Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blind Core goes to Turkey

I wish to bring this effort to your attention and request you consider making a donation to their work. As a person who loves to travel I always marvel at how interesting other countries are- yet at the end of every trip I say there is no better place in the world to be a blind person then North America.

Dear Friend,
It’s winter! You just can’t get around, at least if you’re anywhere like Omaha, Nebraska. We have had 2 blizzards in the last 3 weeks. Transportation, at times has been nearly impossible, schools and businesses have been closed. This has been some of the foulest weather in this region for years, with freezing rain, wind, ice, snow, and no sign of this pattern letting up. With the low temps and piles and piles of snow everywhere, most of us are being very selective in where we choose when traveling away from our homes. Yet people have the choice. Imagine if you had no such choice. Or what if your choices were just as limited, round the clock, day long, week in and out, month after month, life-long? What would that be like?
It would be like the lives of blind people in developing nations, with no hope of receiving the basic training they need to live full independent lives. But this kind of training is available in the U. S. A. every single day. Now, the veteran rehabilitation professionals of non-profit Blind Corps provide this kind of U. S.-developed training to blind people and their teachers where it has never been provided before.
You can help to thaw the ice and make it possible for blind persons of developing nations, struggling to be free and equal, to achieve their dreams of independence. For the cost of a $10 Braille slate, a $25 white cane, a $50 Braille watch, or the donation of used but serviceable equipment or technology you can make a difference.
On May 25, 2010 our team of eight, including myself, will be leaving for Istanbul for our third Blind Corps mission. We’ll be providing training to teachers from the 16 schools for the blind scattered across Turkey, as well as direct contact with individual blind persons. If you’d like to join us, as well as the Turkish Ministry of Education, the City of Istanbul, and Bey Az Ay, the leading non-profit organization of the blind in Turkey in supporting this project, please contact me directly or donate securely online with the Paypal link below.
All of us of the Blind Corps team appreciate your consideration and generosity.

Yours respectfully,
Robert Leslie Newman, Board Member, Blind Corps

(To use Paypal, please click or paste):

BLIND CORPS, since November 2005, an IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt Corporation

Robert Leslie Newman

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Government Motors and Tarp

The article above speaks about GM paying back its loans to the government way before it needs to- and yet, the objective observers say it seems insanely obtimistic to believe that the tax payers will get properly paid back. This just goes to show you that although government has its perks, when it tries to be a business it totally fails. Do we really want the people who can't manage to handle a simple bankruptcy to run everyone's health care?

The Laviathan grows- here's voting for more sushi!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Braille Readers Are Leaders

I have joined the Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest and will begin my reading today. I hope to have read at least 150 pages by the end of the contest. If you are interested in forming a team with me please E mail me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Who Says American Frugality is Dead?

As I study more about personal finance I am constantly looking for additional means to improve my financial fitness. I have found that throughout a good chunck of American history our forefathers (and mothers) were extremely frugal people. Little or no debt, personal responsability, and SAVE! I had thought that with the 70s this great American trate had died, but this puts that thought to rest.

Back to the GOP

For those unaware last November with my extreme vexation with then President Bush chucking his free market principles under the bus and the GOP in general becoming standard want-to-be Dems I decided to join the Libertarian Party.

As of yesterday I have rejoined the GOP, though as a Libertarian Republican. If you click on the link and look at the philosophers who have inspired Libertarian Republicans you will be reading the list of those authors who have a profound impact on my political thinking of late. I particularly recommend Hayek, Rand, and Mill.

I have also been posting political articles of interest via Twitter. If I find anything interesting I tend to tweet it, though since this blog and my Twitter feed are linked to my Facebook page I tend to like to keep my traffic to a fairly small volume. I hope you will find them interesting, and if this is nothing more then my personal echo chamber I will have an excellent archive of political articles I have enjoyed.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Financial Armor and the Battle Plan

I recently read this post providing a public method of keeping oneself on task with one's finances. I began to do this last month, and wish to continue. Since the finances have cleared up a bit I figure why not continue?

The discription in Ephesians 6:10-18 is one of my favorites in the entire Bible. This post subsequently had a great impact on me; thus, the title of my public records- the battle plan.


The ever present foe. *Much* work has been done on this front this past month or so.

Car loan: $0.00- Blown out of the sky- and there was much rejoicing.

Credit Cards: $0.00- Paid off and plan to keep it that way.

Primary mortgage on Colorado: $137,600 (5.1% variable capped at 5.9%).

Chipping away at this beast. Thinking about re-fiing, but not sure the 5.9% cap can be beat in today's climate. The fixed nature of the following loan would be helpful, but not sure it's worth it particularly if I sell in the next two or three years. Regardless knocking this one out of the park is solidly on the to-do list.

Second on Colorado: $28,900 (6.5% fixed)

Lumping this baby with el grande would be useful but again not sure the costs of closing the deal and probable subsequent intrest rise would be worth it. Top priority if re-fi doesn't happen for long term debt elimination.

Student Loans: $30,000- Since Sueanne is probably going to teach she will have to opportunity to have these paid off. If not they will become #1 target on the debt elimination list.


*- Have $12,500 in the bank as an emergancy fund.

So everyone knows an emergancy fund means no touchy unless there is a missing limb or blood. The latest Braille display, offering from Apple, or the "need" for a meal out does not count as a reason to use this fund. We basically have this fund and totally leave it alone. If we do use it we then funnel funds right back into it to raise it to the proper level.

Statis: Long way to go on this one. Only $1,600 in the bank as of now, but will work on it.

*- $5,000 in I Bonds.

Although the rate on I Bonds isn't great at this point I am extremely concerned about inflation in the long term. Plus every dollar in an I Bond isn't one I can easily get to. Thus it serves a duel purpose of protecting the funds from inflation and myself.

Statis: Long way on this as well. Currently only $200, but $50 is added every month and I am working on saving up additional funds to shovel into I Bonds in December.

*- $5,000 in Savings Bonds

A little less save then the I Bonds but still a great way of keeping my money from myself. Plus if these ever go bad I shall have far more to worry about then the loss of a few thousand dollars.

Statis: $100 as of now. Once I get the funds squirled away in I Bonds Savings Bonds are next on the list.

*- $10,000 in Municiple Bonds

Tax free (at least on the Federal level) and unable to be touched without great trouble. Seems like a winner to me.

Statis: $1,600 thus far. Adding $100 per month.

Well that's the start of the battle plan. Any thoughts are appreciated.

I follow with the iced coffee...

Thursday, September 10, 2009


My comemoration of that day. Let us never forget that liberty comes with a high price.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tough Money Love

Great thoughts here on loaning money to family members and here on lending to friends-- i.e. don't. Both of these posts come from Tough Money Love an excellent blog. While reading it I have been reminded of books I have enjoyed in the past on this topic including The Richest Man in Babylon, as well as new ones like The Total Money Makeover.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Economic Quote of the Week

244: From Jevons, Money and the Mechanism of Exchange, Chapter 2:

It is impossible, indeed, to decide exactly how much bread, or beef, or tea, or how many coats and hats a person needs. There is no precise limit to our desires, and we can only say, that as we have a larger supply of a substance, the urgency of our need for more is in some proportion weakened. A cup of water in the desert, or upon the field of battle, may save life, and become infinitely useful. Two or three pints per day for each person are needful for drinking and cooking purposes. A gallon or two per day are highly requisite for cleanliness; but we soon reach a point at which further supplies of water are of very minor importance. A modern town population is found to be satisfied with about twenty-five gallons per head per day for all purposes, and a further supply would possess little utility. Water, indeed, may be the reverse of useful, as in the case of a flood, or a damp house, or a wet mine.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Defence of Usury

239: From Bentham: Defence of Usury, Letters I-V:

Supposing any body, for the sake of extraordinary gain, to be willing to run the risk of supplying him, although they did not look upon his personal security to be equal to that of another man, and for the sake of the extraordinary profit to run the extraordinary risk; in the trader, in short in every sort of trader whom he was accustomed to deal with in his solvent days, he sees a person who may accept of any rate of profit, without the smallest danger from any laws that are, or can be made against usury. How idle, then, to think of stopping a man from making six, or seven, or eight per cent. interest, when, if he chuses to run a risk proportionable, he may in this way make thirty or forty per cent. or any rate you please. And as to the prodigal, if he cannot get what he wants upon these terms, what chance is there of his getting it upon any terms, supposing the laws against usury to be away? This then is another way, in which, instead of serving, it injures him, by narrowing his option, and driving him from a market which might have proved less disadvantageous, to a more disadvantageous one.

III.12 (paragraph number)

Outstanding point!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Having a very relaxed day today and thought I'd share the following.

I follow with the iced coffee...

