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IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

4 Jul

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. 
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. 
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: 
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. 
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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Pale Blue Dot

10 Jun

Sagan is timeless.

The #SOTU and Fun With Time Warner Cable

29 Jan

I watched the State of the Union last night but honestly didn’t stick with it all the way to the end. I heard President Obama identify a lot of problems and propose a bunch of solutions, but it’s doubtful that this year will be any better than the previous five, as far as “Washington gets things done” is concerned. Obama threatened to throw his weight around a bit rather than sit back and watch the House Republicans and tea party block, bully, and bullshit, but it doesn’t matter because they still think in their darkest hearts that the President is a “socialist dictator“. (What they really mean is that they have no idea what a “socialist dictator” is.) 

The state of the union is conflicted right now, and it’s because we don’t have a House of Commons anymore, but two Houses of Lords. We’re being led by the noses by a pack of wild millionaires and billionaires, few of whom know or care about real solutions to real problems. Of course, the so-called “tea party” is nothing more than the willing lumpenprole army for monied interests, so we can’t even get “tea party” right. 

What I did at the end of my day yesterday was give myself a raise of $110/month. 

Until yesterday, I had been paying Time Warner Cable almost $200 per month for two DVRs, digital channels, turbo high-speed internet, and HBO. On Facebook, Kevin Purdy wrote about his experience cutting his monthly expenses by, among other things, cutting out cable to its bare minimum. I called Time Warner and discussed with three reps during one call about reducing my monthly bill to under $100. You’d have thought I had called about partitioning Europe or drilling down the details of the Dayton Accords. 

As it was, I yesterday unceremoniously relinquished two DVR units with associated cords and remotes at the Time Warner office downtown. I have retained high-speed internet at about $60/month (it gets cheaper when you add bundles!), and channels 1-22 (which, given the digital signals the TV reads without a cable box, is not precisely accurate). No more 24-hour mind-numbing cable news. No more HBO. No more Travel Channel or Duck Dynasty or Pawn Stars or Storage Wars. I have local channels and a decent internet signal. 

And with that, I pay Hulu Plus about $8.00/month and I pay Netflix another $8.00/month. I have access on Hulu to almost every basic cable show I enjoy (South Park, Daily Show, Colbert), back episodes of Family Guy and the like, and loads of British comedies and series, which I enjoy. 

With the PBS App on my Apple TV, I am well into season 3 of Sherlock, which WNED has put on hold until February. With Vevo the kids and I can watch actual music videos. With iTunes, I can buy or rent movies that the streaming services don’t have. But they have a lot. If I have a hankering for 24-hour news, Apple TV has Sky from the UK. If I need the Weather Channel, it’s on Apple TV. Hulu has Spongebob for the kids, and I’ve been binge-watching Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look on Netflix and Hulu, respectively. 

Channels “1-22” costs about $19/month. If I wanted some of basic cable, (channels 23 – 98) I’d need to rent a box and pay another $56/month. That’s ok. 

$110 in my pocket every month is well worth it.  Now, if only I could bump my unlimited family plan for 3 smartphones and 6 GB of data down from the $220/month it is now. 

LandEscapes Kickstarter

20 Aug

Colleen Wall Darby calls herself an “inspirational artist”. She is taking some time out from her job to brighten the walls of medical clinics and hospitals, and the lives of people confined to a hospital bed

Born and raised in Buffalo, Darby spent the majority of her career working in the advertising field. In 2008, she became an artist in residence in a new arts in healthcare initiative created by the Center for the Arts at the University at Buffalo. She worked for three years at Women’s & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. The goal of her work was to help patients and family members escape from the stress of a hospital stay by using the power of their imaginations.

Darby says that this creative meditative state promotes healing, and she has set up a Kickstarter campaign to bring her talents to a wider audience. Called the “LandEscape” painting series, Darby says it will offer patients an escape from their environment through their imagination.

Darby is raising $10,000 to take a monthlong sabbatical, and create twenty inspirational landscape paintings specifically for the healthcare environment.  She is committed to getting these paintings installed in exam rooms, infusion units and waiting rooms, because  these are places where patients are uncomfortable and nervous. The paintings will offer patients and their families an escape from the sterile, cold medical environment. LandEscapes will depict views of more inviting places. They will include a road or a path to draw the viewer in, and the canvas will be filled with positive uplifting messages.

Check it out and consider a donation to Darby’s Kickstarter campaign to brighten the lives of people undergoing medical crises. It’s already almost fully funded as of Tuesday morning, and there are some great incentives available depending on your level of donation. 

Yahoo CFO to speak at Z80 Labs

25 Mar

z80

Continuing with their speaker series that has included Fred Wilson, Chris Sacca, and Woody Benson; Z80 Labs of Buffalo has announced their next visitor to the local startup incubator : Yahoo! CFO, Ken Goldman.

