It was the vision of the founding fathers to have a nation of independent, land-owning farmers. Each farm run by a man who was the equal of his peers in freedom and opportunity. Wealth may be inherited but much of it was to be determined by personal enterprise, not to mention the ambitions of the creator …
It is a common belief that a complex entity derives much of its character from the characteristics of its component parts. In a remote colony aspiring for independence, the nation, as a republic, was to be formed in turn by independent states, composed of democratically-run communities, comprised of independent, self-determined farmers, each man his own lord over his private fiefdom. E pluribus unum — from many, one. The strength of independent men makes the strength of the communities makes the strength of the states makes the strength of the Republic, the sum of our national strength, to stand in defiance of the awesome might of the British Empire.
The conservative philosophy is that the moral failings of our government and power structures are the result of moral failures among the constituents that represent society as a whole. Their solution is too often a reaction — we will impose morality. Abortion will be illegal, as will self-serving homosexual relationships. We will seek to weave the notion of Godliness through the public discourse, for it is only through Jesus Christ, our savior, that redemption, and thus morality, is to be found.
But morality is not something you can get from the law, or from uttering some profession of faith. Morality comes from honest dialog with the self and those around the self. Morality comes from looking at the other as a different version of the self, and accepting that as a point from which to work with others. In short, morality comes from personal initiative, and requires independence and responsibility. Morality comes from the need to choose morality. (more…)
Almighty God hath created the mind free . . . All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens . . . are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion . . . No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.
Inscription on the Jefferson Memorial
Taken from A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, 1777.
“Can I ask a silly question?”
“Yes, I think you just have.”
Well, although my nation isn’t participating in the Kyoto protocol, I still take the bus to work, which is really nice because in bad traffic I get more time to read.
The Japanese national I live with observed that we were somewhat lacking in hot water last night. We are still lacking this morning. One might think the hot water heater is busted and the building people will repair it soon, but in the mean time, today is a good day to skip the hot water and pretend, for just a moment, that we are a bit greener.
Hehe, this is good, it appears that Microsoft has physical banner ads around Redmond bragging of MSN search. It says “pizza in redmond” … suggesting, of course, that if you go to msn.com, and type “pizza in redmond” you should be able to find pizza.
MSN’s competitors get it right, but MSN search ends up with . . . janitorial supplies!
The repeated search attempt made by seattlepi.com kind of remind me of some of the early early experiences with Tellme. I wrote a Caltrain schedule app way back in the day before the advent of VXML. “Mountain View,” I’d say, with my midwestern accent. “Millbrae?” “Moun-TEN View …” I would shout back. “San Francisco Fourth and King.” “No, you f_cker, I said Mountain View!!”
But, at least Tellme didn’t go advertizing their speech recognition features without first making sure they worked.
Skype is an Instant Messenger client with a twist — if you hook up a microphone you can CALL each other. Like a telephone, only you can see if your buddy is online before you interrupt them. The audio quality is very good, and clients are available for Windows, OS X, and Linux. The Linux client works on FreeBSD.
Even nicer, you can dial out on Skype, for exceedingly low rates. It costs us about 3c a minute to call Japan, though we’re going to get Noriko-san on Skype soon enough, and then the calls will be free.
If anyone wants to try it out, you can ring me at dannymanTM.
To answer a question you may have on your mind, Skype is not a telephone, so it is different from a VOIP service, where they send you a telephone that you hook up to your broadband. Instead, Skype is a way of making telephone calls from your computer. Unfortunately, people can not yet dial in to someone using Skype.
For me, though, it is as if the Internet has come full-circle: we used to have to find a cheap local number to dial in to the Internet on our existing telephone. Now, we are finding cheap services to make telephone calls on our existing Internet connection. Yow!
“Cry Havoc and let loose that lady’s ladle!”
I work in the Bishop Ranch Office Megaplex. It is an enchanted dominion of beige and white office buildings, stretching two miles through the heart of San Ramon, CA. Our own building has a variation on a theme of steel and glass and fountains with abstract steel sculpture. We have a suite on one of the five stories, my private office has a view of Mount Diablo, and any time I pace the walkways around the open inner court I can spy somewhere the lady assigned to keep our spotless shiny building clean, dusting a steel handrail or some other task critical to structural shinyness.
