thinking about the world differently . . .
January 8th, 2017

Respect

Sean Spicer, the spokesperson for president-elect Trump, complained that the media does not accord DJT with the respect he deserves.

Pardon me, I always thought respect is something you work for, earn. That is is not something you get because of your genetics, good looks, or haircut… Apparently, along with other norms of this society, that respect earning bit is also flipped over on its head.

Along with this “good morning message” in the news, came the realization that indeed this reaction is just that bump in the rug that scurries around lookinh for an outlet, the problem is much deeper. Rob Goodman wrote this excellent article titled “What the King of Hawaii Can Teach Us About Trump – A political fable from 1819.

It explains the fate of norms. While it will not make you feel fuzzily relieved, you will understand where things are, where they could be, and outline a way for each of us to move forward and to imprint of ourselves anf our norms on the upcoming “new order” in the world. An important message…

November 28th, 2015

As a society, can we afford this welfare?

We hear much whining about people getting money from the government and doing nothing, just sit around and watch TV, and have more kids. You know the talk about “welfare queens”…

Here are some statistics and hard pieces of information to tuck into your belt, so next time you hear the “welfare queen” talk, you can yank out this material and whine right back…

question-who is the welfare queen

The sources for this infographic are The Tax Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice.

November 28th, 2014

How democracy is practiced in most of the world

One of the mechanisms of democracy that facilitates representation of The People in the decision making process is “representative government” or “representative democracy”. All western democracies in the world today include this mechanism. In this scheme of governance, people select representatives which in turn represent the will of the people who elected them in the legislative body of the government. This is how it is SUPPOSED to work, but we all have witnessed various degrees of degradations of this mechanism and its distortions to suit other power centers. For example, we see the injection of large monies into the elective and legislative process, which lends the entities behind the money undue political influence. The Supreme Court of the USA established recently that corporations – inanimate entities created by humans – are endowed with “personhoods” and thus have certain rights as natural humans have, although not some of the obligations and burdens humans have (such as going to jail for legal transgressions!)

One of the themes of yesterday’s Thanksgiving celebrations in the USA and Canada was to give thanks for the freedom to live in a free country, elect political leaders and so on.

Wiley Miller is the artist behind the cartoon strip Non Sequitur. His view on our form of “representative government” is summarized in his strip for today which you can view online here:

nq141128

Let’s think over our “blessings”, be more thoughtfully critical of what they really are, and consider the adjustments to be made to accomplish true representation of people, and less of the “personhoods” of corpocracy and their oligarchic paymasters.

March 20th, 2014

Arrogant US Senator

Knows it all, Sen. Burr. When he is confronted by eloquently presented facts that refute him, he slithers around, slides around the questions and the facts, and goes on like he is still right! Can you spell n-a-r-c-i-s-s-i-s-t?

Watch the video below.

March 18th, 2014

Naked Aggression

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Pat Bagley is a liberal American editorial cartoonist and journalist for The Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City, Utah, and an author and illustrator of several books.

Mr. Bagley (@Patbagley on Twitter) published the following on Twitter. I think he nailed it , huh?

naked aggression
January 23rd, 2014

NSA, Presidency’s Power Grab – Going Rogue?

On the last day of 2013 I moved to a new home – the NSA undoubtedly has the detailed “metadata” on that move! 🙂 – and the preparation time before and unwinding of it all after the move are my excuse for not posting for awhile.

It is quite disturbing that repeatedly now, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board1, produced a report that criticizes the NSA’s collection of indiscriminate data which includes information on American Citizens in violation of their civil liberties and civil rights.

It is bad enough that such indiscriminate collection takes place – “just in case we can find something in there” – on ANYONE in the world. I understand and admire and support any and all investigative efforts to prevent terroristic activities, but the cost to civil rights is way too high.

To make things worse, today’s Oversight Board’s report claims that

“The Section 215 bulk telephone records program lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, … and has shown only limited value,”

And

“We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation,”

So, again remind me WHY this collection work continues?

Moreover, why are legislators divided in the US House and US Senate and do not unanimously vote the summary shutdown and destruction of all the collected data?

Who are THEY serving? I though they in are in service to us, the people of the USA. I must have misread the Constitution somewhere…

And a similar cherry goes to our beloved President. Except he is taking the morally turpid low path, a power-grab to snoop on American Citizens for no apparent reason other than quoting again and again the fear-based rhetoric of those who would take his presidency down in a heartbeat – the Conservative wings of the GOP.

