Archive for February, 2014

Question: Why is the future of the Internet so bleak?

February 26, 2014

Question: Why is the future of the Internet so bleak?

 I think I’ve come to an appreciation of just how much of a historical accident it is, that the global network we all use is the internet. There were other contenders to be the network. It might have been CompuServe or Prodigy or AOL or Minitel or MCI Mail, or any other number of proprietary networks that, in 1993, people were just wondering which one would win. Kind of like which of the long distance companies, back in the day when you had four phones on your desk, so somebody only with a red phone could be called by your red phone, which would be the AT&T. And to have a network like the internet end up winning that battle, truly the dark horse candidate, one without a CEO, without a business plan, without a revenue model, without content, without a main menu? This thing is just the blinking cursor of networks. Paradoxically, that made it maximally open to the content and activities that anybody could invent. And it’s that openness to third party application that I say is wonderful. And a good part of the first part of the book is a celebration of that story, followed by worry, because when you have systems, technologies, platforms, that are open to third party contribution, they start off great in a backwater. The people who use them share a lot in common with one another. It’s like a bunch of nerds, and they do cool things with it. But when it goes mainstream, if the rough edges aren’t sanded off, it opens up the prospect for abuse. And by that, I mean the fact that we have on our desks PCs that are fundamentally the same as the Apple II personal computer, introduced by Steve Jobs as a 21 year old in 1977, a hobbyist’s machine, personal computer.

 

That we have them in businesses now, in schools, and everywhere, it’s now open to executable code, not that we choose, but that somebody else chooses to deposit on the machine and trick us into running, or through a flaw, just automatically runs it on the machine, and we didn’t even realize it. To me, when I look at the rich information environment we have now, the tightly coupled one where, within ten minutes, you could have a well-written worm work its way from the first machine to the next 100 million, within ten minutes. Or you can have web pages that deal out drive by downloads, so the mere act of visiting the wrong website can permanently poison your machine. I start to think, “Well, what if our televisions were that way?” And suddenly your TV is on the fritz. The blues are green and the greens are blue, and you call to get it checked under the warranty. They say, “Oh, were you watching Channel 27? Were you watching the Disney special friends channel at 9pm last Thursday? Because there was a virus on that channel, and now your machine has to be sent back to the factory, or totally–” I mean, we would just not accept it, any more than we would in our refrigerator. “Oh, you put the wrong food in the fridge and now the fridge has been infected by the fridge virus. Now it’s only going to warm your food instead of cool it.” It’s just unacceptable.

 

So as this happens more and more with our PC technology, and to some extent, our internet technology, people will start looking for the appliance solution at a time when they can get it. That’s where we turn to iPods, iPhones, Blackberries, X Boxes, and a whole range of web enabled applications that substitute for what the PC would do. If you were told today, in 2008, that you’re allowed to be on the internet, but you only get on your PC a browser. You can’t use any other application. You can’t use Skype or Instant Messenger. You can’t use word processors like Word or WordPerfect (the best word processor in the world!!!). If you were told that a year ago, that would actually put a crimp in your plans. Today, not a big deal. You could do your docs on Google Docs, your spreadsheets on Google Spreadsheets, your email on Gmail, your social networking on Facebook, and there’s web versions of IM. You’d get along fine. But it’s not as generative, or at least, as permanently generative a platform, as the old fashioned PC.

Draft Ted Nugent

February 24, 2014

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Ted Nugent is perhaps the most courageous man in America.  America needs courageous men.  Hence, W’ve launched a petition to draft Ted Nugent to serve on the front lines in Afghanistan.

You may well wonder why Mr. Nugent has not already made this decision on his own.  This is a complex medical affair:  while courageous in a way rarely encountered this side of Chuck Norris, Mr. Nugent has long been plagued by an allergy to active duty.  I stress that this is an allergy, not a personal disposition.  There is a vast difference, yo.

Ted Nugent wants to fight.  He just can’t bring himself to do so, because of this unfortunate and rare ailment.  We can help.

When called up to serve in Vietnam, Ted Nugent allegedly contracted a serious bowel condition.  We have this allegation from an impeccable source: Ted Nugent.  In an article in High Times magazine in 1977, Mr. Nugent described this rare and unpleasant intestinal failure in gruesome detail.  When he finally presented himself for duty, he was a walking disease of a human being, and the army wouldn’t touch him:  “They’d call dead people before they’d call my ass.”