Ken Goldman is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Yahoo!. In this role, he is responsible for Yahoo!’s global finance functions including financial planning and analysis, controllership, tax, treasury, and investor relations. 

Ken brings more than 30 years of experience in financial, operational and business management to Yahoo!. Most recently, he was CFO of Fortinet, a provider of threat management technologies. Ken spent nearly six years as senior vice president of finance and administration and CFO of Siebel Systems and has held CFO positions at several technology companies in his career, including Excite@Home, Sybase, Cypress Semiconductor and VLSI Technology.

Ken currently serves on the board of directors of Infinera Inc. and NXP Semiconductor, as well as the board of trustees of Cornell University. He has been named among “America’s 15 Most Connected Capitalists” by Forbesmagazine. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a MBA from Harvard Business School.

The event will take place at Z80 Labs (1 News Plaza, Buffalo, NY 14203) from 2pm-3pm on March 27th.  Ken will give some insight on key things that are important for startups, especially when they begin pitching to investors. There will be an interview conducted by Martin Babinec of Upstate Venture Connect and a Q&A session following the presentation.

RSVP: http://z80kengoldman.eventbrite.com

Please note that seating for this event is very limited; registration via Eventbrite is necessary to attend.

Some background on Z80 Labs:

Tonight: Colon Cancer Alliance Blue Bash

21 Mar

Tonight from 6 – 8:30pm, please join the Colon Cancer Alliance at to kick off the 2nd Annual Buffalo Undy 5,000 at Artisan Kitchen & Baths at 200 Amherst Street.

Attendees can sign up for the race, set to take place in Delaware Park on April 27th, learn more about the Colon Cancer Alliance’s efforts to increase awareness of this disease, win prizes, and check out the Boxer Beauty Contest. 

As many of you know from this post last week, my wife is a colon cancer survivor, and we are so grateful for all your support in helping to combat this deadly but preventable disease. 

 

#Winning

21 Mar

In today’s Artvoice, Geoff Kelly takes up issues he has with the Buffalo News’ recent rankings of influence. You can read the whole thing here.

Artvoice sent out a similar questionnaire about influence this week. One thing that I will forever carry as a point of pride is Carl Paladino’s response as follows: 

2. What people/ideas/circumstances do you consider negative influences in this region?

The Lipsey boys. The Buffalo Board of Ed, complacency, acceptance of failure and mediocrity, Geoff Kelley, Fisher, Bedenko and the rest of the Artvoice barnyard of assholes.

Thank you, Mr. Paladino. The feeling re: regional negative influences is mutual.

One thing’s for sure – this came from an expert. I feel like this is a knighthood or an OBE – something you proudly put on your resume or LinkedIn profile. Carl Paladino knows a lot about assholes. And barnyards.

The 2013 Undy 5000

15 Mar

I seldom write about my personal life, and when I do I keep it as vague and general as possible. You’ll forgive me for making an exception today, but it has to do not with me, but with all of you. 

Back in October, my wife’s gynecologist Dr. Judith Ortman-Nabi advised her to undergo a colonoscopy due to a significant family history of colon cancer. Usually, people aren’t prescribed colonoscopies until the age of 50, which we haven’t yet reached. She went to the endoscopy center on Maple near Millersport. It wasn’t an uncomfortable procedure, but the sedation knocks you out for a day. Bad news – they found a polyp; devastating news – it was cancerous.

That commenced a particularly scary and difficult time. We had to find an oncologist. We had to find a surgeon. My wife returned to the endoscopy clinic, where they tattooed the area so a future surgeon would know from where the polyp had been removed. The area “looked clean” but we didn’t want to take the chance that it hadn’t all been caught. We were exceedingly lucky to discover Dr. Timothy Adams, a talented, young, and friendly surgeon who performs laparoscopically-assisted colon resection surgeries. 

In mid-November, my wife underwent a successful resection surgery and we were overjoyed to find out that the section removed contained no cancer, and the bundle of lymph nodes that were removed along with it showed that the cancer had not spread. We had found it early – had we waited another year or until we were 50, the result would have been tragically different. Just this week, her oncologist, Dr. Frederick Hong, confirmed that all her bloodwork was normal. 

Catching this early was the difference between a full and curative recovery, and something far worse. Just this week, Simpson’s co-creator Sam Simon revealed that he was diagnosed with colon cancer, but he hadn’t caught it in time.  It had metastasized throughout his body, and he is told that he has months to live

I am writing this because my wife is now committed to helping raise money for the Colon Cancer Alliance.  On April 27th the 2013 Buffalo “Undy 5000” will be run in Delaware Park, and she and my older daughter will take part. She is raising money for colon cancer research via this page, and if I’ve ever made you think, laugh, or angry via this blog, I humbly ask you to donate whatever you can – however small. Your donation is 100% tax deductible. If you don’t or can’t, I understand, but I urge you to take colon cancer seriously. If caught early through a colonoscopy, it could be the difference between life and death. Here’s where the money that’s raised will go – to advocate, to promote and to expand access to screening, to educate, and for cancer research. 

