Web site navigation buttons

I’ve been trying to figure out why my site has not been crawled lately. I found an interesting article online from Metamorphosis Studio Design that explains it. My site uses a Server Side Include (SSI) for the navigation bar that you find on the left. Using this makes it easy for me to make changes to the navigation menu in one spot instead of on every single page. FrontPage handled this differently in a proprietary manner, so I never needed to know about SSI until recently. One of the goals of the new site was to use open standards so future migration would not become a major issue (such as moving from FrontPage to Dreamweaver). Unfortunately, using SSI for navigation buttons makes it difficult for web spiders to crawl a site.

The solution to my web crawling issue requires me to use static hyperlinks instead of an SSI for the home page navigation bar. So, I’ve made that change, which wasn’t too difficult. If this method works, then I might be able to place the Google search function back on the search page (although I might need to come up with an internal search function when I start using PHP).

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to look at PHP or MySQL. I’m trying to learn the basics of Microsoft Project and Visio, as well as general database design and such. I think I have an idea of how to structure my database when I create it on MySQL, but that’s just a basic conceptualization right now.

Metamorphosis Studio Design article: How to Easily Create a Search-Engine Friendly Navigation Menu For Your Website

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Legislative majority wrong about eminent domain

The Dane County Circuit Court dismissed a lawsuit involving the City of Madison and the business community. Madison passed an ordinance raising the minimum wage from $5.15/hour to $5.70/hour initially with increases to $7.75/hour by January 1, 2008. The Madison business community disliked the idea, so they filed a lawsuit to reverse the ordinance. That suit was dismissed on Thursday.

So the Wisconsin Legislature’s Republican leadership wants to pass a law that would reverse the minimum wage as well as the smoking ban in all workplaces (including taverns) that takes effect on July 1. Instead of dealing with statewide issues, they are micro-managing. Madison continues to be progressive, and that seems to bother the conservatives downtown. These “concerned” legislators seem to play like two-faced dogs. When Congress passes an unfunded mandate to the states, the other levels of government are ill-prepared to deal with them. Wisconsin’s legislative majority is doing the same thing to counties and municipalities. In that respect, Wisconsin’s legislative majority is really not much different from Congress.

Madison’s minimum wage law is so progressive that the City of Milwaukee passed a similar ordinance and the City of La Crosse is considering it. By raising the minimum wage, two things occur. First, those that make minimum wage earn more money, which could raise morale and productivity (well, theoretically). Second, increased income will allow workers to either put the added money in a savings account (it could happen) or spend it; either way, the economy benefits. When the economy benefits, society benefits. Businesses also benefit because more people can purchase goods or services from them.

Let’s face it; the cost of gasoline is driving the prices of so many of our goods up. It’s difficult for some people to live on $5.15/hour, a wage that was set over six years ago. At least with a wage increase, workers can put gas in the car and drive to work. When they show up to work, they’re either making a product, selling it, or offering some service. Businesses cannot do this without people, especially if they cannot fill their gas tanks.

Finally, the legislative minority and the Governor have been calling for the majority to act on the bill that would increase the minimum wage throughout the state. Yet the Republican majority is busier dealing with issues that are petty, stupid, and discriminatory. They are too busy playing the blame game instead of dealing with the important issues head-on. It’s time for them to step up, accept what’s happening, and deal with some real issues.

The other side of the argument is that many businesses already pay well above minimum wage, even the proposed rates. But there are those few that do not play fairly with their employees. Furthermore, if many businesses already pay more than the proposed minimum wage, why is there so much opposition?

I know I hoped that I would never put politics on this site, but lately it just seems like politics is difficult to ignore.

Wisconsin State Journal article: Judge sides with city on wage law

Stem cells and cloning

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) offers some very interesting programming when you can’t find much else on television (I know I should be reading a book, but oh well). What interested me, though, was Nova addressed the issue of using embryonic stem cells to save lives. Embryonic stem cells may provide a life-saving possibility to many people with terminal illnesses or debilitating diseases. But there are many people that believe that using embryonic stem cells is unethical, believing that it involves destroying one life to save another life.