229: From Newcomb: The ABC of Finance, Lessons I-VIII:

We frequently hear of the oppression of labor by capital, and of antagonism between these two agencies. In order to judge how much foundation there is for this notion, let us inquire what capital really is. It seems as if a large portion of the labor party look upon it as some kind of instrumentality wielded by the rich for the purpose of injuring or oppressing the poor. Really, however, capital consists simply of the accumulated wealth of the past—houses, machinery, railroads, engines, mills, and everything which in any way produces the things that we want. It is one of the most important parts of the social machine described in my last lesson. I might say, indeed, that it is the whole material part of that machine. The ships which bring flannel shirts across the ocean for you to wear in winter; the factories in which those shirts were made; the railways which transport them to your city; the warehouses in which they are stored until you are ready to buy them; the roof which covers your head, and all the machinery designed for the transportation and preservation of the food you eat, are capital. To complain of these when one is suffering for the comforts of life is as if a naked and hungry man should complain that food and clothing were his enemies. Diminish or injure this capital, and the power of everybody, the laborer included, to get clothes to wear, food to eat, and shelter from the weather, will be diminished.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Slates, Macs, and the end of Blind Boot Camp

I find it interesting that a slating bug seems to always inhabit the CCB causing all who come in contact with it to slate as much as possible. If this is not treated with moderate slating, the victim will eventually slate his fingers off in a single event of non stop slating. Regardless I am happy to have been biten, and only hope it will continue with me when I get home. I trust it will, and with my slating pals it should be easy enough.

I have also had the chance to play with a Mac and found it fairly enjoyable. I would not yet use VoiceOver as my primary screen reader, but am pleased with how it is coming along.

Blind Boot Camp ends soon. We send the troops packing on 8-8 (a day I am eagerly awaiting as I am *tired*), and we should be totally done by 8-13. Getting back to real life should be good. I am eager to find a job and start earning a real living. As I read the news and listen to the victim minded among us I feel more and more that the the Sword of Truth, Atlas Shrugged, The Road to Serfdom, and the Cato Institute should be read and viewed more regularly.

I follow with the iced coffee...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One only, catholic and apostolic church
In one sense the church is not divided and cannot be. Even
our outward divisions do not tear it asunder, since the one
Spirit indwells it. Piers in a harbour may divide it into
sections, so that boats are cut off from each other, but
the same sea flows and swells underneath. Our man-made
denominations also separate us outwardly and visibly, but
inwardly and invisibly the tide of the Spirit unites us.
The Nicene Creed characterizes the church as 'one, holy,
catholic and apostolic', which are the four classical
'marks' or 'notes' of the church. And they are true. The
church is both one and holy because the Holy Spirit has
united and sanctified it, setting it apart to belong to
God, even though in practice it is often disunited and
unholy. The church is also catholic (embracing all
believers and all truth) and apostolic (affirming the
teaching of the apostles and engaging in mission), even
though in practice it often denies the faith it should
profess and the mission it should pursue.

--From "Your Confirmation" (rev. edn. London: Hodder and
Stoughton, 1991), p. 83.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Good Thought

157: From Wicksteed, The Common Sense of Political Economy, Book I, Chapter 3:

In the first place we must know what we want, and must distinguish the presence of things themselves from a mere assurance or conventional indication that they are there. There are people who seem hardly to reckon with any direct perceptions or experiences of their own at all. They regulate their lives, and apparently even their feelings, by symbols and indices rather than facts. They are like the Professor who compared his map with the contour of the coast-line, and then declared himself satisfied as to the "perfect correctness"—of the coast-line. They cannot tell you whether they are feeling well, or whether they are in good spirits, unless they know whether the house in which the question is asked is built on clay or gravel, and how many feet it is above the level of the sea. They do not even eat what they like or what suits them, but things that have become to them symbols of festivity, languor, or of vigour, as the case may be. The extreme and all-embracing power of this disease specially besets men who pique themselves on their practical views of life, their robust common sense, and their preference for solid facts above mere phantoms. For money, as we shall see,*14 can never be more than the means (though it may be the necessary means) to happiness, and the man who habitually thinks of things under their pecuniary aspects becomes the slave to a symbol and will often sacrifice the thing symbolised to it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Couch Sefing, the Netbook, and SA To Go

Well here I am at day 5 since the move (amazing that we left Greeley almost a week ago), and survival goes very well. I should not like to couch serf regularly, but it should work well enough for a month. Keeping a lid on food costs has been a little tough, particularly with SA finishing off her work at university. We will however be doing our utmost to keep a handle on costs. I am very proud of the progress we have made on conforming our finances to God's way, and am eager to see that progress continue. I am sure that with God's help it will go well.

As for living out of my netbook I must admit things have gone surprisingly well. I still long for a desktop, but that is only when the longing for Twilight Heroes. As I mentioned before System Access is outstanding for absolutely everything except for games like Twilight Heroes. I have however used it for everything, and I do mean everything, else. Banking, shopping, visiting all manner of web sites- SA did it all extremely well. This makes living out of my netbook fairly easy (with an external hard drive and a couple of flash disks) very easy.

Furthermore I cannot stop saying how much I love SA To Go. I am currently on my wife's laptop (who would take it very amiss if I were to instal a full time screen reader on her machine) and when I am done I simply close the internet and that's it. As I continue on my couch serfing quest I believe I will find even more use for SA To Go as I beg and borrow computers when my netbook isn't available.

Currently enjoying iced sweet tea with friends and looking forward to a great day tomorrow.

In two separate paragraphs of the Acts Luke tells us that
the early Christians in Jerusalem sold many of their
possessions, held the rest in common, and distributed goods
and money 'as any had need' (2:44, 45; 4:32-37). Are we to
deduce from this that they set a pattern which all
Christians are meant to copy, and that private property is
forbidden to Christians? Some groups have thought so.
Certainly the generosity and mutual care of those early
Christians are to be followed, for the New Testament
commands us many times to love and serve one another, and
to be generous (even sacrificial) in our giving. But to
argue from the practice of the early Jerusalem church that
all private ownership is abolished among Christians not
only cannot be maintained from Scripture but is plainly
contradicted by the apostle Peter in the same context (Acts
5:4) and by the apostle Paul elsewhere (e.g. 1 Tim. 6:17).
This example should put us on alert. We must derive our
standards of belief and behaviour from the teaching of the
New Testament, wherever it is given, rather than from the practices and experiences which it portrays. --John Stott

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blogging My Debt

For those who don't know me very well I have an abiding interest in money, wealth, and how one can be a good steward of the resources one receives. Part of being a good steward is becoming debt free. IMO there are two kinds of debt, good debt (debt for something that will bring in more money such as rental property) and bad debt (consumer debt- credit cards, car loans, etc.).

I believe that by keeping a log of my progress of becoming debt free and building up a reserve I will be more inclined to do what I say here. For starters I currently have a debt of $1,100 to pay off. I wish to build a reserve consisting of $12,000 in the bank and $5,000 in I Bonds. I will continue to log my monthly progress (or set backs) here. Any words of encouragement or advice are greatly appreciated.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Coffee Cantata

JS Bach's
Coffee Cantata
Libretto by
Christian Friedrich Henrici
Cantata BMV211

Composed for perfomance by Bach's Collegium at Zimmerman's Coffee House,
Leipzip, between 1732 & 1734

Recitative Narrator
Be quiet, stop chattering,
and pay attention to what's taking place:
here comes Herr Schlendrian
with his daughter Lieschen;
he's growling like a honey bear.
Hear for yourselves, what she has done to him!

Aria Schlendrian
Don't one's children cause one
endless trials & tribulations!
What I say each day
to my daughter Lieschen
falls on stony ground.

Schlendrian You wicked child, you disobedient girl,
oh! when will I get my way;
give up coffee!
Lieschen Father, don't be so severe!
If I can't drink
my bowl of coffee three times daily,
then in my torment I will shrivel up
like a piece of roast goat.

Aria Lieschen
Mm! how sweet the coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
mellower than muscatel wine.
Coffee, coffee I must have,
and if someone wishes to give me a treat,
ah, then pour me out some coffee!

Schlendrian If you don't give up drinking coffee
then you shan't go to any wedding feast,
nor go out walking.
oh! when will I get my way;
give up coffee!
Lieschen Oh well!
Just leave me my coffee!
Schlendrian Now I've got the little minx!
I won't get you a whalebone skirt
in the latest fashion.
Lieschen I can easily live with that.
Schlendrian You're not to stand at the window
and watch people pass by!
Lieschen That as well, only I beg of you,
leave me my coffee!
Schlendrian Furthermore, you shan't be getting
any silver or gold ribbon
for your bonnet from me!
Lieschen Yes, yes! only leave me to my pleasure!
Schlendrian You disobedient Lieschen you,
so you go along with it all!