The same Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, also states in its report that the collection is questionable under provisions of the First and Fourth Amendments, and raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy.

The true insult to Americans by the NSA and its supporters is the repetition of the argument that “bulk metadata is no encroachment on civil liberties and rights as it reveals no personal information.

If it does not, how can such information lead to prevention of activities of harmdoers? I read that argument as pure, unadulterated, and untreated bullshit (forgive me for the use of this word – it actually seems to be rather mild and courteous description for the argument.)

In my next blog post I’ll describe the work of some brainy guys showing how easy it is to find the proverbial needle in the haystack of data. (With the bulls and haystack, seems to be a little agriculture going on here today 🙂 …)

Is it time to send a message to Congress and the President that they should kindly pack it in and go home and stop collecting payroll from us? They certainly do not represent or work for OUR INTERESTS!
 
 
 NOTE 1:
Allow me to disabuse anyone who thinks that the board I speak of is some liberal, left-wing nut Commie organization: The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was
established at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission in 2004. At the request of lawmakers and Obama last year, the board reviewed U.S. intelligence gathering programs and it will issue a separate report on Internet surveillance.[Source: Reuters http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSL2N0KX12N20140123?irpc=932]

December 30th, 2013

Happy New Year 2014 – and your right to vote!

First of all, Happy New Year to all for 2014! May this year bring to you all that you desire and wish for.

The Atlantic today published an article by Andrew Cohen. It is an attempt to counter the following question: “If I Need ID to Buy Cough Syrup, Why Shouldn’t I Need ID to Vote?”

The article goes into some length discussing and explaining the issues surrounding the concerted Conservative movement in the USA to limit the voting right, or at least limit the voting public and make certain their decline in the demographics is not reflected in the voting on issues.

The short answer is simple: “Voters in the USA have a constitutional right to vote, but there is NOTHING in the constitution that provides them with the right to buy cough medicine.

But go deeper – if you have time!

The question is BOGUS! To vote, you must identify yourself – so the entire premise of the question is totally false.

This becomes clear when you understand the question is NOT about identifying a voter but about what sort of identification is required. Invariably, when you delve deeper into the types of ids the Conservatives “approve of”, it becomes clear that they are harder to obtain, require time and effort to obtain, and generally cost more money. That might limit the population that will obtain such ids. It also means that poorer folks in the USA are less likely to obtain such ids, i.e. they cannot vote.

It should be NO SURPRISE that poorer folks in the USA generally tend to vote more liberal and more progressive and less for Conservative causes.

Imagine the surprising coincidence 🙁

The article quotes the ACLU as follows:

Research shows that more than 21 million Americans do not have government-issued photo identification; a disproportionate number of these Americans are low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, and elderly. Voter ID laws have the potential to deny the right to vote to thousands of registered voters who do not have, and, in many instances, cannot obtain the limited identification states accept for voting. Many of these Americans cannot afford to pay for the required documents needed to secure a government-issued photo ID.

[Quote came from this source.]

Conservatives also decry the “voter fraud” that is perpetrated. Amazingly, there IS FRAUD, but all the documentation points to the fact that when it exists, the extent is so minute that is does not change results in any significant way. In another blog here I wrote about a GOP official who claimed that there were 4-5 cases in a county of over 1 million voters.

So, no, the fraud is another bogus reason.

Don’t let Conservatives pull this fraud on you – beat them to the punch, stand up to their fraudulent claims and speak loudly to defeat their efforts to limit voting participation.
 

November 8th, 2013

Amazing – THIS is the USA

It is not that image you may have in your mind. The REAL USA is this: According to numbers that were just released this week, 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty. That is an all-time record high.

On Nov 08, 2013 16:34 UTC the population of the US was 317,029,737, according to US Census Bureau. Employing the services of a calculator, it seems that 15.6% of the population of this wealthy nation (?) is poor!
And there is much much more. This article enumerates 21 hard-to-believe facts about America, the poor and the wealthy. [Update: This article was just given to me…]

The opening item was fact #5 from that article. Here is another:

#8 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. So 400 people have more wealth in the USA than almost half the ENTIRE POPULATION of the same USA.

If you find this staggering and mind-boggling, you should. It means that the wealth transfer (a previously-visited motif in my blog!) continues apace, emptying your pockets and transferring its content to the pockets of the wealthy few. This is supported by fact #7 asserting that household incomes in the USA have declined over the past 5 years!!!