Note that this in no way reflects upon Mr. Nugent’s courage or capabilities.  It  is also, as “The Nuge” himself points out, something of an irony:

But you know the funny thing about it?  I’d make an incredible army man.  I’d be a colonel before you knew what hit you, and I’d have the baddest bunch of motherf*uckin’ killers you’d ever seen in my platoon.  But I just wasn’t into it. I was too busy doin’ my own thing, you know?

We do know.  And now that your own thing involves rocking heavily on behalf of guns and the constitutional right to high-capacity magazines, you should have the opportunity to do it, right?  Your own thing.

We can help.

Now, Mr. Nugent later denied the words above — and, let’s face it, they don’t really sound like the decorous rhetoric we associate with the real Ted Nugent — so we’ll have to lean here on snopes.com:  his deferment was of an educational sort (twice), before he was rejected “as a result of a physical examination.”  And that physical might have determined, for all we know, that The Nuge had a debilitating hangnail.

Still, the lingering suspicion dogs Mr. Nugent, and it’s our collective duty to make this clear:  that dog won’t hunt.  Hence, the “Draft Ted Nugent” campaign.

Historically, the draft has been a complex issue, to put it mildly.  In 1918, the Supreme Court deemed it constitutional for Congress to mandate conscription:  Congress gets to declare the war, so it gets to decide who’s going to do the warring.

Twice, however, the president himself has shown personal muscle in this regard.  The draft was altered by executive order in 1942, and again in 1953.  Ladies and gentleman, we have a precedent.  What decent, reasonable SCOTUS would sniff at an executive order this selective, exceptional, and patriotic?  Hence, to bypass deadlock in Congress, we are presenting our petition directly to the White House.

Mr. President, draft the Nuge.  Let them know what the Great American Satan looks like turned up to eleven.

Imagine you’re a shy, cave-dwelling Talibanista, and you’re confronted by a yowling Motor City staple of classic rock radio stations, shouldering a bazooka and clutching the Second Amendment and making that face that you see on the cover of Cat Scratch Fever

(How do you say “gosh, that’s quite something” in Pashto?)

President Obama, you owe it to the United States of America to draft this hunk o’ has-been rockstar.  Let the Nuge serve proudly and loudly on the front lines, before the war ends and he is forever denied this headlining gig.

Moreover, it is time to clear the Nugent name.  As the Ted Nugent Draft is shouted from the mountaintops, let there also be proclaimed a bitchin’ presidential pardon, forgiving Mr. Nugent for whatever caused him regretfully to decline active duty during the Vietnam War.

You’re good to go, Ted.  No cowardice in your past, and none in your future.

And when the last of the troops comes home, Colonel, we’ll leave you to Wango Tango in Tora Bora, armed to the canines, and you can personally scour the caves for left-over bad guys: solo like Rambo. You’ll have all the big-bored gun tech you could possibly dream of.  There ain’t no ban in the ‘Stan — you won’t be prosthetically neutered by chickenshit small-capacity liberals.  This will be the unfettered Nuge, a one-man death-dealin’, cat-scratchin’ war machine:  the guy immortalized by Guitar World magazine for playing #7 in the “100 Worst Guitar Solos” of all time.  Surely it’s time to add to that honor a posthumous purple heart.

NOTE:  The original petition on the US government site has been removed.  We can argue about whether or not this constitutes censorship, but more important is to sign the new version of the petition, which I have launched on change.org:

Please sign________________
The petition reads:  “Ted Nugent, draft dodger, should have the opportunity to redeem his sullied reputation, so that he can drown us in a cesspool of guns. In fact, we should make him do this. An executive order is appropriate: Mr. President, conscript the Nuge.”

Subhuman Mongrel

February 22, 2014

life of a female bible warrior

Image Associated Press

Apparently in 2014 there are Conservative radical Republican Christians who believe it is acceptable and even godly to call The President of the United States of America a “subhuman mongrel.”

Many other Republican-leaning Conservative Christians say nothing whatsoever to condemn this kind of behavior as sinful; they merely continue their own personal diatribe’s against homosexuality and abortion, as per usual, as if these are the only sins worth taking note of or railing against.

Personally speaking, I don’t think Jesus Christ appreciates the Christian who slanders others or creates lies and gossip about anyone, including the President of the United States. You see, the bible tells us that God doesn’t like liars. God doesn’t like false religion, either, that claims to be following Christ, but openly exhibits rotting fruit for everyone to see.

Warning, sarcasm ahead:

The following kinds of Christians can instantly be spotted because they accuse and slander…

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I report you decide!

