in the AFC Conference Championship when Pro Bowl Center Maurkice Pouncey suffered an ankle injury that would later knock him out of the Super Bowl.  Clay Matthews and the rest of Dom Capers zone blitzing defense will be very active and attacking Ben in well disguised schemes. Something not mentioned often is Rashard Mendenhall’s ability to grind away at a defense and the frequency with which he’s been breaking off long gains.  The Packer’s pro bowl defensive backfield has been mentioned often as being a problem for the Steelers receiving corps.  I'm not sure if people realize that the Steelers corps, while young, is battle tested. They just took on, and beat, the Ravens and Jets defenses. Both teams have acclaimed defenses. Has anyone heard of Ed Reed, or Darrell Revis?  Ward, Brown, Sanders, Randle El, and Miller are certainly up to the challenge in taking on GB. 
Edge:  could go either way. 
Aaron Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger

This, again is too close to call.  If we were to play 7 games there might be some way to determine which is better.  They will be playing one game, for a championship. In the end the determining factor, for both, will be which QB/Offense makes fewer mistakes.  Mistakes is a code word for turnovers. I heard a statistic this week, in the history of the Super Bowl, the team that wins the turnover battle is 32-3, that’s amazing.  As good as both QBs and their offenses are, the defenses are similarly accomplished.  Watching the Steelers week to week I tend to dwell on #7s mistakes.  I'd say that Ben has had the shakier record in turnovers.  Similarly, the Steelers defense coaxes Interceptions and Fumbles from the league's best QBs. 
EDGE: Lady luck will play a large role in determining this one.
GB offense vs. PIT defense.
Aaron Rodgers is one of the leagues best QBs and his WR corps is recognized by many experts to be the single best group of Receivers in the league.  Dick Lebeau must find a way to overcome the Packs ability to spread his defense.  Watching what the Patriots' Brady did when spreading out the Steelers defense and throwing underneath leaves a fan a bit concerned.  There's two ways to see this. One: it's something that Lebeau will correct or two: Steelers personnel can not overcome the spread. 
Edge: Looks from the outside like the Pack has the advantage.
Intangibles: Everything I've written thus far was to get to this point.  Both teams have great personnel and both teams defenses pressure their opponent's offense to make mistakes and turnover the ball. 
The format that I've employed here is similar to everything that I've seen on the NFL television network as well as on ESPN this week.  In the end resolve, determination, preparation, and focus are among the strongest determinants of success in games like this.  In watching press conferences this week I'm most impressed by Mike Tomlin.  He seems very in touch with his team, and knows how to coax their best performances from them. 
Football is not Eleven one-on-one matchups. Football is a team sport.  Cohesion, when two teams are evenly matched, becomes a real entity.  The Steelers experience is not simply experience in going through the Super Bowl experience. The core of this team has been through some momentous battles.  They’ve found ways to beat better opponents and they’ve found ways to overcome great obstacles.  It is this element, Team cohesion, that I believe gives Pittsburgh the edge.  Don’t forget what they went through against Baltimore.  Two turnovers in the first half and a 21-7 deficit. They fought back and won. 

Edge: Tomlin and Steelers. 

There is not a circumstance under which I would not pick the Steelers, they are my favorite team and I will certainly pick them here.  What hits me is the fact that I am less anxious about this  game than I was about the Steelers two previous Super Bowl appearances. 
Prediction: Steelers 31 Packers 17

Monday, January 31, 2011

NFL Will Elect Hall Members February 5.

                                                   The NFL will meet and elect the next class of Hall of Famers on February 5.  I’ve been trying to influence those voters that are on Twitter (especially Peter King) for the last few weeks but they seem  to be impervious to my attempts to persuade. 
I will now list the 15 finalists.  I’d like to say that there were only two picks that I had that did not make it, Kevin Greene and Lester Hayes.  Neither of these two made my final eight or even my list of ten.  The two men that the voters have on the list that i don’t are Charles Haley, and Ed Sabol (NFL Films).  
Jerome BettisTim BrownCris Carter
Dermontti DawsonRichard DentChris Doleman
Marshall FaulkCharles HaleyCortez Kennedy
Curtis MartinAndre ReedWillie Roaf
Ed SabolDeion SandersShannon Sharpe
In my previous Post I wrote a lot about the individual accomplishments of each of the nominees. Please take a look at that blog.  For the purposes of analyzing these fiteen We must remove eight to get down to a list of seven.
Easiest first:
Ed SabolWhile I love what NFL Films has given to the sport of football over the last 40 plus years, I must remove Ed from this list. If there were a seperate ballot for contributors and administrators/owners (as I believe there should be) he’d certainly be a first ballot Hall of Famer.  But with the amount of talent we have here, Ed must be my first scratch.
Cortez Kennedy:  A fantastic career, sadly in my eyes, not quite HOF caliber.
Marshall Faulk: While I’m certainly a fan and appreciate the career that Marshall put together (he’s 10th on the all time rushing list with over 12,000 yds) he too is a victim of a stacked ballot.  We have Martin and Bettis on the same ballot. 
Shannon Sharpe: The Muhammad Ali of trash talking in the NFL.  From high in 3 Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh one could hear Shannon try to get under the skin of opposing defenses.  For me Sharpe is the definition of a bubble boy in the NFL. At his position he distinguished himself.  As an all around football player, I think he’s outside of the top ten of this ballot.
Charles Haley:  He didn’t make my top ten and since I put that list together he didn’t do anything in the playoffs to change my mind.

Andre Reed: I nice resume, a clutch receiver, not a hall of famer.
Chris Doleman: These last two cuts have me really wishing that the NFL would make the max number of entrants a bit larger, at least for a few years.  As it is, I have to cut two more and Doleman is a victim of the numbers.
Richard Dent: It’s hard to leave a Super Bowl Champion out and put in some players that were not SB Champs.  But that’s what I’m going to do. In the end, I simply believe that guys like Roaf and Dawson  were better at their position that Dent was at his.  
Here’s my seven.
Jerome BettisTim Brown
Cris CarterDermontti Dawson
Curtis MartinWillie Roaf
Deion Sanders
Best of luck to all of the nominees.  Regardless, the Hall Of Fame has a great class of 2011 coming.