Here is another tidbit to drive home the point of wealth transfer: Fact #11 asserts that 18% of all food stamps in the USA are spent at Wal-Mart. You are aware of course (or are you?) that the Walton Family is the richest family in the USA and probably the world. In Forbes’ March 2013 Billionaires list, the name Walton appears in spots #11, 14, 16, and 17 with wealth totaling more than $107 billion. There are a few more Waltons on that list, but due to marriages they carry other names (suck as Kroenke, Laurie etc.)

Food stamps are financed by the taxpayers, you pay those taxes. Large sums enter the Wal-Mart coffers, and move to the pockets of the Waltons. the wealth transfer path is fairly straight forward – your pockets to the Waltons’ pockets.

Read the the article with the facts on wealthy and poor America – it’ll shock you!

So what can you do? A LOT! Vote with your dollar – DO NOT buy anything at Walmart. Vote with your dollar – DO NOT buy products from companies that participate in the wealth transfer. Vote with your dollar – change your lifestyle to rely on LESS items that are highly processed. You get the drift…

October 30th, 2013

I can’t stand lazy software

Last week I lost two critical files (among others!) when my Blackberry went kaput! I tried to upgrade one piece of software, and the BlackberryWorld – the applications store manager that runs on the Blackberry demanded to be upgraded too. I agreed. Thereafter, nothing worked right.

When I installed the initial upgrade to the application program I originally tried to upgrade, the Blackberry kept rebooting every time the BlackberryWorld application even stirred. Yeeech!

But that was just the beginning. The Blackberry then lost its mind! With all that booting, the operating system probably went south…

I connected the BB to the laptop where the “Blackberry Desktop Manager” runs, to correct that problem.

It started and ran into some roadblocks.

The process goes like so: All the memory in the Blackberry is downloaded to the laptop. It contains all the information that is in the calendar, emails, contacts, and in my case also the password and accounts access information.

Then the operating system is repaired. Then the data is restored.

The data is stored on the laptop in a file with the date in the file name.

So far so good.

The first repair failed. The process repeated. Good data was downloaded from the BB to the laptop and place in that file with the date in the name.

You can do this as long as you want and everything is fine. AS LONG AS THE MEMORY in the BB is intact. If the memory blanks out or is corrupted somehow, the next iteration of the process will download garbage from the BB and keep it in the laptop.

So now you know the way this story will unfold. In the second failure, the memory was corrupted, in fact, blitzed out, blanked out, erased.

The desktop manager program went about doing its thing again: Copy the memory from the BB to the laptop, and in the process WIPED OUT THE ONE GOOD COPY of the critical information.

The Contacts file can be restored from the backups – and after much work it succeeded, although it was not the most current copy, but an older generation. Some issues which I decided to not delve into.

The password and account access file was lost. The software I used for that became obsolete a few months ago and I started copying the info – manually! – to another password application on the laptop. I did not finish the entire process, only about half. The remainder was lost and I have not been able to find any way to restore it.

So where is the “lazy software” part? It takes just a few short lines of code to make the name of the backup file unique. In my case, each iteration of repair would create a backup of the memory into a uniquely named file, without destroying the previous backup copy.

This was not done!

At this point I have sustained so much damage to the information that I am officially done with Blackberry – may it be torn apart and sold in pieces or wherever the latest corporate shenanigans will take this business. It is a pity – this was a GREAT company, and it did GREAT software, GREAT hardware, and exquisitely goo networks for businesses and individuals. It prided itself on being super careful and aware of the needs of industrial strength processes, hardware and software.

But the laziness of one piece of software caused me enormous damage and turn me off on that company!

So I am done with Blackberry.

Not 100% sure how to proceed. There are two thoughts –

(1) Get a dumbphone and a 7″ tablet. Keep data on the tablet in a form that is replicated on the laptop and lock it up super tightly in terms of encryption. Carry the tablet with you for the data. Keep the phone only for calling.

The choices for phone and tablet are obviously at issue. Also, the cost of connecting the tablet to a cellular network, as well as WiFi.

(2) Get an Android of some sort – a Samsung. I am not enamored with iPhones, but keep an open door for that platform.

The issue here is that I’d like to have a little better than iPhone or Androidal smartphone for the work I occasionally to do on the go.

The keyboard is functional, but will make me tear my hairs out if it is longer than 25 minutes at a stretch 🙂 …

So this story explains why I did not post here for a few days, and what the BIG THING in my professional and technological life is.

October 5th, 2013

Out with the New (pope), in with the Old (pope)

Can’t help but guffaw – the old established Catholic clergy is quaking in their boots, trying to figure out if the new Pope is cut of any other cloth than themselves. Is he going to walk the talk that he talks?