Aria Schlendrian
Hard-hearted girls
are not so easily won over.
Yet if one finds their weak spot,
ah! then one comes away successful.

Schlendrian Now take heed what your father says!
Lieschen In everything but the coffee.
Schlendrian Well then, you'll have to resign yourself
to never taking a husband.
Lieschen Oh yes! Father, a husband!
Schlendrian I swear it won't happen.
Lieschen Until I can forgo coffee?
From now on, coffee, remain forever untouched!
Father, listen, I won't drink any
Schlendrian Then you shall have a husband at last!

Aria Lieschen
Today even
dear father, see to it!
Oh, a husband!
Really, that suits me splendidly!
If it could only happen soon
that at last, before I go to bed,
instead of coffee
I were to get a proper lover!

Recitative Narrator
Old Schlendrian goes off
to see if he can find a husband forthwith
for his daughter Lieschen;
but Leischen secretly lets it be known:
no suitor is to come to my house
unless he promises me,
and it is also written into the marriage contract,
that I will be permitted
to make myself coffee whenever I want.

A cat won't stop from catching mice,
and maidens remain faithful to their coffee.
The mother holds her coffee dear,
the grandmother drank it also,
who can thus rebuke the daughters!

This outstanding cantata is one of Bach's best (and I say that not simply because coffee is my addiction of choice). One doesn't think of classical music leaving one rolling in the aisles, but I would submit that Mozart, Bach, and Hyden all had quite entertaining works.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Homeless, or living out of my netbook

So I found out today that we will be let out of our lease early- like on 5-1 early. Good news- we will save a *TON* of money as our unit comes free on 7-1 and the cost of storage, a P.O. Box, and some financial gratitude for those we stay with in the itnerum will not equal our rent. The bad news- we are running like MAD to get everything ready to go. For myself this mostly means getting everything I need off of this machine to go onto my netbook. At this point I am giving harty thanks to God for buying that external harddrive last summer, it will prove an absolute Godsend this summer.

Additionally in the time between 5-1 and 7-1 we are homeless. As of 6-1 I will be at the summer program at the CCB, so I am set. Sueanne will be staying with family and Jenn, so she is set. It's the whole May thing that kind of has us concerned. We are contacting family and friends to get crash space on a weekly basis, in hopes that we will be able to cover ourselves in the meantime.

All in all a very exciting time. Getting out of our lease early overall is a blessing, and one I am grateful for. I will log how electronic life is on a netbook and external harddrive. I've been saying for months that a netbook could easily replace most people's desktops and notetakers, now I get to put my money where my mouth is. Will let you know how it goes.

Running around like mad but still having time for the iced coffee...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On the tea party and blindness

I found this post from Serotek to be most interesting. On the one hand it suggests correctly that one of the primary issues is government spending going into outdated technologies, while suggesting on the other hand that government spending isn't wasteful and that we as blind people would be worse off without it. On the former point we are in complete agreement, but on the latter point I must disagree. Would the market truly bare the current prices for adaptive technology? Is there such amazing innovation in the AT field that we need really worry about RND being discontinued? What RND exactly? As a company that supports affordibility in its products I would think Serotek would be above all others eager to see the government slops that keep adaptive technology prices above market go away. I hope their business model succeeds, because Freedom Scientific's model looks forward to the increased government spending for the blind we supposedly are in such need of. Give me reasonable prices I have a hope of paying, not endentured servitude to the government so I can have accessibility.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cheap Shots and Government Wellfare

I recently found this post from Cafe Hayek on snarky cheap shots- a post that I found personally touching as it excoriates those who delight in ad honimem attacks rather then addressing their points in an arguement. I have had several of these, as I currently receive social security payments due to my blindness, while strongly argueing for limited government and free markets. I have stated before and will state again that I find it extremely unfortunate that the means I currently find of living are from the government; however, I would present that if they were to go away tonight I would not starve- nor would my wife. We would no doubt have some hard choices to make, but we would survive- as would all those who are on social security. Reliance on the government from a personal viewpoint has given me nothing but a sense of worthlessness and being a drain on society. I find happiness and worth when I have had employment and been able to make my own way in life. I look forward to the day when I am able to disconnect this IV of government and walk forward in freedom. This disconnection may be awhile in coming, but I work to make it happen- and as is mentioned in the post above of my personal state doesn't impact the validity of my arguements for the free market and limited government.

The only reason why we find it so necessary currently is because we have been trained to do so. People survived perfectly fine before the 1930s, and I have no doubt would do so if SS were to depart directly.

One arguement as a disabled person I have heard from other disabled individuals is that the cost of adaptive equipment would bankrupt us if we didn't have government support- and if we are talking about today's prices for adaptive equipment I would quite agree. If one looks however at the real worth of these products one would find if the companies didn't have the government doling out the money they would be forced either to drop prices in order to stay in business or go out of business. Shocking notion in today's economy of bail outs, but such things can be a good thing. I do not believe that subsequent development of adaptive technology would end, and I suggest that those who believe so have no concept of what market economics is. My primary example is Serotek. This company has lowered the bar drasticly on prices, particularly for screen reading technology. Granted it may not have all the bells and wistles one might like (though it has a surprisingly large number considering the difference in price) but it works. With the new atom edition of System Access one can have a completely accessible computer via a netbook for $500. Now I am not made of money, but even I would find such a deal within my means, especially if such an avenue were my only method of gaining access to the internet and on line commerse.

Additionally there is the example of Apple's VoiceOver software. Less useful then System Access it still provides access to e mail, the internet, word processing, etc. useing the Apple OS platform. How much for this access one might ask? It is free.

With all this in mind I find it extremely unfortunate that some view government slops as the only means of obtaining independence. I find it absolutely criminal that companies charge $800-$1000 for blind individuals to access the internet. This reliance on government makes us throw our freedom to choose into the hand of the local VR councilor and limits our choices about where we live, what we do, and how we access life to them. I prefer freedom, and thus will I continue to support Serotek and all companies that support freedom for markets and individuals.

P.S. Found this on resenting the rich very valid. from Cato

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

10% Read Braille

Although I find the stat itself troubling (if not surprising) I like the positive points put forward about Braille. In particular the focus on the fact that literacy for the blind can only be found in Braille.

I am applying for grants to obtain an Alva BC640 to aid in my own quest for greater Braille literacy. Hopefully it will go well.

Fewer Than 10 Percent Of Blind Americans Read Braille


BALTIMORE (AP) -- Jordan Gilmer has a degenerative condition that
will leave him completely blind. But as a child, his teachers did not
emphasize Braille, the system of reading in which a series of raised dots
signify letters of the alphabet.

Instead, they insisted he use what little vision he had to read print. By
the third grade, he was falling behind in his schoolwork.

''They gave him Braille instruction, but they didn't tell us how to get
Braille books, and they didn't want him using it during the day,'' said
Jordan's mother, Carrie Gilmer of Minneapolis. Teachers said Braille would
be ''a thing he uses way off in the far distant future, and don't worry
about it.''

That experience is common: Fewer than 10 percent of the 1.3 million
blind people in the United States read Braille, and just 10 percent of
children are learning it, according to a report to be released Thursday
the National Federation of the Blind.

By comparison, at the height of its use in the 1950s, more than half the
nation's blind children were learning Braille. Today Braille is considered
by many to be too difficult, too outdated, a last resort.

Instead, teachers ask students to rely on audio texts, voice-recognition
software or other technology. And teachers who know Braille often must
shuttle between schools, resulting in haphazard instruction, the report

''You can find good teachers of the blind in America, but you can't find
good programs,'' said Marc Maurer, the group's president. ''There is not a
commitment to this population that is at all significant almost

Using technology as a substitute for Braille leaves blind people
the federation said, citing studies that show blind people who know
are more likely to earn advanced degrees, find good jobs and live

''It's really sad that so many kids are being shortchanged,'' said Debby
Brackett of Stuart, Fla., who pressured schools to provide capable Braille
teachers for her 12-year-old daughter, Winona.

One study found that 44 percent of participants who grew up reading
were unemployed, compared with 77 percent for those who relied on print.
Overall, blind adults face 70 percent unemployment.

The federation's report pulled together existing research on Braille
literacy, and its authors acknowledge that not enough research has been
done. The 10 percent figure comes from federal statistics gathered by the
American Printing House for the Blind, a company that develops products
the visually impaired.

The federation also did some original research, including a survey of 500
people that found the ability to read Braille correlated with higher
of education, a higher likelihood of employment and higher income.

The report coincides with the 200th birthday of Louis Braille, the
who invented the Braille code as a teenager. Resistance to his system was
immediate; at one point, the director of Braille's school burned the books
he and his classmates had transcribed. The school did not want its blind
students becoming too independent; it made money by selling crafts they

The system caught on, but began declining in the 1960s along with the
widespread integration of blind children into public schools. It has
continued with the advent of technology that some believe makes Braille

''Back in about 1970 or so, I was heading to college, and somebody said
me, 'Now that you've got the tape recorder, everything will be all right.
the early 1980s, somebody else said, 'Now that you've got a talking
computer, everything will be all right,''' said Marc Maurer, president of
the federation.

