Romneycare Upheld by Supremes; Romney Livid

“Romneycare”, also sometimes called “Obamacare” except NPR (National Public Radio) who call it “National Healthcare Law”, has been upheld by the Supremes. Not the Motown band, but the Supreme Court. Presidential candied-date Romney, who inspired the law, spoke from a balcony in Washington D.C. with the capitol as a backdrop, disclaiming and divorcing himself from his creation whilst drooling bile. He insisted “The only way to get rid of [Romneycare] is to vote for me, Mitt Romney, for president”. This implied that he would somehow single-handedly overturn the Supreme Court, leaving him to personally kill his child. I’ve come to call the legislation “O’RomnaBomneyCare” to celebrate the delicious ironies that are presented.

The entire picture was surreal, but the fallout from the Supreme’s decision is worth noting. Everyone will be able to get health insurance, regardless of “pre-existing conditions”, and regardless of their income. The quality of that insurance is certain to be unequal across the classes, which should please Republicans who are otherwise put out. The cost of health insurance should come down, but probably won’t, leaving plenty of room for more legal wrangling and lobbying with consequent coke-and-callgirl parties to blow off steam and stress in Washington. Children will continue to be able to benefit from parent’s health insurance, leaving no doubt that the average 26 year-old is about as mature as an 18 year-old was 30 years ago. Insurance companies will profit even more than before, as every citizen (and illegal immigrant) will become a customer under the force of law. And that’s just for starters. For more unbiased reporting on this development, and the current state of affairs in general, I suggest “This Modern World” by Tom Tomorrow.

Dark Cloud: Big Brother is Watching Your DropBox

I’ve been working with my iPad and iTouch (an iPhone without the 3Gphone). The apps make frequent use of “The Cloud” for data sharing, export, and backup. Very convenient.

The problem is, the Cloud is like Facebook. While Facebook provides the FBI (and other government spook agencies) convenient access to alphabetized lists of your friends and acquaintances, along with phone number, email addresses, scheduling/calendar info, and more, the Cloud provides easy access to all personal data stored there. Easy access not just for you, but for others like criminals, banks, insurance agencies, and most incredibility (not)  – the Federal Government.

If I were the author of one of those free apps that store data in the cloud, I’d be tempted to take generous payments from the government to provide full access to the data. Wouldn’t you? Of course it’s hush-hush, but it’s all on the up-and-up. After all, it’s the Government, isn’t it? Aren’t they the ones who decide what’s right and wrong? What could possibly be wrong about taking money from the Government?

The Buying Out of American Business

The US Government learned a valuable lesson in the Savings and Loan banking crisis of the 1980’s. When it bailed out the banks, it essentially nationalized them, turning them into stoolies for the government, reporting every transaction over $8,000 and even much smaller transactions that, for any reason, might seem “suspicious”. You don’t suppose that’s been used against anyone in a personal vendetta by a government employee or elected official, do you?

Why stop with the banks? After all, most marketing-savvy businesses are avid collectors of information about their customers and even just hapless prospects. Why not just buy it from them and support big business instead of big government? It almost sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

“Eyeball Networks” – the ISPs that service Internet consumers – are all picking up on this trend. They’re the ones in the best position to hand off records of all your Internet activities. Comcast charges $800/month to the Feds for each customer the government wants to snoop on. That’s way more money than they make for selling and servicing cable television to consumers, and with TIA (the Total Information Awareness program) is happy to pay with taxpayer dollars.

We learned recently another large ISP is earning millions selling the government the bits of data generated each time a computer looks up a hostname (e.g. on the Internet This includes identifying data such as your IP address.

Why stop there? Feds can simply buy your credit records. And, they can get your cloud data from Apple, Microsoft, DropBox, backup services like Mozy and Carbonite. It’s easy. It’s good for the economies of businesses taking the payoffs. It’s easy for the government.

How are YOU feeling about it? What is your threshold for this kind of abuse?

“My Cloud and Only My Cloud”

If you’ve browsed through this blog site, you know I write a lot about privacy. Enough so you should know, as I do, that we don’t have a shred of it, thanks to the Internet and “Total Information Awareness” by the government in the name of “fighting terrorism” and “ensuring our safety”. Left with the choice of rolling over and accepting that, or making some effort to claim or reclaim some of the rights, like, yes, privacy, that have been stolen from us, I choose the latter. My views are not universally shared. Translation: a lot of people don’t give a damn because their heads are buried so far up where the sun don’t shine. There are entertainment devices there too, no doubt, along with the concomitant snooping devices.