February 21, 2014

You’d think a thing like FOX couldn’t happen in the United States. Although they’re free to be crazy and free to support the Republican Party, you’d think Americans would be too smart to fall for the made-up outrages, dishonest reporting and relentless appeal to our meaner nature. Unfortunately, many Americans are not as smart as we used to assume: a huge swath of Americans (especially elderly white Southerners) believe FOX is just another news media outlet. They aren’t.

What is FOX?

Pensitore Review pulled no punches in answering that question back in 2009.

FOX News is indisputably the most popular cable news channel. And yet in 13 years, Fox has never broken a story. That’s okay, because it is not in the news business. It is in the news-shaping business. Its programming is an admixture of right-wing propaganda and fear-porn for feeble-minded paranoiacs, served up by spokesmodels who have no clue what they are reading.

Whew! Could that be true? I report/You decide

Nixon White House aide Roger Ailes in the 1970′s created fake news stories that favored President Nixon. He shipped these pre-mixed video packages to TV stations around the country at the expense of rightwing extremist Joseph Coors. It was all b.s. all the time, but the TV stations, pretending they had a correspondent in Washington, ran this propaganda as straight news. Now that Ailes runs FOX News, his goals are the same: to spread republicanism by altering the news.

      • FOX is a “relentless agenda-driven 24 hour news opinion propaganda delivery system” ~Jon Stewart
      • “They’re a Republican brand. They’re an extension of the Republican Party with some exceptions” ~Larry King
      • ‎”[Fox is] widely viewed as a part of the Republican Party: take their talking points and put them on the air, take their opposition research and put it on the air. And that’s fine. But let’s not pretend they’re a news organization like CNN is.” ~Anita Dunn

Fox changes words, meanings, facts, and even actual news footage.

There are thousands of examples of FOX not just “leaning” in a particular direction on an issue… but actively changing around the words and meanings of interviews to make them seem to say the opposite of what the person interviewed actually said; of lies about what happened; of incorrect graphics…for example, calling Congressman Mark Foley a Democrat when he got caught in gay chatter with pages and calling Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords a Republican when there was an outpouring of sympathy for her after she got shot.

• FOX took a sparsely-attended tea-party rally in Washington and spliced in video of a heavily-attended event of an entirely different nature from months earlier.

• FOX has gotten caught using image manipulation software to edit the appearance of people they don’t like to make them appear more sinister.

• FOX alters poll results to mislead its viewers; in one case, their massacre of a Rasmussen poll on climate change ended up with a poll number of 120%–mathematically impossible, of course, except in FOX world.

• On 4-24-09… White House correspondent Wendell Goler cropped a comment by Obama and took it out of context — effectively reversing the statement’s meaning — to falsely suggest that Obama supports creating a health care system “like the European countries.”

• A 2010 Ohio State University study of public misperceptions about the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” found that viewers who relied on Fox News were 66% more likely to believe incorrect rumors than those with “low reliance” on Fox News ~Wikipedia

• A study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes showed 67% of Fox viewers believed that the “U.S. has found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the al Qaeda terrorist organization” (He wasn’t. He hated, feared and banned them, but you’d never know that by watching FOX).

The more you watch FOX, the less you know.

Wait, it gets worse: For all other networks and news sources, the MORE you watch them, the MORE you know about the actual facts. Those who view CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, & NPR the MOST, have the BEST grasp of the FACTS. With FOX it – is- the – opposite!! Which is what gave birth to the mocking slogan: THE MORE YOU WATCH FOX, THE LESS YOU KNOW.

• In the summer of 2003, 34% of Americans who did not follow the news very closely believed evidence had been found that linked Iraq with al Qaeda before the U.S. invasion. 42% of people who were moderate consumers of FOX news had that opinion. Among those who “watched FOX News very closely” … that number was 80% !! ~Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 118, #4 THE MORE YOU WATCH FOX, THE LESS YOU KNOW!

• FOX News’ Happening Now cropped clips of Obama from an April 3 speech in France to falsely suggest that Obama only criticized the United States. In doing so, Happening Now joined conservative commentators and Fox News hosts who have cropped or misrepresented Obama’s overseas remarks to falsely suggest, in the words of host Sean Hannity, that Obama was “blam[ing] America first” and, more broadly, that Obama’s earlier overseas trip constituted an “apology tour.”

• Fox News presented a clip of Joe Biden criticizing John McCain’s “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” statement…. Problem is, this was something Biden was QUOTING…from SIX MONTHS EARLIER… but it was edited by FOX to make it seem that Biden was stating it as his own opinion. The bogus clip was introduced by Live Desk co-host Martha MacCallum as comments Biden had made in interviews THIS WEEKEND.