''They were both wrong. And the current technology isn't going to make
everything all right unless I know how to put my hands on a page that has
words on it and read them.''

Audio books are no substitute, said Carlton Walker, an attorney and the
mother of a legally blind girl from McConnellsburg, Pa. Walker once met a
blind teenager who had only listened to audio books; the teen was shocked
discover that ''Once upon a time'' was four separate words.

Walker also had to lobby teachers to provide Braille for her 8-year-old
daughter, Anna, instead of just large-print books.

''At 3 years old, Anna could compete with very large letters. When you
older, you can't compete,'' Walker said. She once asked a teacher,
are you going to do when she's reading Dickens?' She said, 'Well, we'll
go to audio then.'

''If that were good enough for everybody, why do we spend millions of
dollars teaching people to read?''

Gilmer, now an 18-year-old aspiring lawyer, worked on his Braille in a
summer program when he was in middle school and can now read 125 words a
minute, up from his previously rate, an excruciatingly slow 20 words a

''Just try it,'' Carrie Gilmer said. ''Go get a paragraph, get a
and try to read 20 words a minute. Try and read that slow and see how
frustrating it is.''

Fluent Braille readers can read 200 words a minute or more, the

Carrie Gilmer is president of a parents' group within the federation for
blind. She believes poor or haphazard instruction is largely responsible
the decline in Braille literacy, but she says sometimes teachers push
Braille only to meet resistance from parents.

''They're afraid of their child looking blind, not fitting in,'' Gilmer

The report outlines ambitious goals for reversing the trend, including
lobbying all 50 states to require teachers of blind children to be
in Braille instruction by 2015. But its immediate goal is to simply make
people aware that there's no substitute for Braille. It's not just a tool
help people function -- it can bring joy, Maurer said.

''The concept of reading Braille for fun is a thing that lots of people
don't know,'' Maurer said. ''And yet I do this every day. I love the
beautiful, orderly lines of words that convey a different idea that can
stimulate me or make me excited or sad. ... This is what we're trying to

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Colorado Joint Braille Resolution

Below is the joint resolution passed by the Colorado House and Senate on March 26th recognizing Louis Braille in general and the Braille coin in particular. Great stuff. I listened to the readings and adoption via streaming, and it was most moving.

First Regular Session
Sixty-seventh General Assembly

LLS NO. R09-0962.01 Joel Moore

Shaffer B.,


Senate Committees House Committees


WHEREAS, Since its invention by Louis Braille, the reading and
writing code for the blind that bears his name has become the accepted
method of reading and writing for the blind the world over; and

WHEREAS, Braille is used to represent not only the alphabets of
most written languages but also mathematical and scientific notation and
the reproduction of musical scores; and

WHEREAS, Braille provides people who are blind with the power
of knowledge, expanding their opportunities and equipping them with the
tools to be productive and imaginative contributors to society; and

WHEREAS, Contrary to popular belief, Braille is not difficult to
learn, nor is reading Braille slower than reading print; and

WHEREAS, While technology has improved the lives of blind
people by facilitating quick access to information, no technology can
replace Braille literacy since literacy is the ability to read and write and
to do both interactively; and

WHEREAS, Despite Braille’s efficiency, versatility, and universal
acceptance by the blind, the rate of Braille literacy in the United States
has declined to the point where only 10 percent of blind children are
learning to read and write Braille; and
WHEREAS, Just as a literacy rate of 10 percent among this
nation’s sighted children would be rightly viewed as a crisis and as cause
for national outrage, the decline in Braille literacy is a crisis, and swift
action must be taken to reverse this dangerous trend; and

WHEREAS, Braille literacy is the key to independence,
productivity, and success for blind people, as evidenced by the fact that,
while 70 percent of the blind are unemployed, 85 percent of those who
are employed use Braille; and

WHEREAS, The United States Congress officially recognized the
importance of Braille by passing the Louis Braille Bicentennial--Braille
Literacy Commemorative Coin Act, authorizing the striking of a United
States silver dollar in commemoration of the two hundredth anniversary
of the birth of Louis Braille; and

WHEREAS, The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s
oldest and largest organization of blind people and the leading advocate
for Braille literacy, has launched a national ”Braille Readers are Leaders”
campaign to promote awareness of the importance of Braille and the
magnitude of the Braille literacy crisis and to increase the availability of
competent Braille instruction and of Braille reading materials in this
country, with funding for said campaign to come from a portion of the
proceeds of the sale of the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar; and

WHEREAS, The National Federation of the Blind has today
released a comprehensive report, ”The Braille Literacy Crisis in
America--Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind”,
and the United States Mint has this day released the Louis Braille
Bicentennial Silver Dollar for purchase by the general public; now,

Be It Resolved by the Senate of the Sixty-seventh General Assembly
of the State of Colorado, the House of Representatives concurring herein:

(1) That we, the members of the Colorado General Assembly, do
hereby proclaim March 26, 2009, as National Braille Readers are Leaders
Day, to celebrate the hope, opportunity, and power that literacy in Braille
provides to the blind and to our nation; and

(2) That we call upon all public officials, educators, and citizens

-2- 031

throughout Colorado and this nation to recognize the importance of Braille in the lives of blind people and to assist the National Federation of the Blind in its efforts to increase instruction in and use of Braille in Colorado and across the United States.

Be ItFurther Resolved, That copies of this Joint Resolution be sent to Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.; the members of the Colorado Congressional delegation; and Scott C. LaBarre, President, National Federation of the Blind of Colorado.

-3- 031

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Acquiring a new Braille display

Yes indeed as everyone knows I have been drooling over an Alva BC640 and today I determined to acquire one. Of course this entailed a loan with my soul as calateral, but what's eternal life compaired to a new shiney Braille display? I looked at and went, well only $5,500- how can I ever pass *that deal* up?

For those of you having a bad day today is April 1st.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Club

Visit the Voice of the Martyrs' Blog For those interested I am partisapating in a book club hosted by the great folks at econ talk.

Also I had to post this on Hubris.

Ayn Rand

Really enjoyed a couple of articles- What Capitalists Need to Know

Extremely timely and important call to join the battle to defend capitalism.

Is Rand Relvelent a question I respond to with a loud YES! Although I disagree strongly with her views on religion I think her commentary on big government and capitalism is superb.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Vampires and Libertarians

The vampire is my favorite type of monster, which is why I found this review of the Twilight series extremely interesting and valid. The revising of historical works to suit our sex crazed culture is unfortunate in the extreme. Part of my love for Stoker's Dracula is the very fact that the monster is the monster, not some misunderstood outsider with an axe to grind. The whole point of tale and story in my mind is to put forward some truth while entertaining. Stoker does this excellently, as does the Sword of Truth series- particularly because such stories recognize absolute truth and good and evil. I think Liberals hate the concept of true evil existing in the world, and believe that if only we all communicated clearly the world would be perfect. They seemingly cannot grasp that the message they might hear when all the barriers to communication have been removed and everyone knows where everyone else stands is, "Death to America!"

I am also extremely please to read this on the increasing popularity of Ayn Rand and the possible merger of Libertarians and conservatives. As I look at the insanity of the Dems "dig ourselves out of this economic hole" philosophy I genuinely believe that a solid fiscally free market stance is needed, and all its defenders and champions need to be joint together in the battle. Lassez-Faire!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Braille Coin

Tomorrow the long awaited Louis Braille Coin goes on sale. Planning to buy two or three myself, as it combines two of my favorite things- coins and Braille.

Below is a press release from the NFBCO on the event tomorrow. I am saddened I will not be able to make the festivities, but trust they will be superb anyway.

National Federation of the Blind of Colorado Celebrates
Release of Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar

Denver, Colorado (March 25, 2009): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Colorado will On March 26 celebrate the release of the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar. This historic commemorative coin, the first-ever U.S. coin to contain tactile, readable Braille, will be launched at a special ceremony at the headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind, in Baltimore, beginning at 10:00 a.m. EDT on March 26, 2009.

In Denver, Colorado and under the leadership of Majority Leader, Senator Brendon Shaffer and Representative Joe Rice, the Colorado General Assembly will honor the launch by adopting a Joint Resolution highlighting the release of the coin and emphasizing the Braille literacy program partially funded by the sale of this commemorative coin.