It with the foregoing backdrop that I took some pleasure today in reading a product review on Amazon. The review was for a product that lets you set up your own “cloud storage” on your existing Internet connection without monthly fees, without relinquishing your data as property you posses, and without service agreements that remind you that “authorities” can swoop in and demand access to your data (without you ever being aware of it) at any time. I quote:

I have yet to make the jump to cloud computing, because I guess that I just don’t trust it. I want control of my personal photos and documents and I don’t want anybody peeping in on them unless I authorize them. Oh I know, those cloud people say that everything is secure, but let big brother come along with their paperwork and watch how fast your personal info is shared with them. Then there is the problem of hackers.

— Island Dreamer

Thank you, Island Dreamer. I wish you knew how you cheered me up a bit with that spontaneous bit of backbone you showed. If only… if only…

Bon Voyage, Dick Clark

One of the less delightful things about aging is seeing the population of your friends and acquaintances dwindle. I hereby mourn the loss of Dick Clark, one of those whom we feared might be immortal, but turned out to be mortal after all.

I made my acquaintance with Dick on the set of the “$10,000 Pyramid” game show at a decrepit old ABC studio on, I believe it was 57th street, in NYC back in the 1980’s. I was an engineer at ABC at the time. The cameras and studio equipment were on their last legs. The studio was dusty and dirty, as was the set. The set had cobwebs and scuff marks all over it. The set was drenched in light so bright you had to struggle to avoid squinting. The effect of all that light was to wash away the scuff marks, cobwebs, dust, and flaws in the images produced by the dottering cameras. Unfortunately, it also washed away the color and features of the caucasian faces that populated the stage, so Dick and the contestants wore a fair amount of makeup so they would look normal under all that light.

Dick was relaxed, and looking some 20 or more years younger than he was. Close up, and not viewed through the camera, TV pancake makeup doesn’t hide much, rather it tends to accentuate imperfections. Dick had a perfect smile, real hair, and looked 30 even though he was in his 50’s at that time. No wrinkles were evident. It was truly amazing. I thought “the rumors are true; he’s immortal”. I wondered how old he really was… hundreds, thousands, millions of years?

The folks in the control room weren’t so relaxed. They didn’t like being stuck in such an old, out-of-date studio, and they wanted to get out of there. A technical problem that was beyond their responsibility needed fixing. As I took care of it, Dick chatted with the contestants, technicians, and me in the same, casual and engaging way he did on-camera. Neither his surroundings, not the technical problems seemed to have any effect on his sunny disposition. I wrapped up my work there, and approached him to say goodbye. “It was so nice to meet you” I said. He looked me dead in the eye like it was a TV camera, smiled, and said “nice to meet you too, and thanks for coming down to take care of us!”. His response was totally genuine. I made it a point to occasionally drop by and say hello or exchange a wave and a smile.

People like Dick Clark was are a minority in the TV business. Far too many, who I will not name here, are temperamental, obnoxious, rude, impatient, and/or spoiled.

Goodbye, Dick. I’m glad I met you briefly while you were in this world.


Malicious Blog Comment Spam

It never ceases to amaze me the amount of effort that is put into spamming, when the results are so statistically low. Every day we get hundreds of poorly crafted comments to this blog posted by bots in the hopes of having a web link appear. It’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) spam that’s done in hopes of raising ranking on Google and the like. Google, for the most part, ignores this stuff, so the people doing it are a pretty ignorant lot. As are most spammers. After all, if they had some brains, they’d be making more money with less work, and not defecating where they live.

Today we found a much darker form of comment spam. It is malicious. It is a list of obscene words, links to child pornography sites, and the like that would trash the Google and other online reputations if it appeared on the site.

That’s the price of publishing a blog. If you want to maintain any kind of reputation, you have to manually moderate all comments. You can’t simply block IPs because there are zillions of spammers, and not all in the third world. We have logged hundreds in Los Angeles, for example. And so, spammers create jobs for comment moderators. There’s a duality operative here. For each badness of the spammers, a relative goodness manifests to counter it. Cat and mouse. Good cop, bad cop. White hat, black hat. Oh the wonder of the human race! Makes you wonder…


Protest History Repeats: American Spring 60’s Style

As I write this, I’m watching it play out on live TV, and the same is happening across the country. It’s a marvelous awaking, but following a tried-and true plot:

Peaceful protesters gather at the local capitol building. They refuse to move. The politicians and/or police allow it for a while, but then feel that it makes them look bad. They try to break it up, first trying to bully the crowd through bull horns. It doesn’t work. Next, they make threats. The people refuse to move. Finally, the police move in, make mass arrests, and cart as many people off to jail as they feel comfortable with “processing”.

