Special Bulletin: manchicken is a New Daddy

During UDS-Sevilla in May of 2007 I learned that my wife was pregnant. Many Ubunteros were with me to celebrate in person, and even more to celebrate in spirit. Many friends and family members, neighbors and acquaintances have wished us well and have joined us in hoping and praying for a healthy and happy baby.
I am delighted to report that these hopes have been realized and these prayers have been answered. On Tuesday, the 15th of January, my beautiful wife gave birth to our first born child. Our new son is named Michael D. Stemle, III, after his grand-father and father. He weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds, 14 ounces, and is healthy as can be. We’re delighted to have our son with us after the long wait.
My wife and I would like to extend a very special thanks to all of you who celebrated with and encouraged us.
Now, for the obligatory baby photos (more to come).

Badger looking at daddy

The Hipocracy of the Wal-Mart Haters…

So, I’ve got a little rant for all of the big box retail haters out there.  Do you visit Starbucks?  How about McDonalds or Burger King?  What about software, do you use Windows or MacOS?  Have you purchased a Dell or an HP or a Mac?  Do you have an iPod or a wireless phone?  Do you listen to the Black-Eyed Peas, or Destiny’s Child, or any number of other pop artists?  How can you possibly criticize Wal-Mart and put yourself on some sort of ethical pedestal when you’re doing any of these things?
Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, and many other food service corporations have been under-paying their workers much worse for a much longer period of time than any big-box store ever has.  These companies have damaged our health with trans-fats and high-fat foods, they’ve damaged our culture by forcing smaller restaurants and coffee shops and burger joints out of business, and they’ve drained our local economies by taking the money we spend at their establishments and moving it back to the hometown of their local establishments.
Microsoft and Apple have not only been forcing other companies out of business, but they’ve been hiring foreign workers for the sole purpose of paying them below market wages.  They’ve also been spending millions on figuring out how to restrict what you can do with what you purchase more effectively, and with fewer possibilities that you’ll be able to work around it.
iPod, along with every phone manufacturer have released heavy-metal laden phones that are 100% proprietary devices that lock you in for years.   Your iPod is designed to only work with iTunes–though some have figured out how to reverse-engineer that–and your wireless phones are locked to their carriers.  If you’re a Verizon Wireless customer than you’re even actively funding a campaign that VZW has under-taken to undermine the FCC’s push to free networks, specifically with respect to the new bandwidth that is being auctioned off.  AT&T has actually been implicated–and is currently seeking congressional protection from prosecution and civil litigation–in illegal wire-taps that violate your constitutional rights, yet folks are gobbling up the iPhone like there’s no tomorrow.
Popular music is destroying our culture by manufacturing “artists” who produce music that the record companies think will be profitable.  The incidence of actual artists being discovered and making it big in the recording industry is become less and less common.  Disney has manufactured dozens of “artists” that we now revere as highly talented… but are nothing more than a factory working punching the proper product codes into the machines on the production line.  These recording companies have also been suing consumers left and right for using the media that they purchased in a way that they want to.  They’ve been getting college campuses to have mandatory courses on not sharing with your friends, and have spent billions trying to tell you that sharing is really stealing… all funded by state and federal tax dollars.
So, to me, Wal-Mart sounds pretty damned good by comparison.  I’m not one to justify one group’s bad behavior by pointing out the bad behavior of others, but it seems like some folks have forgotten about consistency.  I understand that sometimes it’s important to pick on the politically unpopular bad guys more than the popular bad guys when you’re trying to pass yourself off as a pinko “non-conformist” moron, and that’s okay.  But I don’t want to hear a damned thing from one of you jerk-offs next time I tell you that my mother-in-law found me a really sweet wok at Wal-Mart.
I also don’t want to hear you all crying about religions being inconsistent.  If you idiots can’t figure out how to be consistent in something as simple as where you shop, I don’t think you have any business criticizing the consistency of something much more complicated like religion or politics.