Immediately preceding the assembly's passing of the resolution, the NFB of Colorado will hold a press event at 08:30 am in the Press Room; (room 326 on the third floor in the southwest corner of the Capitol). State Senator Brandon Shaffer and other dignitaries will be in attendance.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "If the blind can read, the blind can achieve. The Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar celebrates the man who gave literacy to the blind and is a unique and beautiful keepsake, but it is also a coin with a mission: to make sure that every blind child and every adult losing vision in our nation has the opportunity to learn Braille. "

Scott LaBarre, president of the Federation's Colorado affiliate said "I am a totally blind attorney operating my own successful law practice. I would not be able to do so without being extremely literate. Braille is fundamental to my level of literacy, without which I

could not practice law. The Louis Braille Coin and its attendant literacy program will bring success and freedom to the generations of tomorrow. We know that the working

age blind face an unemployment rate exceeding seventy percent, yet a substantial majority of the blind who are employed are Braille readers. We salute Senator Shaffer and Representative Rice for demonstrating the leadership to call attention to this literacy crisis and for supporting the program to start fixing the problem."

Senator Shaffer said, "It's unfortunate that we are so quick to forget the invaluable contributions that the sight impaired have made to our society. Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder, Galileo Galilee, Kirby Puckett, Claude Monet, and David Paterson are just a few individuals that have and continue to contribute. Braille is an accessible, efficient mechanism for learning and there is no reason why only 10 percent of blind children are learning it. The sight impaired deserve the same opportunities as all individuals and Colorado is ready to provide that for them."

Regarding the resolution, Representative Rice said, "Literacy is considered by our society to be a fundamental civil right in America today. I applaud the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado as it works through its Braille Readers are Leaders Campaign to provide the right of literacy through Braille to all of America's blind children and adults."

Sales of the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar, which was authorized by a law passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2006, will support the NFB's "Braille Readers are Leaders" campaign. The campaign is a national initiative created to double the number of blind children learning Braille by 2015.

The National Federation of the Blind is asking the American public, through purchasing this stunning silver dollar, to join its campaign to bring literacy, education, opportunity, and success to the blind of America. The Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar goes on sale to the general public at noon on March 26. Those interested in ordering a coin should visit or call 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). For more information about the National Federation of the Blind and the Braille Readers are Leaders campaign, visit


Friday, March 20, 2009

A quote for the next four years

Bastiat: Selected Essays, Chapter 5, The State:

Oh, pardon me, sublime writers, whom nothing stops, not even contradictions. I am wrong, no doubt, and I retract my error with all my heart. I demand nothing better, you may be sure, than that you should really have discovered outside of us a benevolent and inexhaustible being, calling itself the state, which has bread for all mouths, work for all hands, capital for all enterprises, credit for all projects, ointment for all wounds, balm for all suffering, advice for all perplexities, solutions for all problems, truths for all minds, distractions for all varieties of boredom, milk for children and wine for old age, which provides for all our needs, foresees all our desires, satisfies all our curiosity, corrects all our errors, amends all our faults, and exempts us all henceforth from the need for foresight, prudence, judgment, sagacity, experience, order, economy, temperance, and industry.

Can we say the federal government these days? Yes, yes we can.

Enjoying the iced coffee...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You're Pitiful

I happen to be a fan of Weird Al and loved his You're Pitiful song. It's now downloadable for free at the link above.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Plug and Braille

This development is a very happy thing for me, as I have wondered at the effectivness of the Accessible Anywhere Braille Display petition. This shows me that those of us who love Braille and want it to expand are having an impact. I congratulate Handy Tech on giving tangible evidence that they wish to provide their customers with high quality products that are not limited to their closed platforms, but accessible anywhere.

Plug and Braille with Handy Tech Easy Braille!
On December 11, 2008, Serotek announced via the Serotek blog their endorsement of the Accessibility Anywhere Based Braille Display petition to Braille display manufacturers created and written by George McDermith. This petition urges Braille display manufacturers to do-away with proprietary drivers and instead use standard, mainstream technologies that will drive these devices regardless of the screen reader being used.

As an avid Braille reader myself, I am proud to be a signer of this petition. We at Handy Tech North America support Mr. McDermith's efforts with respect to this matter and in order to demonstrate our commitment to the cause, we are pleased to announce the Handy Tech Plug and Braille initiative with the introduction of Easy Braille with HID support.

HID stands for Human Interface Device and is the open standard for plug and play devices such as keyboards and mice. The HID protocol requires no separate software installations in order for these devices to work. Now Braille readers can simply plug-in their Handy Tech Easy Braille with HID support and gain immediate Braille access regardless of their chosen screen reader.

Although Easy Braille with HID support has been several months in the making prior to Mr. McDermith's petition, his timing is perfect as it affords Handy Tech the opportunity to demonstrate that we are once again on the leading edge when it comes to giving customers the tools they need when they need them.

For over a year now, Handy Tech customers have enjoyed the ability to walk up to one of millions of Apple computers and gain immediate grade two Braille access simply by plugging in their Handy Tech Braille display. Handy Tech is pleased to now offer the same freedom of access on the Microsoft Windows side or on any other platform that supports the HID protocol.

Combine this new Plug and Braille development with the high quality and ergonomic design for which Handy Tech products are known worldwide, and enjoy a flexible and reliable Braille solution for many years to come in the Handy Tech Easy Braille.

"I don't believe that people should be penalized because of the screen reader they use," says Sigi Kipke, Managing Director of Handy Tech GmbH in Horb, Germany, the manufacturers of Handy Tech Braille products. Kipke further stresses the importance of access to portable electronic Braille by stating that Braille products should not be viewed as some obscure technology used by just a few blind people, rather it should be viewed as a progressive and innovative technology that gives Braille readers the same advantages and opportunities as print readers.

Although Easy Braille with HID support is slated for release in May of 2009, Handy Tech representatives from both European and North American offices will be demonstrating this exciting new development at this year's California State University Northridge Center on Disabilities 24th Annual Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, otherwise known as CSUN.

Please join us in the exhibit hall at booth 302 of the Marriott LAX hotel where we will be enthusiastically demonstrating the following products:

Easy Braille with new HID support.
The new Handy Tech Braille driver for Nuance Talks which allows for the input of grade two Braille among other things.
The powerful netbook computer and Braille display options available from Handy Tech North America which does away with the out-dated notion that technology for blind people must be based on a closed and proprietary platform.
Last but not least, the latest developments around the exciting Active Tactile Control (ATC) technologies that actually senses the user's fingers on the Braille display and responds accordingly based on reading behaviors. This ground breaking technology is useful for Braille readers of all skill levels.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Found this to be a good commentary on the Prop 8 debate and the gay activists' reaction to it.

This talks about capitalism verses central banking as part of the cause of our current economic woes. This gives some of the best financial advice I've heard in months- let them fail.

As we continue into these dark days of ignorence being touted as knowledge and falsehood being proclaimed as truth I take great comfort in the fact that the nutters haven't taken over the world in its entirety.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

10 Key Ideas to Opening the Door to Economic Thinking

This is a great resource for learning about Economics and how it works. If you are concerned about our financial situation nationally and wish to understand what's going on, then I suggest beginning here with the basics. Advanced resources are available, including an extremely useful Concise Economic Encyclopedia. This outstanding article on Labor Unions comes from that resource. It is important to note that this is a non partisan academic site. If you are interested in facts and an understanding of Economics as a subject as opposed to an agenda for the right or the left, then this is the site for you.

Global Warming etc.

This shows exactly what I make of global warming and shows that God does indeed have a great sense of humor.

Also this is a video of Rush Limbaugh's speech to the CPAC this past Saturday. If you have an open mind I would suggest listening to it, as I found the points in his speech very valid ones. If you on the other hand have a mind like a steel trap don't waste your time.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Beauty of Collective Community

This is the titled article- an outstanding and very well written article in response to the "What about me?" haters.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Employee Free Choice Act- George Orwell eat your heart out

Couldn't agree more with this article talking about the facts surrounding the EFCA. I always find it problematic when people wish to use the emotional arguement (those forign bastards are stealing our jobs) rather then looking at the facts of the matter. The heart is an invaluable gift from God, but thinking with it isn't one of its primary purposes.

I *really* liked this letter to the editor of the Washington Times. Also this talks about the Republicans talking the talk again, but it being tough to buy due to the past eight years of idiotic Republicans acting like Democrats.

Finally this is an excellent piece that responds to the tax hiking nutters and why what they are doing is foolish at best.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Economic Outlook

Found this an excellent outlook on the economy, particularly if things remain the same.

I rather liked these rambling musings as well as this by the great Thomas Sowell.

This talks about the new new deal, and this is an excellent article about the problematic nature of nationalism and economics.

It's so obvious even the U.N. can tell

Whether you like the U.N. or not this story should get your blood boiling- particularly if you are green.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Economic Quotes

Interested in learning more about economics, instead of simply listening to the pundents? Click here and add it to your favorites to receive a daily quote from the economists of the past.

