Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Sort of a poem: Hope

Old empty husks of dazzling fate. Courage replaced by utter harmony. Cages made of all-we-can-handle-today. It just seemed recently that the dream died and was replaced by so much reality it killed hope. What happened to you can do anything you put your mind to? What happened to being available to miracles? Seems so much of adulthood has crushed possibility. But then I don't think hope was working so well on its own. Sort of delusional. Maybe there is a way to bring it back just a little.

Corporate abuse

First net neutrality and then the Senate reconsiders corporate wiretap immunity?  Perhaps an attack on corporate personhood and privacy?  I look forward to seeing where this goes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Among us, one of the greats

Whether or not he was the greatest, he's certainly important. It staggers the imagination to think that one man's work might have saved a billion lives.

More info (and image) from Wikipedia.

Related: Pen and Teller pay tribute.

Net neutrality comes

Very happy to see this and expect it will be a lasting and positive legacy of the Obama administration.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fear sells

An excellent article on Glenn Beck covers both the state of American politics, the divided state, and a profitable way to play to your audience.  He's not the only one following this model, he's just the best at it.  We can all learn from the way he and others like him both Right and Left love and celebrate America by calling whoever is not on their team a bunch of toxic dirtbags. 

Beck and the other kids want you to know that whatever team you're on, the other team represents all that is wrong/delusional/evil.  [Please buy my book.]

If you enjoy group think and polarization, be sure to participate in this process and remember that those other people are just crazy.

Note: I apologize for referencing an article with with a question for a headline.  As pointed out by John Stewart, they are frequently editorial embellishment and/or poor journalism.

How to feel like crap all the time

In the same tradition as the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, How to be Depressed.

The latest version of everything

PC World reports: Unpatched Applications Are #1 Cyber Security Risk

So update your PC (Sumo) or Mac (AppFresh). Its worth the trouble: you'll also get more features and your stuff will generally crash less.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

David Lynch hates everything

An outstanding director talks about his clear distaste for

Friday, September 11, 2009

Health care public option conversation

On the topic of healthcare reform, a wise friend of mine pointed out the following (paraphrasing):

"The so called "public" option has no competition, no profit incentive, and therefore, no incentive to be *efficient*. Ergo, its cost to run will keep escalating, as demand escalates, and all the while the actual supply side of the healthcare economic equation remains stagnant, further compounding prices. To offset the problem, government will throw more money at it, causing higher taxes and another recession, which will be offset by printing more money, thus weakening the dollar and losing more foreign investment in the US. Better solution: stimulate growth and competition in healthcare supply markets (i.e. supplies, equipment, services) and limit "public option" participation to those who can prove they don't make enough to become insured on their own."

While in principle, the profit and competition motive should drive better services like computers, cars, and more, it's not working with health care.  As I understand it, profit-driven health care is the problem, not the solution.  Where the profit motive in other industries drives innovation, the motive here is to deny service at the time of greatest need, as that means the greatest profit.

Thus, a public option seems more viable and the analysis is whether this waste is an acceptable failure level to justify the public good.  This could be compared to the publicly funded police and education systems: they are wasteful, but necessary to maintain the peace and keep America competitive.  When family members get sick without treatment, that doesn't maintain the peace or make us more competitive.

(Responses welcome.)

Note: some of these ideas come from an essay by Bill Maher touching on the public option.


Something that really tests the limit of free speech versus defamation, but with what should be a sound satirical point:
  1. Glenn Beck makes accusations about Obama's citizenship with no evidence.
  2. An openly offensive website makes accusations about Glenn Beck with no evidence.
Therefore Glenn Beck has no claim against a political wedge is being used against him.

Unfortunately for the site operator, he should have chosen someone else to make this point with, since Beck has come out against this particular issue. Beck is no stranger to conspiracy theories, but the "Birthers" aren't one of them.

Lou Dobbs is probably a better target for this type of edgy, biting satire.

(Thanks Wes.)

Update: John Stewart runs this satire a lot better:
"I have no reason to believe that Congressman Campbell (who co-sponsored Birther-related legislation) spends his time surreptitiously giving out dollar tug jobs at a local rest stop."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Personal recorders don't cover your ass

Although I don't want people tapping my phone, I want to be able to walk into situations where someone is acting in an unlawful way and be able to prove later in court I'm not the bad guy. A recent asinine court case says this not only isn't okay, but sets a scary precedent that your iPhone is illegal.

What is legal in Massachusetts might differ from your state, but from my basic understanding of wiretapping laws, this sounds accurate. A conversation between yourself and one other person is one issue, but if you pick up a conversation between two other people in a not-exactly-public space, you could land in legal hot water. This case seems to take it a step further, making it possible for a cop to make your life harder merely for:

... "possession of a wiretapping device." Yikes. Even my iPhone has a voice recorder feature built in. I'm in possession of such a device any time I step out in public.

The only solution seems to be make the recorder as inconspicuous as possible in the hopes that it will be overlooked, or deal with people exclusively over the phone.

Image credit.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cash injection not a cure

Western society seems to worship youth, money, and beauty, but it won't surprise anyone that a 16 year old, beautiful, sudden millionaire didn't turn out well.

While the importance the lottery plays in the hopes and dreams of people who are on the bottom is noted, this outcome isn't unique or restricted to the young. If you've seen some of the people hurt by gambling, there's danger both on the effort to win as well as after you actually succeed.

While it seems like a lose-lose scenario, it would be silly to suggest that this is a reason to embrace poverty, but the clear lesson here is if you run into a lot of money, go in with more than a simple plan.

Image credit.

If the devil's in the details, Apple's quite evil

Not everything works with Snow Leopard yet, but there's a plethora of small changes. Still, Mac users should obviously wait a few months for things to get ironed out on the compatibility side.

Its nice to see operating system developers focusing on what's under the hood instead of making users turn off all the seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time "features" (like in Vista and XP). To be fair, one feature I could do without on the Mac is Dashboard.

Facebook's continuing saga of bad policy

You may have heard about Facebook's stupid idea to own everything always and forever, and then efforts to recant on that. Well, behind the scenes it was already a mess. Although a spokesman claims there are efforts being made to address this (scroll to end of article -- thanks Mark), it looks like Facebook won't be unifying your social network without putting you in some amount of danger. Remember, the TOS requires you use your real name and as anybody who's looked at identity theft, its probably much easier to target a Facebook user.

Why Google Chrome?

Recent news has Google Chrome in the news including how its not gaining any traction, but I have no idea why anyone would use this software when a privacy-enhanced version Iron (Windows only) is available. Its fast, works fine, skinnable, and without all the creepy garbage from Google Inc.

This reminds me of when Netscape tried to take Firefox and integrate it into their browser without realizing the lighter and less corporate Firefox was just better.