2013--09-21 Jeff Danziger

Personally, I doubt it. He was bred and trained and honed and participated all his life in the same “gang”, when could he have learned any other paradigms in his life?

So I seriously doubt the established clergy has much to worry – he’l quite possibly be the same, the same, as his predecessor, and his predecessor, and his predecessor, and his predecessor, and his predecessor, and his predecessor, and his predecessor, and his predecessor, and his predecessor, and his predecessor, and his predecessor, and his predecessor – going back to Good ol’ St Peter.

Well, that is the “history” as written by the Vatican. They never discuss the gaps, the parallel Popes, the fact that there was no such thing as papacy for several hundred years, and of course the myth that Jesus handed the keys to the Vatican to St. Peter 😀 …
 

September 23rd, 2013

Just when you thought the world was SAFER…

Along came Edward Snowden, stole documents from the NSA and absconded to Moscow. Now, in a steady, and continually embarrassing, stream of revelations through the Guardian newspaper, we are learning that the modern world does indeed look like 1984 – very much snooped, very much controlled by powerful governments, very much not to be trusted, and certainly, not democratic.

Bruce Schneier1 is one of the scientists who developed cryptology to a finely honed tool. He has been involved in much of the development of cryptological algorithms and has written very extensively about security, and internet security in specific.

David Talbot interviewed Mr. Schneier for MIT’s Technology Review magazine, and published the interview on September 23, 2013. It is worth the click and read!

Mr. Schneier, never a shy person and never reluctant to express the truth in direct terms, speaks about his new role in assisting the Guardian and their writers to review the NSA documents. He also speaks about some other issues that each person should pay attention to.

I am particularly struck by the following question and answer:

Q: The NSA mission is national security. How is the snooping really affecting the average person?

A: The NSA’s actions are making us all less safe. They’re not just spying on the bad guys, they’re deliberately weakening Internet security for everyone – including the good guys. It’s sheer folly to believe that only the NSA can exploit the vulnerabilities they create. Additionally, by eavesdropping on all Americans, they’re building the technical infrastructure for a police state.

We’re not there yet, but already we’ve learned2 that both the DEA and the IRS use NSA surveillance data in prosecutions and then lie about it in court. Power without accountability or oversight is dangerous to society at a very fundamental level.

The two sentences I highlighted above should make each of us, both mad as hell and be infused with fear.

The last paragraph discussing the abuse of power and lies in court of law points to the ultimate in arrogance and abuse of power by our own government.

Mr. Schneier’s concluding remark from the interview is, in my opinion, the best part of this dark and ominous interview.

The Internet has become essential to our lives, and it has been subverted into a gigantic surveillance platform. The solutions have to be political. The best advice for the average person is to agitate for political change.

Do we, as worried members of society, have the backbone to add our voices and press for the necessary political change?

If not, we earn the fate of sheep and slavery depicted in 1984.

Notes:
1. Wikipedia entry on Bruce Schneier
2. As reported by Forbes Magazine, among others
 
May 29th, 2013

Happy Days Are Here Again…

My least favorite politician is hanging up her tongue – finally! Congresswoman Michele Bachmann who represents (nominally) the people of the 6th Congressional District of Minnesota announced she is not going to run for another term in Congress.

I said above that she nominally represents the 6th District. I stand by that. Her representation is ideologically motivated, and she only represents the interests of Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party supporters who keep sending her truckloads of money in campaign donations. She also represents quite consistently the interests of the 1%ers in this country, while giving lip service to her concern for the country and its people, the financial stability and viability of the economy of the USA (which she probably has no understanding beyond what 1st grader has!)

Bachmann is also a dangerously corrosive and divisive player in American politics, undermining discourse with her utterly ideological stance and lack of understanding. She tends to whip up emotions in large groups of audiences and they go forth leming-like in Nazi troop formations to do her bidding, not asking questions, not being concerned about their leader’s ethics or the morality of their mission. In that, she represents an imminent danger to the democracy that she alleges she protects.

But for now, she is out of contention.

In her speech (see below), she left open the possibility that she will consider anything that “will help save and protect” the USA. I read that as anything that she is assured to win and will fill her bank account with more $$$.

Her opponent, Jim Graves, whom I met and respect a lot, must be happy although concerned with what else the GOP in the District will stand up as an opponent against him. You can see two interviews with Jim Graves on Access to Democracy here and here.


