Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why I Won't Vote for The Donald (Trump) ...

The Donald certainly seems to be a successful businessman. He definitely has a higher net worth than I do. He's built a lot of high dollar properties, employed more people, etc. From the standpoint of someone who might be able to improve the American business climate, I'm guessing he'll do a MUCH better job than our current Prevaricator Of The United States could ever do. He'd probably do a better job of negotiating with our "frenemies" such as China, Russia, Mexico, and Venezuela.

But I don't think these issues are at the core of our problems in the United States. The base issue, is that we are no longer following the principles of our Constitution. The Constitution assigns separate powers to the separate branches of the Federal Government. This separation was broken many years ago. When Congress gave the Executive Branch the authority to create regulations through different agencies that would have the force of law, Congress gave up it's  Legislative power to the Executive branch. Until this President came into office, the Executive branch has been somewhat circumspect about creating new Laws/Regulations. But the current Prevaricator Of The United States, has gone overboard. Things had been getting worse slowly, but it has greatly accelerated in these last two terms.

The reason I won't vote for The Donald, is he appears to be oblivious to this. He speaks of making better deals, about creating jobs, etc. But nothing about our Constitution and how it is being ignored. He's said nothing about how he would try to fix that. So, if he gets into office, things will only get worse NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES.

He will not restore our freedom, because he does not really understand the Constitution ...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hyper - Hypocritical Harry?

Recently, Dirty Harry made a speech on the Senate floor about the "racist" NFL. Apparently, he feels any reference to Indians is some sort of derogatory remark. You can read about it here.

So, I did a cursory search on the interweb about Indian related names in the glorius home state of Dirty Harry, Nevada. Here's what about 10 seconds of searching found (not guaranteed to be complete).

Mesquite (derived from an Aztec name)

Of course, it's not enough to just rename the cities and counties. You have to rename all the government buildings, libraries, school districts, schools, school teams, possibly junior college teams, and even private business that use the name of the city / county in their business name.

Clean up your own house first, Harry!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Facebook Is No Longer Trustworthy ...

I've been pondering the issue raised by recent disclosures that Facebook "altered" views of some test subjects Timelines. It did this by "hiding" either negative posts, or "positive" posts for certain viewers, and then measuring whether this had a negative or positive effect on the posts placed later by the viewers (if I understand the experiment correctly).

The big brouhaha has been about whether Facebook had violated some ethical rules regarding conducting psychological experiments. There's a very nice discussion here about this aspect of the issue.

However, from my perspective, everyone is missing the real point. Facebook violated its social contract with its subscribers. When we sign up for Facebook, it's understood that Facebook will use our data in managing and optimizing its relationship with advertisers. That's how Facebook makes revenue for itself. We sign up knowing this, in exchange for free services to communicate our thoughts and feelings to others; friends, family, the world, depending on our security settings. However, we have an expectation, and a reasonable one, that Facebook will present that representation of ourselves faithfully. In other words, what I post is what others see. 

Facebook violated that trust. Their experiment involved un-faithfully representing people's presentation of themselves to their friends, family and the world. In other words, I can no longer trust that Facebook will faithfully and truthfully present my representation of myself. 

In this case, Facebook simply "removed" some posts that other viewed. Imagine: I go to my Facebook page, and see every post I've made. However, someone else going to my page sees a different set of posts. That's not good. I can no longer trust that my friends are viewing everything I want them to see. 

But it gets worse. Now that Facebook has shown it is willing to "hide" some posts, what's to stop them from experimenting and "adding" some posts? First, it might be posts about products. Let's say I click on a particular ad when I visit my own page three times in a row. Facebook could easily "add" a post such as, "I'm really interested in this product! I'm thinking of buying it!" with an embedded link to the product page. That might lead my friends to click on it as well. Facebook could easily "hide" this post from me when I visit my own page. And hide any responses from friends to this made-up post. Suppose I'm applying for a new job. And Facebook has "chosen" my account as one of the "subjects" to which posts will be added and viewed by others than me. I might not get that job because my potential employer saw something they didn't like, THAT I NEVER POSTED AND I NEVER SAW!

Later, it could be posts about something else; politics, religion; anything. And what's to stop them? Nothing, really. 

They've already demonstrated a willingness to mess with your page and what other people see on it. And they whole-heartedly did NOT apologize. They merely stated that they had poorly communicated what they had done.

Think of it this way. You're married. Your spouse, for unknown reasons, and unbeknownst to you, starts telling stories about you: he's cheating on me; he hits me; he molests the children. All of a sudden you're friends start treating you differently than they have in the past. Perhaps the police start investigating you. Finally, you find out what your spouse has done. And what does your spouse do? Doesn't apologize, just says "Well, I guess I could have communicated it to you in a better fashion..."

Would you ever trust that spouse again?

I no longer trust Facebook ...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Proud of Your Ignorance?

Granted, I’m a curmudgeon, and take umbrage at things that other’s might easily overlook or forgive. But making simple spelling mistakes on an email blast that represents your company to the world does not strike me as a way to make a great impression. I received this email today:


I’m sure whatever tool was used to create the original email had some spell check capability.

Is this company too proud to use a spell checker? If they’re not willing, or not smart enough, to use spell checking on a public document, what confidence do you have they will be careful with the work they do for you?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Boycott Mozilla?

Given how the new CEO of Mozilla was hounded out of Mozilla by a bunch of intolerant employees, I've decided to never again use any Mozilla products. Firefox has been removed from every computer in my, albeit small, company.