Also this discusses the insanity of the Fed these days, as does this on the government. Finally, this speaks of the increasing push of the government into our lives. Bush looks like child's play compaired to the Dems.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Keep it up

This tells how the GOP in California's senate have truly grown a pair and are knocking them out of the park. I can only pray the rest of the GOP nationally takes note of their principled stand against robbing the tax payers for the benefit of the nanny state and act similarly for fiscal responsibility and free markets. Rock on!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Some thoughts on Economics and Obama

Found this an interesting read, as is this on President Obama. I think they are points to be considered, regardless of whehter you agree with the man's politics or not.

Also this was rather disturbing, considering the government's ever expanding interest in every single detail of our lives. I wonder how long it will be before hamburgers are declared illegal due to their harmful impact on the environment. Talk about legislating morality, we are being forced into backing the morals of green through government force. Give me liberty, thank you. If we can't legislate morals, then why do Liberals cheer when it is tried on their end of the spectrim on the majority?

GOP holds strong

“Our state has been spending beyond its means for many years now,” said Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, an Orange County Republican. “We’re asking the taxpayers of California for too much of their own money to cover over a problem of our own making.” --Full Article

"[...] here's a great definition of bipartisanship: "Roosevelt and Reagan reveal the dirty rotten secret of bipartisanship. It happens only when one side is cowed, beaten or frightened. More competitive elections mean more ardent debates." And there's a perfect definition of bipartisanship. The Democrat version: "We're gonna beat you down, we're gonna make you bring your toothbrush in here and you're going to go along with us because we're going to frighten you, we're going to cow you and we're going to make you think it is hopeless," and that's bipartisanship. Bipartisanship only happens when one side caves in, [...] because it involves quitting, and of course, Winston Churchill, whose statue, whose bust was sent packing by Obama, one of his favorite quotes, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." ---Full Article

These thoughts are extremely valid IMO. Additionally I found this on the Liberal Wellfare state most itneresting. I find it unfortunately the people are determined to make wards and dependents of the state everywhere. Although I myself receive Social Security for being blind it is not a state I would wish upon anyone. I constantly feel useless and a mooch off of those who do work and pay taxes. I am insulted and vexed that Liberials seem to think this should be the state for everyone, those who work and better themselves being forced to give what they have earned to those who have not earned it, myself included. I hope a more reasonable way of thinking, one that upholds the value of the individual and his or her right to better themselves and keep what they have earned takes a new firm grip on the imagination and values of this country.

Finally I found this on free trade and protectionist concerns a spine chilling read. I spoke with my property manager todya and he and I agreed that if this absurdity of big government speading and caving to the victimhood mentality continues we will be in a poor state very shortly indeed. God keep us focus on you.

Environmental Super Heroes

So I had to laugh aloud when reading this compairing various environmental super heroes. Quite the riot. Although I am no green nut job I do like the idealism of Captain Planet, even if such idealism would never work out in real life. Nevertheless protecting the rain forests is cool, so I say revive the Cap and perhaps push him a little more towards the middle from the far left, and we would have something worth promoting IMO.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Serotek Turns Seven!

I couldn't agree more with the below sentiments and those found throughout the entire article.

"At Serotek we believe in universal accessibility – no exceptions. The day we don’t have to design or sell another piece of software created to make inaccessible applications accessible, will be a celebration. We know we won’t lack for marvelous new things to do that make life more fun – more livable for everyone. And when that day comes the products we design for our blind brothers and sisters will have a market of billions worldwide. Our competition will be the big software players, not the niche organizations that specialize in government funded aid to the visually impaired. No question but that Serotek is a pioneer and we may end up just collecting the arrows while others move on to settle the territory. But I don’t think so. I think we have the brains and genius to be designing world class products for the entire business and consumer market – products that blind folks can use right out of the box." --Full Article

We are not all Socialists

Over at Newsweek, they may all be [1] socialists now . But some of us persist in believing that transferring ever more power to the state is such a disaster for both our economy and our freedoms that America deserves the effort — no matter how untrendy — to reverse the tide. Yes, we now have a congress in which the majority count it as a great achievement to ram through the biggest spending binge in history. Yes, we have a president who praises this $787 billion act of government gluttony and central planning as “[2] progress.” But that doesn’t mean we should burn the remaining copies of Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose, and line up to chuck The Wealth of Nations into the collectively-owned woodchipper.

Most disturbing in that Newsweek piece, which echoes President Obama’s dismissive rhetoric about free markets, is the patronizing tone in which we are told that there is no point in further debate:

If we fail to acknowledge the reality of the growing role of government in the economy, insisting instead on fighting 21st-century wars with 20th-century terms and tactics, then we are doomed to a fractious and unedifying debate. The sooner we understand where we truly stand, the sooner we can think more clearly about how to use government in today’s world.

What, exactly, are these dazzling new 21st-century terms and tactics for which we are supposed to forsake all memory and spurn all debate? The cult of “climate change?” The group chant of “We are one” -? Deep thinking as represented on Google News?

Actually, there is a desperate need to revive those 20th century debates about government versus free markets — and there is plenty of room for such debates to be edifying in the extreme, since many of those now waving aside free markets and genuinely private enterprise seem to have chucked right down the memory hole such basic and vital insights as those set forth by Friedrich Hayek in his 1944 Road to Serfdom, or his indispensable 1945 essay on [3] The Use of Knowledge in Society.

This is an excellent time to revive the lessons about the importance of free-market prices as signals of where resources can most productively be put to use (that’s how America got rich). This is a great time to re-examine the loss of freedom, and the immense damper imposed on creativity, productivity and individual dreams, when government controls people’s livelihoods. And there could be no better time to review what actually went wrong in America’s system in recent years – with profligate budgets, loose money and government poisoning the housing market with forced lending, implied taxpayer guarantees, and hellish knock-on toxic effects. Fannie Mae was not something cooked up by the free market. It was a product of the same state-engineering mindset that now brings us the godzilla “stimulus” bill. --Full Article

The rest is equally valid and vital. I found the patronizing tone a very good point to bring up. Debate is all well and good, but I absolutely hate the snarky tone and attatude when it comes to this sort of thing. Some may say Conservatives do the same, but I certianly seem to find those to be limited to a few nutzoid talk show hosts on the fringe- where as the neo socialists and Liberals in general tend towards this snarky serlf righteous manner in general. Make a point, and they attack you as unfit and backward. What about my arguement however? Apparently this doesn't much matter. Case in point was a discussion about government spending with a friend. I made my point, and as opposed to discussing the values of her point of view, or pointing out the weaknesses in my points, she attacked me personally. And people wonder why we can't communciate? With all the "tollerence" about it is indeed a wonder. bit about the

Sunday, February 15, 2009

California: Big Government at work

For anyone that believes in the wisdom of the government running the economy (and in big government in general) I offer this article which talks about the fine job the California government has done on that front. At least the Republicans in the state are finally saying no more tax hikes and attempting to focus on the real solutions, speading cuts and tax cuts. I would submit that if Liberals have their way fiscally we can expect similar "solutions" that have already been tried by the Californians. Big government simply doesn't work, and if fiscal responsibility had been a term the Democrates understood I doubt very much California would be in this position. I will be interested in seeing if the GOP members hold out. I certainly hope so, for the sake of true financial recovery in that state.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Nothing New Under the Sun

This article on Cafe Hayek speaks of how the free market has died many times over the past several years and what Adam Smith makes of it. This also discusses the concerns with governments running businesses.

GOP finally acting like the GOP

It's very nice to finally see the GOP starting to act like the GOP again. This story speaks about the justifiable scorn being heaped on the porkibus bill being passed by the Congress, despite the lack of bi-partisonship and the lack of much that will actually help the economy.

We can also all breath a sigh of relief, as the government is once again here to "help" of the American people, this time on housing. Seeing as the government is well known for it's artful handling of the economy, not only in this country but far more in places like China and Russia, and as we have millions of people being tossed out of their houses to dwell on the streets because of mean corperations who want to be paid for their loans (a shocking and horrid idea) this makes total sense.

On a more serious note I am praying that we can survive this foolishness. Capitalism works best because it allows individuals, who understand what's best for them, to make choices instead of the government. Government economies have been tried before, and we see the standard of living there. That's what I want baby! Give me government issued rice and rubber shoes to wear. Hooah!

I am going to fix some beautiful capitalist coffee I bought and read some Cafe Hayek. I think the Sword of Truth series, The Road to Serfdom, and Capitalism the Unknown Ideal should be manditory reading in schools and in life. Do alot more for the everyday useful knowledge of people at least, so perhaps we could discuss solutions as opposed to what's "fair".

NFB on the Kindle 2

I found the below extremely helpful and good to know. The part about reading in private was particularly poinyant, as it is one of what I consider the basic rights of mankind.

