Saturday, March 31, 2012

police state

When we saw the Huff video in our office, we just laughed," Rekowski says. "Not because it wasn't outrageous. But because it's the kind of thing we see all the time. The stop for a so-called 'inappropriate lane change,' the games they play in the questioning, the claims about nervousness or inappropriate behavior that can't really be contradicted. It's all routine."
According to Koester, the defense attorney in private practice, "The dog alert that happens off-camera isn't unusual either. You see that all the time."
Koester and Rekowski say the Huff stop has all the markings of a forfeiture fishing expedition. "You see where he asks if [Huff] is carrying large amounts of U.S. currency," Rekowski says. "It's pretty clear what they're after. These kinds of cases put my kids through college." He laughs, then adds, "I'm only half joking."

Learning from the past; saves lives 1000 years later

"Instead of taking refuge on the closest hill, the one with the shrine, they took the time to get to high ground farther away. From the safety of their vantage point they saw two tsunami waves colliding at the hill with the shrine, as they did long ago. Tragically, not everyone made the right choice; I was told of at least one person who died.
Later, I saw the shrine — a simple clearing by the side of a hillside road, with stone tablets and roughly made figures — and I heard the old story and the new one again: A community remembered what it had been told and did the right thing."

A lesson from Japan to heed the wisdom of our elders.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Learn web software online free!

"After two free computer science classes offered online by Stanford attracted more than 100,000 students, one of the instructors started a company called Udacity to offer similar free lessons. Treehouse, a site that promises to teach Web design, picked up financing from Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, and other notable early investors...

The sites and services catering to the learn-to-program market number in the dozens and have names like Code Racer, Women Who Code, Rails for Zombies and CoderDojo. But at the center of the recent frenzy in this field is Codecademy, a start-up based in New York that walks site visitors through interactive lessons in various computing and Web languages, like JavaScript, and shows them how to write simple commands."

I know html pretty well and use Microsoft Expressions for most of my programming.  But there's a lot more to learn, and now it's free!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Traffic jams waste tons of fuel

"Traffic congestion costs drivers more than $100 billion annually in wasted fuel and lost time, according to the report released Friday.
The report — released in support of President Obama's plan to upgrade and expand America's transportation infrastructure in fiscal year 2013 — comes as Republican presidential candidates criticize Obama for high gasoline prices and his administration and the Senate wrestles with House Republicans over a new transportation bill."

 One of the more important findings of this report is that "For 90% of Americans, the report says, transportation costs absorb $1 of every $7 of income."  that's quite a bit of money. I'd like to see what Londoners or Parisians pay as comparison.  Fortunately, "During the past 15 years, there was a sharp increase in transit system ridership from nearly 8 billion in 1996 to 10.4 billion in 2011."  I remember the mass transit system in phoenix was fought as being a complete waste, yet today it is widely used and saves congestion (


Saturday, March 24, 2012

We waste lives and resources by having the world's largest prison population

"The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s not just many more than in most other developed countries but seven to 10 times as many. Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and ­Britain - with a rate among the ­highest - has 153....
This wide gap between the U.S. and the rest of the world is relatively recent. In 1980 the U.S.’s prison population was about 150 per 100,000 adults. It has more than quadrupled since then. So something has happened in the past 30 years to push millions of Americans into prison.
That something, of course, is the war on drugs. Drug convictions went from 15 inmates per 100,000 adults in 1980 to 148 in 1996, an almost tenfold increase. More than half of America’s federal inmates today are in prison on drug convictions. In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on drug charges, more than were arrested on assault or larceny charges."

Again it seems to me we are a paranoid nation. We outspend the rest of the world on our military, and we imprison more people per capita than any other country.  Why?  Are we attacked more?  Do we have worse people?  I chalk it up to paranoia.  Part of this comes from "get tough" political rhetoric used to win votes.  We're too soft on criminals!  The world is a scary place!  Iran might get a nuke!  So these guys get voted in, then they live up to their rhetoric by spending on guns and prisons.

Did you know there are countries without a military?  Did you know China has fewer people in prison than the US?  What's going on?  Why the fear?

Here's a bit more info;

Thursday, March 22, 2012

China makes changes in leadership, outlook

"The cautious 5th session of the 11th NPC appears to be an effort to sweep under the carpet the rising contradiction within the country. A closer look suggests strong currents of dissent, and new ideas swirling underneath. The world’s second largest economy and third powerful army may not be having a sound sleep."

After reading this, it's clear that China has plenty of internal problems to keep them busy and worried.  It's also nice to see that they have to at least listen to the voices of their bloggers now, giving them at least a taste of political influence.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When the economy dies, barter will rise

"The network is currently busy transforming a disused building owned by Volos university into a permanent exchange and barter space. It will host a daily market from next month at which members can meet and exchange without using cash. Several highly successful open-air markets were held throughout last summer, Choupis said, until the weather got too cold.
'They're quite joyous occasions,' she said. 'It's very liberating, not using money.'"

The only down side to this I see is that as more and more of the Greek economy winds up in barter, the less and less taxes are collected, and again the government never gets out of its hole.  Other than that, sounds great!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Maker movement

This article covers several aspects of the Maker movement. This is a sort of crowd-source invention and creation movement with rules to keep things simple and flexible.  The 3-D printer is the latest gadget to catch on.

This movement encourages invention and development amongst the masses, it opens up creativity to more tools and users, and it spurs the economy in a useful direction.  Well done.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lecturing students is so 20th century

"PowerPoint is boring. Student attention spans are short. Today many facts pop up with a simple Google search. And plenty of free lectures by the world's greatest professors can be found on YouTube.
Is it time for more widespread reform of college teaching?
This series explores the state of the college lecture, and how technologies point to new models of undergraduate education."

I have to Bachelors degrees.  I've sat through plenty of boring lectures.  There has to be a better way, especially with today's students with shorter attention spans.  This looks like a good start.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chinese village starts voting!

"Residents of a southern Chinese fishing village have gathered to elect a new administrative authority that many hail as a model for greater democracy in China following an uncompromising confrontation over land grabs and abuse of power.
Saturday's vote for the committee governing Wukan went ahead with official approval after a long campaign by local people to end what they say was years of corrupt rule by Communist Party officials."

This has potential!  If China gradually turns democratic, it will change the world.

Friday, March 2, 2012

stop subsidies to oil companies

"President Barack Obama, turning his political sights on snowy New Hampshire, demanded that Congress eliminate oil and gas company subsidies that he called an outrageous government "giveaway." Though politically a long shot, the White House believes the idea resonates at a time of high gasoline prices."

Is there any justification for giving subsidies to corporations that make more money than most governments?  No.