Showing posts from January, 2014

TV Woes, Part 2

An additional issue we were having with our entertainment center was that our Series 2 Dual-Tuner TiVo was not receiving the remote signal consistently. Sometimes it would work okay, but most of the time it was taking multiple presses to get the signal to the TiVo and, sometimes, it would go through long stretches where it wouldn't accept the signal at all.

This came to a head recently as well. It got to the point where we could barely control our TiVo at all. Once again, I turned to the Interwebs for information to see if others were having this issue.

It turns out that modern LCD/LED TVs have a function called "backlighting." This feature can send out a strong enough signal that it can override your remote's IR signal, effectively blocking it from reaching the IR sensor on the TiVo (or, perhaps, other devices). The backlighting feature is used to make the screen brighter and the colors sharper. It has different settings depending on the way you are using it (for ex…

TV Woes, Part 1

A few years ago we bought a Samsung LN46C630 TV. We love it. It is a nice size (although my wife now admits we could go bigger), a quality-name product, and has a very nice, clear picture. Recently, however, the picture started suffering from a problem: it flickered. By "flicker" I mean that the entire picture would start strobing brighter and darker rapidly while never actually losing the picture. This strobe effect would sometimes turn off when a new signal was received, like the station going into or out of a commercial break, or when a DVD would move to a new chapter, etc., and would occasionally fade or stop on its own.

It was getting worse, though. When it first started, it was only our main (Component 1) input that was affected. If we switched to any other input, the flickering would stop and we would be left in peace. However, over the last few months, switching inputs stopped working to resolve the issue. We were at the mercy of some sort of signal change. Then the …


Through some of the biggest growth and success of America, the wealthiest were taxed at what would be considered Draconian amounts today. Shortly after World War 2, the government taxed the wealthy around 90% of their income. Yes, 90%. This lasted through the 1960s. In the 1970s, we lowered the tax rates to around 70% and in the 1980s, Reagan lowered them to 50% and then down to about 30%. In the 1990s, during the last economic crisis, the tax rates were raised to around 40%. Now they are back to round 35% or so.

The problem, as always, is where is the money? By that I mean, who has the money? The federal government can only get taxes from people who can pay taxes. During the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government taxed the hell out of the upper classes because they were the ones with the money. This allowed the government to afford all the for-work projects it created to get the huge influx of people injected into the workforce as the men came home from war and the women did not wan…

Give the Devil His Due

Sometimes, something just strikes you. I don't claim this is original thought, it is just original to me and one that came to me a few days ago like the proverbial light bulb turning on.
If you follow the Christian mythology, God created all things. However, He only gave free will to Man. The Devil is a fallen Angel, who "rebelled" against God and his favoring of Man above all His other creations. But Angels do not have free will and cannot do anything other than God's will. Therefore, Lucifer, the Morningstar and first among Angels, must have been commanded by God to rebel. It is part of God's plan that the Devil exists. It also means that the strife and discord that the fallen Angel brings is on purpose and according to God's plan. What does this mean for Christians today? Well, knowing that it is part of God's will that there be a Devil, and all the discord that he sows, might change how Christians view the bad things that happen in life. It means that…


Normally, it takes a TV show multiple episodes before it completely goes off the rails and re-interprets or ignores characterizations of its own characters. Not Helix, the new SyFy channel TV show about a potential plague and the CDC's attempts to halt it.

The show had a stellar pilot episode. The sets were well-made and interesting, the characters were broadly written but well-defined, the story was interesting and engaging, and the actors were adept. My only quibble was the small amount of melodrama inserted from the beginning -- the fact that Julia had slept with Peter while married to Alan. I loved how the show used very little music, outside of "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?". The direction was competent. I was thinking that this might be a nice, new addition to my TV watching.

And then I watched episode two.

The premise of Helix is that a secret base full of scientists working on groundbreaking and cutting-edge research in the Arctic concoct a deadly pathogen th…