People see this on TV, and it makes them even more angry. More and more people join the movement. More show up to protest, taking time away from their home, family, business, or job. The government, wanting to stop the movement, cracks down, and there are more arrests, and more live TV coverage, which goes wall-to-wall.

This is history repeating itself. It’s the same formula as the 1960’s anti-Vietnam war protests, and the civil rights protests of that era. The current crop of politicians, ignorant of the role of government, and the role of people in a democracy as they are, have not learned from history, and now they are doomed to repeat it. They’ve foolishly allowed their ego and greed to trap them, and now they will get what they deserve, just like the corrupt and power-mad dictators in the Middle East are.

I wonder what has been going through the minds of these leaders as they’ve watched the Arab Spring unfold, which should have been as clear a warning as they could possibly have received: there was little time for them to repent and reform their bad attitudes and behavior. But now, that brief moment is past, and the cows are coming home, literally.

We are seeing people-power in action. It is an unstoppable force, as surely as a herd of cows or a flock of sheep. Nothing can stop it. Not throngs of police officers in riot gear armed with tear gas and rubber bullets, not helicopters armed with heavy weapons. Not huge prisons the government has secretly built in remote areas to deal with just such an “emergency”. The people, once mobilized, will prevail.

We are still in the early stages of this movement. However, it is easy to predict that the movement will continue to swell. As long as the protests are met with violence and punitive resistance by the government, the protesters will only be emboldened because their point is simply being underscored unwittingly by the government.

The poor, ignorant fools in power don’t see how closely they resemble the pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm. The outcome for them will likely be just as foreshadowed in that book. If you haven’t read it, and want to get the picture of what’s happening, be sure to read it now. Or, if you’re not a reader, watch the animated film.

It is truly an irony that Martin Luther King has only recently been memorialized so close to the temples and monuments to the founding forefathers in Washington DC. Mr. King, more than Facebook and Twitter, is the true enabler of this global movement. He, and those who stand on his shoulders, made it crystal clear that people power is the most awesome force on this planet, and that no amount of violence and repression can prevail against it.

Now, many years after Mr. King’s assassination, his ideas have fully come to fruition on a global scale. It is impressive to see it unfold. Are we seeing what all the predictions concerning 2012 were about in this? Could it be that the cataclysm of 2012 is about mankind confronting itself?

Meanwhile, back on the television set nearby, the police have been loading protestors onto paddy wagons, processing them, and hauling them off to already crowded jails. It’s a muted form of violence, to be sure. But the unrepentant behavior of the corrupted government reminds me of the (paraphrased) words attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and P.T. Barnum alike: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”. The people, collectively, if not individually, are not fooled by government.

See also:

Wikipaedia article about George Orwell’s Animal Farm

Entire 1954 Animated Film (“sanitized version”; overthrow by second revolution)

Entire 1999 Live Action Film (regime collapses on itself)

Obama’s Jobs Speech and Legislation: Still too soft?

President Obama’s Jobs Speech sounded hopeful. The delivery was excellent. I did not see it, but rather heard it on the radio. It’s easy to misinterpret the sound of applause, politicians being the actors they are. On the other hand, when listening only, one gets more of the intended content and the writing than when confronted with all the visual distractions.

Putting people back to work in public works projects is something some have been begging the administration to do for some time. It worked in the past, but in today’s divisive and corruption laden environment, it remains to be seen if the pork can be kept out of the beans, as Obama promised in his speech.

Extending unemployment for another year is at odds with putting people back to work. Some have been on unemployment for many years now, and I believe that is just wrong. It’s not just my personal experience; I’m one of those who has steadily paid into the system, and yet have never qualified for Unemployment Insurance even when I needed it most. It’s not sour grapes, but I am here to report that I made it through just fine, and although at times I had to search hard for work, and sometimes settle for what some would see as menial jobs, I perservered. So, in my view, many who are on the dole appear to be either lazy or gaming the system.