• FOX pushed the bogus stat that cap-and-trade would cost “every American family $1,761 annually.” PolitiFact.com has labeled the statistic false and noted that the talking point has been pushed by Republicans.

• On 9/30/09 FOX Gregg Jarrett said on the air that the Obama Department of Justice “thinks it’s OK to intimidate white people, not OK to intimidate black people at the polls.”

‎”If we went back … to the fall of 2008, to the campaign, that was a time this country was in two wars that we had a financial collapse probably more significant than any financial collapse since the Great Depression. If you were a Fox News viewer in the fall election what you would have seen were that the biggest stories and the biggest threats facing America were a guy named Bill Ayers and a something called ACORN.” ~Anita Dunn

A 2011 Kaiser Family Foundation survey on U.S. misconceptions about health care reform found that Fox News viewers scored lower for factual knowledge than other news viewers.

Follow the Money!

February 20, 2014

Increasing wealth and income inequality in the United States is the great moral and economic issue of our time.  It speaks to whether we will be a nation with a vibrant and growing middle class, or an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of incredibly wealthy families control our economic and political life.

In America today, the top 1% owns 38% of our country’s financial wealth. The bottom 60% owns all of 2.3%. In the last several years, 95% of all new income has gone to the top 1%. Sadly, we recently learned that in 2012 the top 40 hedge fund managers in the country earned $16.7 billion dollars, as much as 300,000 public school teachers combined — almost a third of all high school teachers in America. How’s that for national priorities!

In recent months, world leaders from the president to the pope have been speaking out on this long ignored, but critical issue. Several months ago a number of us in the Senate and House urged President Obama to issue an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. Recently, the president did just that. I applaud him for taking this important step forward.  But much more needs to be done.

1) Demand the Citizens United be abolished

2)No more spending money to be elected-

3) No more Corporate (“corporations are people”) mentality

4) Restrict elected officials to only two terms -No more free rides $174,000 is too much try a dollar a year (and we’ll pick up your expenses -with a receipt of course)

5)Tell the billionaires that belong to Kappa Beta Phi that the USA is not for sale at any price!

The Insidious and Orwellian “Religious Liberties Protection Act” of “Christian” Kansas

February 18, 2014

Padre Steve has summed it up.

Padre Steve's World...Musings of a Progressive Realist in Wonderland

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“There is no such thing as part freedom.” Nelson Mandela 

In their desire to protect the rights of conservative Evangelical and Catholic Christians the representatives of the State of Kansas enacted a new law. It really is an amazing law that enshrines discrimination against homosexuals based on religious preference. The law is targeted to allegedly protect people who do not want to serve homosexuals based on their religious beliefs. However, the law is so broadly written that it can be used against anyone for any reason by an individual, business or organization “if it would be contrary to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity.”

It is legislation that is reminiscent of Jim Crow laws used against blacks, Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Laws against the Jews of the 1930s, and the laws of Islamic nations that allow non-Moslems or more open minded Moslems to be prosecuted or even…

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GOP health care plan- Die and die quickly

February 16, 2014

Here’s another Affordable Care Act horror story that’s, well, too bad to be true. It’s centers on the plight of a woman from Lawrenceburg, Tenn. whose $57-a-month plan was canceled because it didn’t meet the standards of the new law, thus “forcing” her into a $373-a-month Platinum plan purchased through HealthCare.gov.

 

The woman, Emilie Lamb, 39, was so outraged that she told her story in this video from Americans for Prosperity and again in this op-ed from the New York Post. And she was a guest of her Congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn, at the State of the Union Address last month. (Blackburn’s office was kind enough to pass along to Lamb my request to speak to her, but I never heard from her.)

Lamb suffers from lupus, a chronic inflammatory autoimmune illness that requires lifelong monitoring and treatment. Her old plan, she wrote,“was perfect for someone with my unique medical condition and limited financial means.” But the experts I spoke with say Lamb is lucky she didn’t land in bankruptcy court before her old health plan was consigned to well-deserved oblivion. Here’s why.

Her old health plan, CoverTN, may have been a well-intentioned effort by the state of Tennesee to provide minimal coverage for lower-income working people. But the most it would pay out for health care in a single year was $25,000. That’s barely enough for an uncomplicated pregnancy, and totally inadequate for a serious, unpredictable illness such as lupus that can require expensive treatments.