National Federation of the Blind Responds to Authors Guild Statement on the Amazon Kindle 2
Baltimore, Maryland (February 12, 2009): The National Federation of the Blind, the largest organization of blind people in the United States, today responded to a statement put out by the Authors Guild advising its members to consider negotiating contracts prohibiting e-books to be read aloud by the new Amazon Kindle 2, which incorporates text-to-speech technology. The Authors Guild argues that the reading of a book out loud by a machine is a copyright infringement unless the copyright holder has specifically granted permission for the book to be read aloud.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "The National Federation of the Blind supports all technologies that allow blind people to have better access to the printed word, including the ability of devices like the Kindle 2 to read commercial e-books aloud using text-to-speech technology. Although the Authors Guild claims that it supports making books accessible to the blind, its position on the inclusion of text-to-speech technology in the Kindle 2 is harmful to blind people. The Authors Guild says that having a book read aloud by a machine in the privacy of one's home or vehicle is a copyright infringement. But blind people routinely use readers, either human or machine, to access books that are not available in alternative formats like Braille or audio. Up until now, no one has argued that this is illegal, but now the Authors Guild says that it is. This is absolutely wrong. The blind and other readers have the right for books to be presented to us in the format that is most useful to us, and we are not violating copyright law as long as we use readers, either human or machine, for private rather than public listening. The key point is that reading aloud in private is the same whether done by a person or a machine, and reading aloud in private is never an infringement of copyright.

"Amazon has taken a step in the right direction by including text-to-speech technology for reading e-books aloud on its new Kindle 2," Dr. Maurer continued. "We note, however, that the device itself cannot be used independently by a blind reader because the controls to download a book and begin reading it aloud are visual and therefore inaccessible to the blind. We urge Amazon to rectify this situation as soon as possible in order to make the Kindle 2 a device that truly can be used both by blind and sighted readers. By doing so, Amazon will make it possible for blind people to purchase a new book and begin reading it immediately, just as sighted people do."


About the National Federation of the Blind

With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind
is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind
people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people's lives
through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs
encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading force
in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's blind. In
January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the Blind
Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in the
United States for the blind led by the blind.

Visit the Voice of the Martyrs' Blog

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Humorous Scripture

I have always found the below highly amusing, and thought I would share.

"Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims." Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?" And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded." --Acts 19:13-16

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Anyone who has spent any time with me in person, read any of my profiles, or reads my tweets knows that I am a coffee nut. I used to sign all my blog posts with "I follow with the iced coffee..." to inform my rabid throng of readers that I was being carried through life by God's hand with that blessed beverage in my hand, before I decided that VOM deserved the slot more.

I love my coffee, dark and iced preferablly perhaps with a shot of some decent flavor like mint. I therefore take a great interest in the coffee houses around the nation, and I found this to be an apt deminstration of why competition in particular, and capitalism in general, is so helpful for us. For those who desire a socialist bent, tell me when was the last time you had a really GOOD cup of coffee at a government agency? ... That's what I thought.

Visit the Voice of the Martyrs' Blog

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Temperary Slavery is still Slavery

This article talks about temperary slavery still being slavery in regards to "public service" equating to serving the government. Some extremely valid points IMO, as I believe that volenttary service to a cause is one thing, but enforcing it as a patriotic duty is another. I think one can serve the country equally well through starting a business and making as high a profit as possible, thus truly building up our economy as opposed to the sudo communistic service to the government.

Visit the Voice of the Martyrs' Blog

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dave Barry Speaks on House Cleaning

Reading this article by Dave Barry made me laugh quite and bit. Excuse me, I need to go clean the bathroom... now where did I leave that Everclear?

Saturday, January 31, 2009


I was happily on my way to bed when I decided to look at the Club for Growth's blog and found this great article on the defense of free trade for cheese. I additionally found this which has a link to a fasenating podcast on truth in economics.

When Putin has a better concept of what good government spending is then our President, one begins to think that we indeed do have an attatude problem.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Life Optimism

I am an optimist on the matter of life. I believe that a person has inherent value due to his humanity, and thus even a life not lived to its full potential still has value. This also makes me pro-life. I do not believe if a woman is pregnant and she doesn't want the baby, this desire on her part gives her the right to end that life. Indeed, she may if she wishs give it up for adoption, but to say that life does not matter because she didn't wish it right now is absurd at best, as well as being immoral.

I was dismayed therefore when President Obama was elected, as his vocal support for the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) placed him solidly on the side of death. I too some heart when I read this article for being optimistic. I am also well aware of the fact that the laws can say whatever they want, but it is the people on the ground who will make the difference. I was pleased to find out about the 40 days for life campgain, and will be involved with it as much as possible during this bleak time for those who believe in life over death. This gives a brief review of Rowe V. Wayde 36 years down the road.

Finally, I found this article by Mark Steyn to give me a smile.

On dogs

My wife (the most beautiful woman on God's green earth) wants a dog. Not only does she want a dog, she wants a dog that reminds me of Dante's Inferno when he describes Cerberus, minus the two extra heads of course. I have no problem with getting my wife a dog, though I took some comfort in this article from the great Dave Barry. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not celebrating the death of the SMA?

I recently read this article from the Blind Access Journal that mentions some concerns about the death of the SMA. The primary concern is that with SMA profits AT companies will not be willing/able to keep up with mainstream technology. I find this arguement puzzeling, as currently System Access is far more stable then JAWS, equal to it in all ways except for one or two used by computer nuts like myself (and even then it is a close second), and Serotek's business model seems to opporate just fine without a SMA based model. I think this may indeed force the AT companies to get off the path of government handouts and get onto the path of innovation.

All hail the death of the SMA, and thanks be to God and Serotek for killing it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I am thrilled at this announcement from Serotek that they will be eliminating all their SMAs (Software Maintanence Agreements). This is the sort of innovation I have come to expect from Serotek, but even so I am always stunned anew when they once again blow my expatations out of the water.

For my birthday I got a netbook from my wife (the most beautiful woman on the earth) and the System Access Atom Edition from my friend Jenn to go with it. I cannot express how pleased I am at the responsiveness of SA and how pleased I am to know that when it comes time to switch all my boxes over to SA the transision will be an easy one. With Ellequence no longer being supported I see JAWS losing a HUGE part of its market share, as it is only Ellequence that has me currently useing JAWS 10 on my primary machine. Without that advantage I see absolutely no reason to give JAWS any marks above SA, nor Window-Eyes for that matter. I see the innovation for which Serotek is so properly known carrying it, and System Access, far beyond its current market share, even with the government slops being thrown at Freedom Scientific. When customers begin to see that quality and affordability are both available with System Access and that going with JAWS or Window-Eyes offers no real advantage and less customer service and affordability, it will be time for the folks at FS to prepare for a downhill ride. This has been long in coming, as on the whole the majority of AT companies can hardly be called innovative- hence why Serotek is so refreshing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Word Press Mirror

So I've got this blog feeding into a Word Press blog to try and determine how well I like Word Press. If I like it well enough I will switch over there, but if not I will keep blogging here. The Word Press format seems rather busy for my taste however, so I'll probably just keep things going here. God knows it will make the Twitter feed simpler to manage.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some Thoughts on Braille

As I begin to delve more deeply into the AT field, going beyond a hobby to a profession I have found the tendency to disregard Braille displays as a important and necessary part of most blind individuals AT package rather depressing. In the field where Braille is perhaps most exciting and full of possibilities to dramaticly level the playing field between those of us who are blind and those who are not with displays and access to electronic Braille (limiting or all together eliminating Braille's historic space issues) there is a noted coolness towards the code. This is unfortunate to say the least, for one of the best ways to have a full accessible digital lifestyle is to have tactile as well as audible output.

This coolness towards Braille is in part due to the stereotypes stil so easily found about blindness. People wish to be viewed as "normal" and thus they squint and strain at a ten word per minute rate of speed, rather then learn Braille. Even at twenty five or seventy five words per minutes the issue still remains that most can read at one hundred words per minute or more with no strain in Braille. I find a system and indviduals that promote this foolishness of print worship to be misguided at best, and believe they are woefully misinformed on what "normality" consists of (indeed all who have known me for any length of time can atest to my lack there of). I find the fact that in today's environment of openness and change we still have our minorities and stereotypes.

I believe however that if I, who was a anti Braille nutter from high school on, can be converted to the way of Braille there is hope for the most stubbron senior or recalcitrent student out there. I trust that once individuals have a taste of the freedom reading gives one, as opposed to listening all the time to material, they will want more. I hope so at least.