The truth is that embryonic stem cells used in medical research do not derive from an aborted embryo. Instead, the process involves an unfertilized egg cell (that’s unfertilized with an “un.”) The unfertilized cell’s nuclear material is removed. Next, a donor cell’s nucleus is injected into the egg cell; this nucleus would come from the person who is suffering from a terminal illness (maybe a skin cell or some other non-invasive cell that contains the person’s DNA). The modified cell then receives a stimulus (either chemical or electrical) to start the reproductive process of cell division (I hope you remember your grade school biology). This structure is termed an “embryo.” This seems to be where some confusion occurs. Please note that, according to Nova, the “embryo” did not involve abortion, as most people are led to believe. The cell grows and develops into a blastocyst in a few days. This essentially becomes a “fertilized egg.” However, it grows in a tissue-culture dish. This will continue to grow, and it can be manipulated into specific organ tissues. However, this “fertilized egg” will not grow up to be a full human being; it would need to be implanted in a uterus.

Many would argue that scientists have been researching stem cells for years, and yet progress has been extremely slow. One of the biggest issues is using stem cells to create organs that a sick person’s body would not reject. Today many chemicals are used to prevent this, but they are strong, they weaken the immune system, and they don’t always work. A cloned organ could replace a diseased one without the use of strong chemicals. Furthermore, there is a large difference between “therapeutic cloning” and “human cloning.” What I’m writing about is therapeutic cloning, or cloning stem cells to recreate tissue to replace faulty or diseased tissue in a person. Human cloning, on the other hand, is the stuff that resembles science fiction, or even Dolly the cloned sheep. But those that argue that stem cell research has taken too long and has resulted in very little seem to forget that results don’t always come immediately. For centuries, people believed in bloodletting. It took millennia for the civilized world to realize that small organisms called bacteria caused a number of diseases. Even then, there were many skeptics that disbelieved this. Even if these little organisms existed, others asked how we would be able to treat a person infected with them. Then Penicillin was discovered. Today, there is overwhelming evidence that those skeptics were wrong. Today, we use essentially the same technology that we used 30 years ago to treat cancer. If a new, much more effective method of treating cancer came from using stem cells, why would we reject it.

Finally, I just want to point out that there are real human lives with real experiences and talents that could be affected by this research. Even the family of a former Republican president (Ronald Reagan) spoke out in favor of stem cell research, as did celebrities like the Michael J. Fox and the late Christopher Reeve.

Our society has been involved in a number of unethical activities, yet we often don’t realize that we’ve committed immoral actions until much later. Unlike many of those events, stem cell research could provide a second lease on life for many people. They at least deserve to have a little hope.

PBS – Nova Science Now: Stem Cells article

There was more to Pope John Paul II than just religion

 

 

The local Freedom from Religion Foundation chapter is upset because Governor Doyle ordered the state and US flags to be flown at half-mast for the week in honor of the passing of Karol Wojtylawas, or better known as Pope John Paul II. The Foundation asserts that this is blatantly a case of religious preference. It shows that the State is endorsing one particular religion over another. I disagree with that argument. The late Pope John Paul II was a crusader.

Unlike other “crusaders” such as those that date back to the middle ages, the Pope spoke out against tyranny anywhere in the world and for liberty for all people, Roman Catholic or otherwise. Furthermore, he was the first pope in over 2,000 years to mend ties with other religions, including the Lutheran and Greek Orthodox churches. Finally, he showed that he was a world citizen by defending his own beliefs and the beliefs of others. When major world leaders were talking about war (for example, the US and UK invasion of Iraq), the Pope spoke out against it and continued to condemn it until his death last week.

Because Pope John Paul II accomplished so much for so many people, I don’t see the flags flying at half-mast as a sign of religious endorsement or to commemorate the death of a religious leader. I perceive it to signify the peaceful efforts of one of the world’s greatest leaders. The Pope deserves the recognition he is receiving, and I don’t think Governor Doyle should back off from his decision.

For those of you keeping track, I was raised Catholic, but I’ve turned away from religion in the past couple of years. I do not consider myself as religious, and I disagreed with the Pope’s position on a number of issues. But I still respect him for being the leader he was: strong, charismatic, and principle-oriented. He struggled hard for the betterment of the world’s citizens and made considerable strides through peaceful means towards that end. I dedicate today’s blog to the life work of Karol Wojtylawas/Pope John Paul II.