“Lupus is a highly variable disease,” Gary Gilkeson, M.D., a professor of medicine and lupus specialist at the Medical University of South Carolina, said. “There certainly are patients that do well on low-cost generic medications, but about 50 or 60 percent will end up needing immunosuppressants.” If lower-cost varieties don’t work, he said, “they go on to the biologics like Benlysta, which is around $50,000 a year, or Rituxan, which is about $60,000 a year.”

In addition, having lupus greatly increases a person’s risk of developing cancer, kidney failure, or heart disease, all of which can have six-figure treatment costs—well above the $25,000 limit of Lamb’s old plan. Luckily, Lamb hasn’t yet needed any of these expensive drugs or treatments. But there’s a very good chance that she will.

Under her old plan, they would not have been covered. Under her new plan, they will be. I used HealthCare.gov’s window-shopping feature to identify what she purchased: a Platinum plan with a $1,500 out-of-pocket limit. (Here’s the Summary of Benefits and Coverage for it.) There is no deductible, 25 percent coinsurance for pretty much all services, and, most critically, no upper limit on what the plan will pay out for medical care. So if she ever has a complication of her disease, or needs one of those expensive drugs, the most she’ll have to pay out of pocket in a year is $1,500. The insurance company will pick up the rest of the tab, no matter how costly.

In other words, she now has real health insurance, not junk. The only “horror story” here was the insurance she used to have.

And remember, before the new health law went into effect, having a serious pre-existing condition such as lupus would have made it impossible for Lamb to be accepted for private health insurance at any price. But when she went to buy her new plan, she wasn’t asked a single question about her health history, because it is now officially a non-issue.

Now lets make sense of this who “health care situation, why shouldn’t each American have health care that could be a life savor? Because there are those who could care less if you live or die! Sound too harsh?

Why is it that the richest 1% don’t want an increase in the minimum wage increase?

Why is it that 25 state governors refuse to allow people to join together to improve the workers conditions (safety, wages, benefits) [read unions]  

If you not familiar with the movie “Spartacus” go rent a copy.

Because Gentle reader, it’s going to come down to this.  

And answering, the King will say to them, Truly I say to you, In so far as you did it to one of these, the least of My brothers, you did it to Me. Then He will also say to those on His left, Go away from Me, cursed ones, into the everlasting fire having been prepared for the Devil and his angels.

(Matthew 25:40-41)

Choose you this day the side you will be on.

How one Christians responds to stand your ground laws

February 16, 2014

One night before what would have been Jordan Davis’ 19th birthday, a Florida jury has resulted in a mistrial for his killer, Michael Dunn, on the count of  first-degree murder. Dunn, however, was found guilty on four charges — including three for attempted murder.

That’s right — a white man killed an unarmed Black teenager and just got away with it, using Florida’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” or “Shoot First” law as a deflective shield for this racially-motivated killing.  It’s a gripping comparison and a terrifying continuation of the injustice we saw with Trayvon Martin — with both murders taking place in the same state just months apart. We send our love to Jordan’s family. While the jury was unable to adequately decide the fate of the man who killed their son, we hope that they will still find some peace.

In the years and months since Michael Dunn murdered 17-year old Jordan Russell Davis in cold blood at a convenience store in Jacksonville, his hostility towards Black citizens has been made abundantly clear. In a letter to his daughter written from his jail cell while awaiting trial, he wrote, “This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these [expletive] idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.” Although not submitted as evidence in the trial, these letters paint a chilling portrait of a man consumed by racial bias, exacting vigilante justice on an unsuspecting — and unarmed — Black child.

Nearly 111,000  members have called for an end to these laws that undermine public safety and give murderers the opportunity to walk free. “Shoot First” emboldens people like Michael Dunn to kill when and where they see fit and unless we end “Shoot First” laws, we will continue to witness tragedies like the one that took Jordan Davis away from his family. As I accelerate my efforts demanding that state governments oppose and repeal “Shoot First”, we’ll also urge federal officials to investigate how these laws protect and embolden those who commit hate crimes.

You may disagree with me but in Scripture It is forbidden to murder, as it says “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17).The New Testament is in agreement that murder is a grave moral evil, and maintains the Old Testament view of bloodguilt.] Jesus himself repeats and expands upon the commandment, “Do not murder.” The New Testament depicts Jesus as explaining that murder, as well as other sins, comes from the heart.

And if murder comes from the heart shall we as believing ones stand by and not raise a cry or shall the blood of innocent men, women and child cry out to God from the ground?