Every day is a gift. Thanks for reading and for considering this. 

The Dollar Coin

5 Feb

George-Washington-Presidential-Dollar-CoinCanada long ago abandoned its dollar bill and now has Loonies and Toonies instead. It’s easier to buy a soda from a vending machine or feed a meter with coins in larger denominations than a Quarter. Our neighbors across the river are now in the process of eliminating a coin – the penny is being phased out of circulation in Canada, and transactions will hitherto be rounded up or down, as appropriate.  In Canada, it costs 1.6 cents to make each penny, so money will be saved. 

Here in the US, recent efforts to introduce dollar coins (Susan B. Anthony, Sacajawea) have failed because we did not concomitantly withdraw dollar bills from circulation. The Dollar Coin Alliance argues that doing so would save the government billions. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded

We estimate that replacing the $1 note with a $1 coin would provide a net benefit to the government of approximately $5.5 billion over 30 years, amounting to an average yearly discounted net benefit of about $184 million. However, this benefit would not be achieved evenly over the 30 years. In fact, as shown in figure 3, the federal government would incur a net loss during the first 4 years. Yearly net benefits begin to accrue in the fifth year of our analysis, and in the tenth year (2020), the initial start-up costs are paid back and overall net benefits begin to accrue.

And that estimate might be low. Consider, 

In 1985, for example, the Canadian House of Commons estimated that the conversion to a $1 coin would save the government $175 million (Canadian) in total over 20 years because it would no longer have to regularly replace worn out $1 notes. Canadian officials later determined that the Canadian government saved $450 million (Canadian) between 1987 and 1991.

Dollar bills have a short shelf life – they remain in circulation for about 22 months before they are shredded and recycled or sent to landfills. Coins can be melted down and recycled indefinitely. Dollar coins don’t jam in the vending machine. The GAO has recommended this switch consistently for 22 years, and Washington hasn’t yet gotten with the program.  

Eliminating dollar bills and pennies would save billions and reflect economic reality; we don’t have 5-and-dimes anymore. 

An extremely simple step that would save the government billions of dollars at no additional cost. The only question is why it hasn’t been done already.  Write your Federal Representatives via this link.

 

Learn Something New, Meet Some People, Be Social at BarCamp Buffalo

30 Jan

Building a regional culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity requires more than capital, it requires a community of like-minded people to foster ideas. To that end, Buffalo’s burgeoning startup and creative technology movement takes another step forward this weekend as members of the tech community will spend Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at Medaille College. Not to take classes, but to teach them, to each other.  BarCamp Buffalo, a collaborative “un-conference,” gives everybody a chance to teach a session or a “lightning talk” about their work, their hobby, or their esoteric knowledge.

Buffalo-BarCamp

BarCamp Buffalo is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees. No spectators, only participants. All attendees should give a demo, a session, or help with one, or at least strive to meet a few new people. Anyone with something to contribute or with the desire to learn is welcome and invited to join.

In the past, the standard 10-15 minute presentations have covered topics as varied as community journalism, homebrewing, search engine optimization, and programming code. In other words, there’s usually something for everyone. And if there isn’t? Sign up and give a presentation on a topic of your choice.

BarCampBuffalo by Jennifer WOzniak, local writer, web designer and marketing professional in Buffalo

Photo Courtesy of http://jwoz74.com

Steve Poland, one of the event organizers wrote the following on the Buffalo Open Coffee Club Google Group, “The goal of BarCamp is to teach others something, expose them to something, hate something you’re passionate about or been learning yourself, or a project or startup or app you have been working on, etc.  Let others get to know you. You may find others are just as excited as you are.”

Registration is free, and the first 100 registrants at BarCampBuffalo.org receive a free event T-shirt.  Breakfast, lunch, and beverages will be provided for all in attendance, barring overcapacity crowds.  If you attended a prior BarCamp Buffalo, we lacked space and had altered the format — expect the real deal now that we have lots of space (30-min presentations, multiple presentations in different rooms at every moment to give you greater choices).

Follow @BarCampBuffalo on Twitter for more real-time updates about the events. Also check out BarCampBuffalo on Facebook to get updates on future BarCamp events.

Event Details:

BarCamp Buffalo #6

BarCamp Buffalo is February 2nd, 2013 at Medaille College with 5 classrooms for 5 tracks of talks going on all at once. 30 mins each. If you’ve ever been to Rochester’s BarCamp, this will be just like it.

8:00 am: Doors open! Breakfast and registration
9:00 am: Welcome and Intro’s
9:30 am: Talks begin!
5:00 pm: Wrap up and meetup for after party

Parking
When entering Medaille College’s main entrance, follow the signs with balloons on them. You’ll turn left when you enter, and it’ll circle you clockwise around the buildings to the back. Plenty of parking available, look for the balloons for the door entrance.