As a Libertarian, I believe any consulting adult should be allowed to enroll into a civil union with as many other consenting adults as they choose. Sanctifying a civil union through a church, temple, or synagogue should be strictly a religious matter. And that religious organization should be free to accept or refuse to sanctify any union they choose. That's what freedom of association, and freedom of religion are about.

However, the tactics of the loud mouthed, self-righteous, intolerant employees of Mozilla, and that stupid OKCupid web-site, are too much for me.

Their behavior smacks of the tactics and goals of every modern totalitarian,  fascist regime that has existed since the beginning of the 20th century. I want nothing to do with them.

So, I am going to boycott Mozilla because of the intolerance of their company, for their punishing of someone who exercised his Constitutional rights in a manner that they deemed inappropriate, and for their absolute ignorance and hypocrisy of what free discourse means.

I hope others will join me, and eventually the company devolves into bankruptcy, and the loud-mouthed peons with their silent supporters are out on the street without a job. Nothing would be a more fitting result.
(this is a repost from another blog of mine, theDotNetTavern)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Should Any Organization Be Tax Exempt?

Recently, one of our local weekly papers published a Letter to the Editor from a gentleman who indicated he was upset that the Boy Scouts of America were tax-exempt. He felt that as they "discriminate" against gays that they should not be eligible to receive a tax-exemption. The writer made a point in his letter that he is on on the board of directors of one of our local Lutheran churches.  I responded to his letter with my own. The editor modified my letter slightly, which I repeat below, but did not change the general nature or intent of my original.
Regarding the recent letter writer who suggested the Boy Scouts of America should lose their tax-exempt status because he doesn't like their policies: perhaps he should consider how many other tax-exempt entities discriminate. 
The Girl Scouts: they are guilty of gender discrimination. They won't accept my son as a member. Like the BSA, their oath requires the members serve God and their faith. Surely that's a problem for girls whose families are agnostic or atheist. Cut them off. No exemption for them. Don't let them use the church facilities. Or how about the Black Chamber of Commerce, La Raza or Asian-American anything? Surely their names tell it all. They discriminate on the basis of race. No tax exemption for them. 
Or how about those Muslims, Catholics and Jews? You have to learn their Koran, Bible or Torah, and possibly (if male) get circumcised before you join those guys. You can't be an atheist and join those groups. Religious discrimination. 
Come to think of it, why are any of these groups tax-exempt? Why should I be forced to pay to make up for the lost revenue from any of the above sources? While I agree with the purposes of the BSA and the GSA, I'm against the ethnic this or that of anything, and just about every organized religion, including the letter writer's Lutheran religion. "He among you who is without sin, let him first cast a stone ... "

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gun Control: Good Politics, But Bad Policy?

According to the Brookings Institute, Mr. Obama has a plan to increase the implementation of "evidence-based" policy (See here...). Oh really?

Let's look at some gun control evidence. I went to the FBI site and downloaded one of their many tables of statistics (See here ...). The table I downloaded was table 20 (homicides by state/weapon). I then added some columns of my own to perform some simple calculations (See my download link at the end of this post).

The results are pretty simple. Of the 12,000+ homicides in 2011, 8,000+ were by firearm, or about 68% - slightly more than 2/3. Of the 8,000+ homicides by firearms, 72% were by handgun, and only 8% were by a combination of rifle or shotgun. The other 20% by firearm, the FBI couldn't tell if it was by handgun or not. Let's asssume, for the sake of argument that the percentage of the "unknown type" reflects the same percentage as the known, and we get approximately: 90% by handgun, 10% by rifle or shotgun.

So the first elephant in the room here is that people are making noise about creating policy that addresses less than 10% of the "problem". I say less than 10%, because that 10% covers both rifles and shotguns, and so far as I know, no one is talking about controls for shotguns. After all, shotguns are something that Mr. Obama and friends supposedly shoot quite often ...

So what type of "evidence-based" policy ignores 90% of the "problem" but is still considered good policy?

Now let's look at some Center For Disease Control (CDC) statistics. These are 2010 data - the best I could  find on their web-site. This comes from Table 10 (deaths from 113 different causes)(See here...). They have death by homicide with a firearm at 11,078. About 3,000 more than the 2011 FBI numbers, but within the same ball-park. Notably, 2010 was a worse year than 2011. Another elephant in the room: if the death by firearm numbers are falling (which they are), why are we trying to make policy about 10% of a declining problem? Is it wise to spend our money on problems that are declining on their own?

Finally, from the same CDC table, death by suicide for the year was 38,364 of which 19,392 was by firearm, or roughly half. Now, suicide with a long gun, is possible, but more difficult. If you have short arms, you either need assistance (which makes it not suicide?), or you use your toes to push the trigger - or maybe some weird Rube Goldberg mechanism.

The third elephant in the room is that the suicide rate by firearm is 175% of the homicide rate by firearm. In fact, the total suicide rate is almost exactly twice the total homicide rate. Maybe "evidence-based" policy would indicate we should first spend some of our money on reducing the overall suicide rate. Wouldn't it make more sense to solve the bigger problems before the smaller problems?

It seems the room is getting pretty crowded. And elephant s**t isn't all that different from bull s**t.

So far, it looks to me that "talking" about good, "evidence-based" policy is a lot better politics than it is good policy ...

My version of the FBI table mentioned above can be found here ...