I am planning on wrapping up the display petition in mid to late April. I think this will give it enough time to be signed without transforming from a labor of love to one of pain. I hope it will have some impact on things, though more and more I find myself in the plite of so many geeks, who fall passionately in love with some obscure bit of programming or some sub sub geek culture issue, which when he holds forth to the rest of the world he is stunned to find that the rest of the world doesn't care about his pet project. This has its amusing side to be sure, though I pray it will be many a year before I need the services of a Tech Addicts Anonimus group. Just give me a gallon barrel of straight espresso and some good SAM Net content and I will survive... Hopefully.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Vote Serotek in the Blind Bargains Poll

Vote here for everything Serotek related to give this outstanding company a part of the commendation they deserve for their dedication to quality and service. There are other options of course, but Mike Calvo and Serotek got my votes in every catagory they were offered in. The Victor Reader Stream and the KNFB Reader Mobile also got my vote. Voting ends 1-25, so get yours in today.

Leaving the PAC Mate Behind

Everyone who follows the AT field knows that apdative technology for the blind is extremely overpriced. The only ones who will tell you differently are those who gain the profits from this field. I will gratn that some products are important to the blind, speech output programs being chief among these, and Braille displays being a helpful (if all to unfortunately underused and overpriced) another. I submit however that apart from Serotek these and all other products are far overpriced.

I have always held that as much mainstreaming as possible, in education as well as technology, is best for everyone involved. This is due in part to the social intergration, it adds to acceptance of blind people as normal people who can't see when one uses an iPod or standard mobile phone or laptop as opposed to an odd looking device that looks like it comes fresh from 1970s science fiction.

The other factor is that of the market place. If inovation comes more regularly in the mainstream market (as the article above argues) then everyone, blind and sighted, benefit from such novations. Unfortunately novation is a lost word in the AT field. Apart from the novation of Serotek and the Stream from Humanware, there has been limited or non exsistant. The time is long past for us as blind people to put our money, and that which is used on our behalf by Voc Rehab and others, where our best interests lie, in the mainstream market. As the article notes some adaptive technology is very much needed to make mainstream technology work, but just because it is needed does not mean it needs to be overpriced rubbish. I commend Serotek for its inovation and ask all others in the AT field to think long and hard about how to best meet your client's needs. Will putting them on a device that may fall far behind the mainstream and be overpriced really the best answer? For some it may be yes, but I think for the majority it will be a solid no.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thoughts on Facebook

I have been useing Facebook for about four months now, and I am amazed anew at its usefulness. In addition to keeping up with friends, I can read daily devotionals, fellowship with other believers, send e mail, keep others updated on what I'm up to, and post itneresting articles that I find merit posting. Like anything it can be misused, but I am grateful for an accessible aplication that allows me as a blind person to do so much for FREE. What a blessing.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Serotek Does it Again

"It isn’t just about bridging the gap to employment, which is certainly important. It’s about providing a way for blind people to have fun, to be entertained, and to communicate with the rest of the world without any geographical, social or economic barriers. [...] The blind ghetto discourages mainstream technology companies from making their products accessible. A select group controls the sales to the ghetto and like it that way. The ghetto barriers protect their market share even though those walls can deny their customers access to the riches available to everyone outside the walls. It takes gutsy companies to build and market products that tear down the walls and it is these "disruptive" technologies that excite me."--Full Article

Once again Serotek shows through the above post its dedication to outstanding service, quality product, and most importantly amazing business philosophy. Dealing with the standard AT companies attatude of "good enough for you," it is extremely refreshing to see this company buck the trend and tare down a chunck of the ghetto wall. This attatude is why I plan to switch to System Access screen reader as quickly as possible. Realizing that life for the blind consists of more then 9-5 (while still regonizing that 9-5 is important) is one of the best and rarest qualities of Serotek. I will continue to support them personally and intend to train future students on Serotek's products. Such market oriented quality service needs and deserves to be supported.

Apostle of Light

This clip gives a dramatic depiction of Louis Braille going blind and inventing Braille. Thought considering the celebrations it was a good thing to post.

More bail outs and some plees for common sense

I found this bail out beg from U.S. Steel to be absurd, and expect it to be approved in a nanosecond by the government. On the opposite side I found these plees from the Club for Growth for economic common sense to be refreshing.

Forget superheros who fight greed, we need superheros to fight redistributionists, environmentalists, and social do-gooders who want to take away from the individuals freedom in the name of the "greater good."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Louis Braille

I wish to add a belated but heart felt happy birthday to Mr. Braille, whose bicentennial occured on 1-4 of this year. Celebrations and educational events have already begun and are scheduled to continue throughout the year. I trust and hope this educational push will encourage both the sighted and blind to understand why Braille is not merely important but absolutely necessary for independence.

Happy Birthday Mr. Braille! — $200 discount on our Braille products
Longueuil, January 6th, 2008 — January 4th 2009 marked the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille. Louis Braille is the inventor of the Braille reading and writing system used internationally by people who are blind and visually impaired. It is the only method by which the blind can be truly literate. Statistics show that 85% of employed blind people use Braille to perform part of their job.
HumanWare has been at the forefront of providing award-winning Braille solutions for both students and professionals. HumanWare's BrailleNote note takers are used by thousands of students and professionals who create and access documents and books to be read in Braille. HumanWare offers other Braille solutions from the pocketsize BrailleConnect for use with mobile devices and laptops, several sizes of the Brailliant Braille displays for the workplace, and personal and institutional Braille embossers.

HumanWare will be celebrating this two hundredth anniversary throughout the year with many future announcements. To begin the year with the true spirit, HumanWare is pleased to offer to all of our customers in the Americas a $200 discount on the purchase on any of our Braille products.

HumanWare realizes that much work remains to be done to insure that all blind individuals have an opportunity to learn and use Braille. HumanWare has worked on many initiatives in the past to make Braille more accessible and will vigorously pursue these activities in 2009 and beyond to make illiteracy among the blind a thing of the past.

Campaign tries to teach the benefits of Braille


January 5, 2009 - 2:38PM

Since its invention in the 1820s, Braille has been the key to literacy - and employment - for blind people, according to the National Federation of the Blind.

It's appalling that only 10 percent of blind children in the United States are learning Braille, said Kevan Worley, president of the federation's Colorado Springs chapter.

Nationally, about 70 percent of blind people are unemployed, Worley said. But, he said, more than 80 percent of blind people who have learned Braille are employed.

The federation has launched a Braille literacy campaign as it celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille, the blind Frenchman who invented the Braille alphabet and published it in 1829. Sunday, Worley and other members of the local chapter demonstrated various mechanical and electronic Braille writers at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers on Briargate Boulevard. Similar events took place at about 60 bookstores across the country.

The small Braille machines easily attracted the attention of children visiting the store.

"Kids love to learn about Braille because it's a code," Worley said. Many myths about Braille - that's it's slow and hard to learn or that it can be replaced by audio material - have kept the Braille literacy rate low, he said. Also, there's a shortage of qualified teachers. But perhaps the biggest obstacle is that most blind children have some visual capabilities and are encouraged to use that rather than learn Braille, Worley and others said.

Rene Harrell, who is teaching Braille to her 7-year-old daughter Clare, said: "The default is to use print because people believe it's easier and it's less intimidating."

That might be OK for children's books when there's only a few large-print words on a page, she said, but by the time blind students get to high school they can't keep up with the reading and can't compete for college and jobs.

Harrell said she adopted Clare when she was 4 and at first believed that she could only perceive light. It turned out that Clare has some visual abilities, but they can vary based on the environment and other factors.

"We decided to let Clare use her vision when it's useful and let her learn techniques for when it's not," Harrell said.

Most children learn Braille at about the same rate that seeing children learn to read, Worley said. And it opens a world to them that listening to audio books alone cannot. When he adopted his son, Nijat, from Azerbaijan at age 11, he'd had no Braille training. He was living in a refugee camp and when his sight was lost at age 9, his schooling had stopped.

Nijat said he quickly picked up Braille (and English), learning to read it with Harry Potter books. He graduated last year from Cheyenne Mountain High School and is now a freshman at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Now he teaches his dad how to download the newspaper on the equivalent of a Braille laptop, as well as scanning and downloading his textbooks so that he can read them in Braille.

Contrary to popular belief, adults who lose their sight later in life can learn Braille, too, Worley said.

Rob Lewark, 45, awoke one day in May 2005 and could barely see. His vision was about 80 percent gone, and by January 2006, he was blind because of glaucoma. He'd done a variety of things but in midlife had gone back to school and became an architect. That career was gone, too.

But he learned Braille at the Colorado Center for the Blind in Littleton, and soon was running his own cafe on Peterson Air Force Base.

"There are a lot of things blind people can do," he said. As for the saying "Life's a bitch," Lewark had his comeback tattooed in Braille on his arm: "Let's get this bitch started."

I also have to mention the continuous and tireless work of the National Braille Press. Their quest to provide Braille at prices our sighted counterparts would pay is a praise worthy one.