Wisconsin State Journal article: Half-staff flags for pope questioned

More guns doesn’t resolve the problems

I am truly saddened when I hear about any kind of violent crime that leaves people either dead or injured. I feel sorry for the folks that were gunned down during church service in Brookfield, Wisconsin, a couple of weeks ago.

But I really doubt that the violence would have been prevented or minimized if any of the victims had a gun. Death is death, plain and simple, and even one death is too many in my book. Even if Ratzmann had to face an armed victim, how would that victim know what was happening until after Ratzmann started shooting people? By then, the person would need time to react, pull out his or her concealed weapon, and take action if Ratzmann hadn’t gunned that person down.

Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher, running for Wisconsin’s Attorney General, stated that he supports a concealed carry law. He claims that it would level the playing field. I see a huge flaw in his thinking.

Here’s a case-in-point: In December 2004, Damageplan was playing in a small Ohio club when Nathan Gale, a devoted Pantera fan (Darrell’s former band), opened fire on the band and audience. Darrell died on the scene with three others before Gale was shot down by an off-duty police officer that was attending the concert. My point is that even a fully-trained and legally armed professional cannot prevent the kind of carnage that we’ve seen lately. What makes Bucher think that a citizen with a concealed weapon could do better?

I don’t believe that anyone can truly predict who will initiate this kind of violence. According to Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Laurel Walker, “And come to think of it, Terry Ratzmann… seemed to be the very definition of law-abiding. At least, until the moment he snapped and shot seven people, then himself, during church services at a Brookfield hotel last month.” Even if one person at the service had a gun, that person still wouldn’t have had any time to see Ratzmann come in, pull out a weapon, and shoot his first victim.

JS article: Bucher says he favors concealed weapons

JS column: Bucher takes stand on guns, sort of

MSNBC: Metal world mourns death of “Dimebag” Darrell

It’s Election Day again

I am amazed at how a majority of the people turn out for national elections, yet they seem to scoff at local elections. Tomorrow is Election Day in Wisconsin, and a few of us will turn out to vote for alderpersons and school district representatives. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I always wonder why so many people do not turn out for local elections when it is local levels of government that affect our everyday lives more than national government. For example, when was the last time that the EPA’s ozone ban had a strong effect on anyone? Now when was the last time a school zone was enforced? I guess people do not realize the stakes that are involved when they decide whether to vote or not. I know that I’ll vote tomorrow, because I want my neighborhood to have the best possible representation for which I can possibly vote. I’m glad that I’ve been able to watch and read some news coverage on these local elections.

The sheer stupidity of animal rights’ activists

Peter Young was arrested for shoplifting and presenting false identification to police. He was also accused of releasing about 8,000 mink across three states in 1998 (that’s also theft). Now he sits in a Santa Clara jail awaiting trial. The jail has not been providing him with the meals that accommodate his vegan diet, and he refused to take a tuberculosis test because it contains animal products.

Well, if this shrub thinks he’ll be some kind of martyr, let’s look at the reality of it all. First, animal rights’ activists don’t think things through; instead, they act on their emotions. By releasing domesticated mink into the wilderness, Young has created one of two potential problems for the ecosystem.

The ecosystem in Wisconsin is not designed to support mink. It’s likely that they will destroy the ecosystem, especially if they breed (and mink are known for breeding). On the other hand, since the mink released were domesticated, they are likely unable to defend themselves in the wild. Many will certainly die a more violent death at the hands of predators than a humane one they would have faced on a farm.

I’ll admit that I dislike the killing of animals for fur. It’s sad that we allow it to happen, and I certainly do not support such an act. But by pissing off others, animal rights’ activists continue to undermine their own credibility and show the rest of us just how stupid they really are.

Additionally, Mr. Young was arrested for committing a crime. He should be punished aptly, so I don’t have any sympathy for him. I will call the Santa Clara jail and tell them that they’re right. It’s not about ethics; it’s all about the stupidity of animal rights’ activists. For further research, please see the movie “28 Days Later.” It may be a bit extreme, but I think it sends the right message.

Journal-Sentinel article: Man wanted in mink farm attacks caught