Despite the media reports, which are based on official numbers, which are based on a lot of bull, it can be observed that there are plenty of jobs available. Illegal Mexican immigrants continue to stream across the border to take them, because hardly any Americans will “lower themselves” to take the jobs the Mexicans will. There are service jobs everywhere, and that has increased steadily in the last year. Reports indicate that $99,000/yr jobs are going begging in the latest oil boomtowns in North Dakota, where Walmart sells out every day and McDonald’s pays workers $15/hr and still needs more.

In the face of the empirical evidence, it seems wrong to extend Unimployment Insurance. I fear the manifestation of a “lost generation” of workers who have no job skills, no understanding of how to look for, perform on, and keep a job. This is a crowd lacking in determination, with a sense of entitlement to an income, or worse, a job that requires no work. Such a generation would be a drag on the economy for as long as they live. True, ending the extensions to UI would cause some pain, but clearly, there are some who need to feel some pain. And the pain of our current economic situation is something that should be shared: for unless that happens, there will be insufficient motivation to the populace to drag our sorry butts out of the pit we’re in.

Back to the Obama proposals, I wish them well. His bill goes beyond anything the pain-averse lamer politicians in the Congress and Senate could come up with. That bunch needs to be sent out into the fields to pick fruit and nudge out some of the illegal workers. It would be a hit on their income and a rude awakening, but something they desperately need.

That’s my two cents. What’s yours?

The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging

I decided to catch up on politics a little before my vacation ended. I don’t watch TV, so I used my Internet device that’s designed to allow the cable company and websites more completely monitor my every move. I pulled in “State of the Union” with Candy Crowly (“the bear”). She was Interviewing some Republican would-be contender.

I had just seen some clips of Sarah Palin squeaking and barking like an obese prairie dog begging for chocolate by the side of the road. I’d also seen President Obama pontificating in New Jersey, flanked by the local limelight-seeking politicians, before an illegal migrant whose home had been wiped out by the flooding. The illegal was sobbing, and it seemed as if Obama, in a flash of cognition, grasped that the woman was not impressed by his pontificating. He stopped his spiel, bent over her, and put his arm around her shoulder in a choreographed display of political correctness. He said to the woman in an unconvincing attempt to be empathetic: “it’s hard, I understand.” The woman sobbed even harder, and the program cut back to the anchor.

And so, when a Republican functionary exposed bits of his underbelly to “the bear” in return for a shot at nearly an hour of TV time, I couldn’t help but feel that the whole thing was, like, so last week. Where are the aliens when we need them? Not the illegals, but the ones from outer-space. We desperately need something new in the way of leadership, but Democrats and Republicans just don’t seem to be up to it.

So, my vacation is over, and I’ll have to return to Earth. I’ll watch as the Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging, in the form of over a dozen Republican candidates, marches by. I’ll wish that the media didn’t have a blackout on Ron Paul’s candidacy. I’ll pray for a visitation by aliens with greater intelligence. I’ll hope that when they come, we don’t treat them like we did in District 9. I figure alien’s inhumanity to man can’t be much worse than man’s inhumanity to man, and may well be better. I’ll wish that Americans on Unemployment Insurance realized there are good paying jobs in North Dakota, and that they should get off their 90% (or whatever the percentage is) obese butts and go take those jobs, most of which pay way more than I make. Even if they’d rather watch their big screen TV’s and stay stuck where they are with their ex’s and weekend visitation. I’ll wish that President Obama would change that, but he’ll embrace and subsidize it further instead.

That’s my welcome back.

Retard Nation

First, an apology for the title. It should be “Imbecile Nation”, however, it seems too many people are unacquainted with the meaning of the word imbecile.

This post is about my visceral reaction to the Casey Anthony verdict.

I am appalled by the public reaction. I recognize that second-guessing jury verdicts is a popular pastime for the unemployed and people with too much time on their hands. I say this because there is a hint of lack of respect understanding of the judicial process. I worry that if there is no respect for the judicial process, however wrong or misguided it may be at times, or however activist the judge, or however unconstitutional the ruling, there will be no hope of justice ever.

And then, there is the reaction of politicians. I urge the rabble to exercise caution: be careful of what you ask for: you might get it. The proposed “Casey’s Law”. It seems that the brains of our politicians are so addled by drugs, lust, corruption, greed, and junk-food, that they…

Well, perhaps I just need a vacation… some place like where Casey Anthony should go to avoid being lynched to death by a crazed and angry mob. Of imbeciles.

[And oh, those ranting Facebook videos…]