Friday, March 30, 2012

Can't Go For That: Cool Hall & Oates Cover.

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, as seen here at

Simplified: How to be a Sound Banker.

I saw this quote today, which I think is really quite brilliant. 
The "sound" banker, alas! is not one who sees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows so that no one can really blame him.
–John Maynard Keynes
If I was as lousy at my job as are many politicians, bankers, and business executives, I wouldn't just be fired, I'd be jailed. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy Constitution Day

Hey, it's Constitution Day! Who knew? If you need help understanding what a constitution is, check out this video from, which uses simple to understand hockey analogies, but watch out, there is a bit of blood during the description of what might happen if hockey had no rules.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trayvon Martin III: Mother Seeks to Trademark "I Am Trayvon"

Like the murder and the subsequent failure to prosecute the perpetrator, our system supports much that defies common sense, and so it should perhaps come as no surprise that Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, is seeking to trademark the phrases, "Justice for Trayvon," and, "I am Trayvon.

I have mixed feelings about her choice.  On the one hand it seems dirty to capitalize on this misfortune this way, like racism is evil but greed is totally cool. On the other hand, if I was in her situation and saw that others were capitalizing, what would I do?  She'll probably make millions with T-shirts and book deals and movie rights.  Can I begrudge her that?  And if not, and if it still feels wrong, where is the problem?  I don't know.

If the focus of past civilizations was religion, as evidenced by archeologists finding objects of ritual and cathedrals having been the most significant architectural efforts put forth, our society, by contrast, worships wealth.  Our cathedrals are shopping malls, and our sacred objects are plastic cards, but there's something that feels wrong about that in a case like this.

I've heard that some ancient societies had no concept of ownership or personal property, and as a thought exercise it seems interesting to contrast that with what we do.  In our society it seems that everything, if not already owned, is at least subject to ownership, and so Trayvon Martin's death can become a commodity, and if I want to sell T-shirts that say, "I Am Trayvon," I should owe money to his mom. 


Friday, March 23, 2012

GOP Misogyny: Out There for the World to See

From, this video powerfully repeats comments made by prominent US Republicans.

Guns Don't Kill People, Hoodies Kill People: Trayvon Martin II

I don't know what to say.
I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as George Zimmerman.
- Geraldo Riviera
Well then, someone arrest the f**king hoodie.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

RUIN CGI Animated Short

Tres cool from

Trayvon Martin: Wrong Place, Wrong Time.

Trayvon Martin is that kid who got shot by the neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, who is alive today because he had a gun, which was smart of him.  Guns don't kill people in much the same way that cigarettes don't kill people.  The only thing that can kill people is, of course, people.

Or maybe the flu.  I guess the flu can kill people, if it's Spanish or Swine or SARS, so I guess flus that start with 'S' are the most deadly.  Oh, and there's snakes of course, sometimes people can die at the hands of snakes, except snakes don't have hands, nor do they seem to need them. But it's clear that just because they can't handle guns doesn't mean snakes are safe, so clearly deadliness is not something we can strictly associate with guns, or cigarettes, really, since there are so many, many ways for people of frighteningly large minorities to die, and not just gunshot wounds.

So really it's more of a 'wrong place, wrong time' kind of thing, since in the right place at the right time everything would have been fine.  So Trayvon was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and it was dark, which is not surprising.  It could probably be proved that a lot of 'wrong place, wrong time' kinds of events happen when it's dark, and when seeing is clearly hard.

So the lighting could have been better, and if he was carrying skittles and ice tea it might have looked like a gun, which couldn't have killed people, but might have frightened George Zimmerman, and what if he was afraid?  It was dark, and Trayvon had dark skin so maybe it was harder to read his intentions, and if he didn't get a bag for his ice tea then probably he was grasping it and pointing it at George.

Nobody deserves to die, obviously, but just yesterday I was sitting at home and *bang* a bird flies into the living-room window and breaks it's neck, and so can we blame the window?  If the bird leaves it's nest it takes a chance, really, and hopes for the best for that day, like we all do.

To sum up, guns are a symbol of our freedom and our right to keep ourselves safe against--you know--the living-room windows that any of us might, and often do encounter on a dark night, or if it's so bright that you see a tree reflected in the window and you go to fly into that tree and *bang*.  Also, if I was Mr. Martin, I would think about carrying a gun in the future, not so much to hurt somebody, but so I could feel safer, and to exercise my inalienable second amendment rights.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stunning Video of Earth and Space From the ISS

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Fads, a Free Internet, and Paying Attention

The Kony 2012 craze is a fad like a hula-hoop.  In the first half of March 2012 the Kony video was watched 80 million times, and in the late 1950's the hula-hoop sold 100 million units.  Both of them were heavily promoted with the best of modern technology, and both are pretty inconsequential in terms of content.  Kony, since his peak in the late 1990s, is mostly a spent force, and 'hula-hooping,' well, who cares?

The thing exists because it can.  If it wasn't Kony, and if it wasn't the hula-hoop, it would have been some other asshole and some other toy.  Darwin showed that given constant variation and a nourishing medium, natural selection happens.  Kony 2012 has celebrity endorsement, YouTube, and a shit-load of users demanding entertainment.  The hula-hoop had celebrity endorsement, TV, and a shit-load of viewers demanding entertainment.  If the medium is the message, then Kony and the hula-hoop are strictly message.