 

May 24th, 2013

Cut it, cut that branch you are sitting on!

In my own backyard in MN, in Minnesota’s Congressional District 2, we have a Congressman, John Kline, in Washington who has a problem: He is married to ideology – one of kowtowing to the rich, to the mighty, and to those who presumably benefit his political campaign to run again.

He is uniquely uninterested in his constituency. In previous runs for Congress, his opponent documented extensively how Kline had the most abysmal record of benefiting his Congressional District. He managed to secure $0.35 in Federal funds coming back to the district for every $1.00 the District sent to the Federal Government. He has held the US record in this incompetence.

Yes, he was elected again. He is the darling of ultra-right wingnut Conservatives in Minnesota. (I know, we welcome everyone to come live here, even this transplant Kline, and myself!)

He is quite a surviver! He voted against many veterans’ benefits because of some strange an unexplainable strategy of his own. Yet, Vets showed up for him and voted for him enthusiastically because he is Colonel in the military. His claim to fame: Carried the briefcase with the nuclear codes for President Reagan – in field conditions, under heavy fire, in the trenches, under harsh sun and in pouring rain… Wait… wait… I am confusing this clerk with some real serving military people.

In any case, Vets voted for him. We see this in the USA a lot. People vote vehemently and enthusiastically against their own interest and not even for someone of any moral stature and qualities that are overwhelming. Why? I dunno! I wish I knew.

Kline is chair of the Congressional Committee on Education and the Workforce. He renamed it from Education and Labor to Education and Workforce. This is a nod to his masters like the Brothers Koch et al. Labor has a positive meaning, a human component. But “workforce” is just a physics terms, like a bunch of robots, humans, and some animals, all working together for the Masters.

Anyway, Kline’s grand achievements in the last two years can be written inside the space of this letter -> 0 < - see? But now he is making up for the paucity of action with the latest attack on the middle class: The "Smarter Solutions for Students Act", John Kline-sponsored H.R. 1911. This bill, just passed by the House. will make students pay more in student loans. Here is how: The bill scraps the 3.4% fixed rate on student loans. It is not much, and it is a fixed rate. It allows students to plan their way through school and after they come out of school and join the labor force (Ooops!!! "workforce"!!!) So this rate goes away and it is replaced with a 2.9% rate PLUS market rate on such loans. Banks are salivating! The market rate is determined largely by what they charge, so they can easily influence the rates to climb. The banks gain – The Rich Masters can get RICHER! 

Students: Yeah, well, screw them. They are just “work force”, who cares?

That they have to contend with fluctuating (probably more often than not, rising!) rates and planning and budgeting is out the window, who cares? certainly not Kline!

He has his little pension from the House assured, and his little pension from the Military assured. WE ARE paying for it.

Obama, in a flash of benevolence towards the non-rich, threaten to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. I hope he remembers that promise.

Back to the title: Young voters are growing in numbers among voting masses. Young voters are often saddled with student loans – some in the hundreds of thousands! Young voters are increasingly getting upset about the lack of representation they have in Washington – and are more readily inclined to send the old goats (Kline among them!) packing to graze on some mountainside.

I hope that the young voters also realize that it is THEIR PREROGATIVE to vote changes in the terms of pension of the goats like Kline – he felt comfortable breaking promises to them.

We have in the District an option now, Mike Obermueller. He is a man with integrity and compassion. I urge you all to support Mike Obermueller and send Kline into retirement in 2014.

It is a dangerous and divisive politics Kline is playing on the backs of his constituency and in favor of his rich Masters. Don’t feel so confident cutting that branch, Rep. Kline!

March 31st, 2013

The New Landscapes

The Online magazine Slate published an interesting article about a Chinese-born and Beijing and Australia-educated artist, Yao Lu, and his art.

Here is an example of what he does:

Yao Lu 2007 Autumn Mist in the Mountain with Winding Streams

While this picture looks … well, picturesque, and a cultural sequel of the Chinese fine landscape art of the past, careful examination reveals that the scene is an orchestration garbage mountains.

So much for modern day technology improving our lives.

The article has many more images and some interesting narrative by the artist. Worth clicking through.

February 5th, 2013

God Loves the 1%ers

No Really! He does…

This fun article purports to explain, tongue very-very firmly stuck in cheek, how God views the 1%ers and the rest of us. Jesus, in this little tale, confirms the message.

It is fine reading but takes a wee bit more than watching Beyonce shaking her hair sexily (along with the rest of bootalicious herself! 😀 but I am sure you can do it…

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