It is like something out of Star Trek. We even have aliens: smaller, browner Indians from somewhere deep inside Mexico, who are always outdoors, somewhere around the complex, planting flowers, fixing the fountains, replacing shrubbery with other shrubbery. I’m told that every few months the plants in the lobby are replaced with other plants. Some plants are plastic, some plants are organic. All the plants share a common destiny: they will only stay a while in our lobby, before moving on, probably to another lobby.
When I started here in November they had opened a new cafe in our local complex, which was replacing the cafe that had been there previously. This cafe is called the Lost Ladle, and I have bought many morning pastries and lunch time sandwiches there. Good quality, good value, and some friendly faces. I’m told that it was better than the cafe that was there before.
This morning my pastry was half price. Today is their last day. In a couple of weeks, a new cafe, the Cactus Cafe, will open in its place. Rotated out of the complex, some Alliterative Alternative, to keep my own race of pasty-faced desk jockeys from becoming too complacent or bored with our office environment. Or something like that. I suspect the space is contracted out and whomever is there is often underbid. Anyway, for better or for worse, it shakes up my view of my little planet.
“There he goes, one of God’s own prototypes. Some kind of high-powered mutant, never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, too rare to die.”
On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, you might enjoy some audio and video of a speech and an interview with Malcolm X, at the University of California at Berkeley in 1963. That being over fifty years ago, it is a nice time to pause and reflect on the evolution of race relations in America over the past forty years.
Happy President’s Day.
If you want to listen to KQED using FreeBSD, install mplayer:
UPDATE: I just discovered the -playlist feature. So, this works even better:
mplayer -playlist http://www.kqed.org/w/streamingfiles/kqed_wmp.asx
I have also figured out how to convert the Windows Media Player stream in to mp3 files, and may set up a system to “record” programs on a regular schedule, at which point I can listen to public radio as I would watch TV on a DVR. (Radio TiVo!)
If anyone might be interested in getting in on a non-RealAudio “NPR audio archive” via a bittorrent setup, I’d love to hear from you.
(In tribute to and with apologies to the late Hunter Thompson . . .)
We were just outside San Jose when the technology lifestyle began to kick in. Diploma in hand, I was offered a job in Mountain View, as chief IT monkey for an Internet startup. I was sufficiently underqualified that the job presented a compelling challenge, and a great salary, for a cocky young English major from Illinois, so how could I ever refuse? Fellow alumni and I were recruited by the tens of thousands, and found ourselves settling in the Silicon Valley in quick, overpopulated waves in a mad dash for riches; In my mind, we were the ’99ers, the prospectors from out East who had followed the gold rush to California as the original ’49ers had done a century and a half before. (more…)
So, a user has a laptop whose batteries are shot, and he needs a working battery before travelling next week. (more…)
This past week I read an article in the New Yorker magazine about the policy of my government to secretly kidnap terrorism suspects, without any due process, and to hand them over to foreign governments to be “rendered,” which is a euphemism for “tortured.” There are many in law enforcement who have grave doubts about the efficacy of torture. If you torture a man, he will pretty much tell you anything you want to hear. And, you can not use testimony from, or evidence that leads back to torture in a legal trial. Anyway, the article, found in the Feb 14 & 21, 2005 issue, is very long, very engaging, and left me feeling very disgusted and frustrated and just plain old upset. What follows is the last section of the article, that briefly puts a human story to the situation. It is with a heavy heart that I type this out, but the story bears being re-told. (more…)
I am an NPR junkie, and my new place gets awful reception. And for a long time I have admired TiVo and wondered if my life might not be better if I had a DVR for NPR programs. Add to that KQED’s obnoxious plugin/popup window and the fact that I use an older version of RealAudio to avoid Spyware, which stutters and rebuffers all the time, and I have enough motivation to rig up something different.
I have rigged up a simple system to schedule rips of programs broadcast on the KQED audio stream in to easily manageable .mp3 files. If I had one of them iPod thingies I could even listen to the radio programs on the bus. I might even get around to warezing this to interested friends via BitTorrent and CSS, which would leave us another technical explanation. (more…)
I’m flipping through the latest New Yorker, which this week has page after page of old New Yorker covers. This seems like a cheap ploy at generating the week’s content except that every New Yorker cover is, literally, a piece of art. Some are from way back, and so I have never seen them before. Others are familiar to me because I have been a subscriber for about two years. I turn from a full-page ad for Microsoft and see an old acquiantance. (more…)
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