What's interesting is the medium, and if hindsight is 20/20 then let's start with the hula-hoop, which flourished in a semi-euphoric, post-war, televised, affluent, civil society.  In a similar fashion, what's interesting about Kony is not Kony, but rather the fact that a complex idea expressed by a small organization can 'go viral' in the medium of our internet connected society, and millions of people across nations can participate in the conversation in a matter of days.

Kony, the Arab Spring, WikiLeaks, Anonymous, Copyright, SOPA, ACTA, all these messages point to the incredibly interconnected medium in which our society exists, and how messages within that medium increasingly bypass governments and corporations.  They are now the old authorities--the old keyholders and the old gatekeepers--and they are not pleased, but neither are the people.

Now is an important time.  I'm going to be paying close attention.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Avoid Extreme Wrist Angles

I'm writing an inventory control system so I bought a barcode scanner. I guess it can be dangerous...
Who knew?
That says, "Have a nice day," in barcode.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Mountain Bike Helmet Cam in Chile

Wow, what a ride! Hold on.

Simplified: Why it's Easier to Take the Side of the Perpetrator

Through my sister, through her therapist, Andrew Feldmar, I read and re-posted this quote on Facebook.
"It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement and remembering."
--Judith Lewis Herman
But after a little Googling I found more of the quote and some info about the author.  Judith Lewis Herman is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Training Director of the Victims of Violence Program at The Cambridge Hospital.  A fuller version of the quote follows, and loses none of it's power...
"It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of the pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering...

In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator's first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it on herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.

The perpetrator's arguments prove irresistible when the bystander faces them in isolation. Without a supportive social environment, the bystander usually succumbs to the temptation to look the other way. This is true even when the victim is an idealized and valued member of society. Soldiers in every war, even those who have been regarded as heroes, complain bitterly that no one wants to know the real truth about war. When the victim is already devalued (a woman, a child), she may find that the most traumatic events in her life take place outside the realm of socially validated reality. Her experience becomes unspeakable. . .

To hold traumatic reality in consciousness requires a social context that affirms and protects the victim and that joins the victim and witness in a common alliance. For the individual victim, this social context is created by relationships with friends, lovers, and family. For the larger society, the social context is created by political movements that give voice to the disempowered."
This crystalizes for me some dynamics I've observed in my family of origin, where injustices seem to be swept under the table, and "the problem" is the person who is upset about having been victimized.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

In Science We Trust

ha ha

I found this item at Unfollowing Jesus. Fail

This is what I see when I go to a article where they've posted a John Stewart video: a note indicating that the video is not available at my location.
In Canada those shows are the property of The Comedy Network, who would rather damage their own product than let me enjoy it at some other site.  If this issue was judged by King Solomon, The Comedy Network would obviously be happy to cut the baby in half.  And they provide no link, and no assistance finding this video if I go to their site.

The outcome is that I don't get to see the video, and I lose respect for The Comedy Network, and for their parent company Bell Media, who put financial gain in front of integrity and lose both in the process.  Idiots.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Altering My Mind All Of The Time

When I was in high school I was yearbook photographer and almost always had a camera with me.  I shot and processed hundreds of feet of black & white film, but what I noticed back then, when I didn't have a camera, was that I was always looking for the beauty in a scene, or looking for texture, or a striking contrast, or some kind of special light.  So the thing I was doing some of the time was altering my mind all of the time, and I feel a similar effect here and now running with this Fanatical Moderate thing.

I feel the growing presence of a similar practiced perspective, like that frame I used to have in my mind's eye in respect to photography, but not visual.  Stuff happens that I think about, or do, or read about, and I increasingly consider how I might post it here with a comment, so this thing I do some of the time, again, is altering my mind all of the time, and more profoundly it seems, since it involves composition that goes beyond visual.

World Record Distance For Paper Airplane Toss

Sunday, March 04, 2012

How Internet Censorship Is Surveillance

Check out this article at The Guardian on how you must do surveillance in order to implement censorship on the internet. In brief, the issue is that a network is an object that routes traffic, and it routes traffic without judgement or prejudice, so in respect to a network there is no good traffic or bad traffic.  The result is that if you want to censor traffic to or from a particular address you need to interrogate all traffic and compare that traffic's origin and destination to a list of forbidden locations.  Surveillance is the part where you interrogate all traffic.  This is like listening to all the phone calls or opening all the packages.  And that is the same as guilty until proven innocent.

But what really makes it silly is this: spoofing the origin or destination of internet traffic is only moderately hard, so people highly motivated to not get caught--criminals--will still not get caught.  And for the rest of us, our every move online gets recorded in a big database.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Martian Dust

opportunity solar panel dust
Opportunity's solar panel. This machine landed on Mars in April 2004 for a 90 day mission. That was about 2900 days ago.

Iceland Considers Switching To Canadian Dollar

It could be that the days of the Krona are numbered in Iceland.  Check out this article at The Globe And Mail.
For 150 years, no country has expressed interest in adopting the Canadian dollar -- the poor cousin to the coveted greenback.
But now tiny Iceland, still reeling from the aftershocks of the devastating collapse of its banks in 2008, is looking longingly to the loonie as the salvation from wild economic gyrations and suffocating capital controls.  And for the first time, the Canadian government says it’s open to discussing idea.