E-mail feedback to esurance:
I flew Delta airlines yesterday. When the planes take off, after the safety video, the captive audience of passengers is subjected to a handful of television commercials. Personally, I take offense at being subjected to television commercials: I avoid gas stations and airlines that subject me to commercials. I don’t subscribe to cable TV, but pay to stream shows commercial-free online.
Yesterday one of the television commercials that was forced upon me was from esurance. Hey! I PAID for this insult! My desire to use esurance as my auto insurance provider was greatly diminished upon being forced to watch a television commercial.
As people continue to leave the commercial television system, cultural tolerance for commercial interruptions will decrease. This complaint is the tip of an iceberg that is growing before you. Please reconsider this practice of forcing your television commercials upon captive audiences before you alienate even more customers.
Voters in Mountain View, CA
I haven’t done any research, but I figured I would put in a vote for the cigarette tax, as well as local school bonds for asbestos removal. At current interest rates, government borrowing just sounds like an obvious thing to do.
I also got to vote for Obama for the Democratic Presidential Primary. His was the only name on my registered-Democrat ballot.
I am also hoping that the Cheeseheads give Governor Walker the boot.
Someone for whom I have a decent respect is winding down his reading of Atlas Shrugged. While I haven’t read Ayn Rand, I basically get that her shtick is that “self-centered material greed is good because it maximizes economic efficiency. If you waver from this conclusion you are a Communist.”
A comment I left on Facebook:
“Rewarding people who work hard to build wealth” is a key argument for those who desire to rationalize ever-greater disparity in the material welfare of the wealthy over the poor.
“Rewarding people who work hard” is a core objective of Communism.
“A regulatory system that provides fair governance and an incentive for economic efficiency through competition in order to realize the greatest material benefit for society as a whole” is pretty much the desired end of free market capitalism. That’s got three parts: fair regulation, competition, and social good.
Objectivism, like Communism, is like saying “I hate it when a stool has three legs. Things would be better off if the stool had only one leg.”
I likes me some free market economics but it seems like many in our nation have this religious devotion to the idea that everything would be better if there were minimal governance and if we stopped fretting over social welfare. Fortunately there seems to be a counter-argument being put forth, at last, which explains that “wealthy people don’t create jobs unless they have so much consumer demand that they have no choice but to hire more folks” and that “wealthy people are wealthy in large part because the government has built an economy in which there is sufficient infrastructure and a sufficiently educated work force for economic activity to be conducted profitably, and a legal and enforcement structure which removes uncertainty over what rules there are how whether they will be followed.”
If you want to be a Libertarian, I would argue that Somalia is a Libertarian Paradise. There is no government! Strictly speaking, its Anarchy, and whenever I’ve tried to get a Libertarian to explain what parts of government are absolutely necessary the answer has always come out to “only those parts I need to get what I think I want.”
Anyway, I think that if the government can reasonably afford to do so, it ought to, among other things, provide a floor of basic material welfare for its people. And in the interests of promoting a vigorous market system, the government should make an effort to educate its citizens, provide clear and rational regulations and enforcement of economic activity, and if we can ever figure it out, get to a state of Keynesian regulation where we put more capital into the economy when it is weak, and replenish government coffers in times of abundance. All of that effort is rarely efficient and there are lots of opportunities for unfairness and injustice. The government isn’t perfect but it is what we’ve got. The nice thing about Democracy is that we put a value on transparency and fixing of government problems . . .
. . . I’ll take a modern welfare state over Somalia any day of the week!
By the way, let’s say you have to print, sign, scan, and email back a document using the flatbed scanner attached to your Linux workstation. No trouble scanning in each page as an individual PDF document using XSane, but assembling the multipage project into one document proved a modest challenge last time I tried.
Solution? Install pdftk, and then the command goes something like:
pdftk AVID000*.pdf cat output AVID.pdf
That’s will merge all the documents named AVID0001.pdf, AVID0002.pdf, etc into AVID.pdf. Or to put it another way:
pdftk <a bunch of PDF files> cat output <target PDF file>
Folks clamoring for the Mayan Apocalypse this year can take some solace in a note I received this morning:
I’ve been making some changes to the game that
pretty much require a reset, I apologize for the
inconvenience, I don’t like to disrupt the game
in such an extreme way, but it will make things
much better, I think.
The 2 biggest changes are that I’m adding Nebulae
to the galaxy, and changing the combat system to
work better statistically.
If you have a question or a concern, or wish to
tell me off, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org,
I’m always willing to listen to concerns.
The last turn will run the morning of June 23rd,
and the new galaxy will be built on the 24th.
Depending on how you look at this: everybody wins!
I think toast is an underrated pinnacle of gustatory pleasure, and I frequently put different types of food on top of different types of toast. I just figured, hey, that’s just me, but apparently there is an entire nation that thinks this is a great idea:
Imran Ahmad is shocked to discover that Americans do not put food on toast.
From Imran Ahmad’s memoir “The Perfect Gentlemen”
I just saw a link to this article in my Google Reader.
I haven’t read it. I figure it reads something like this:
My God, blogging is sooo hard. Most people give up and start a Tumblr or a Twitter but some folks really have what it takes to stick with the blogging. Bully on them!
I’ll tell you, though, when you’ve been blogging for the better part of 20 years, and they build special blog software to help you do all your blogthings, it gets less difficult to click click click and copy-paste-type-type-type.
I’ve been “blogging” since 1995. I’m like freaking Chaucer. Blogchaucer, anyway.
A Prop 8 champion is having a change of heart:
Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its children.
At the level of first principles, gay marriage effaces that gift.
[ . . . ]
But there are more good things under heaven than these beliefs. For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I donâ€™t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever oneâ€™s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.
I think that there is more to marriage than children, and that those children who can not be adequately cared for by their birth parents are still entitled to be cared for by whatever competent and loving parents society can find for them. At any rate, I am glad to see a Prop 8 supporter come out of the closet and realize that the way to strengthen marriage is to focus on strengthening marriages, rather than denigrating homosexuals.
The other day they were talking about Aung San Suu Kyi on the radio, that the path she chose to follow was the path laid forth by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King. The idea is not to seek victory over the enemy, but to identify the universal capacity for virtue, to love the enemy and change the enemy’s heart, to be open to a more enlightened and equitable path. I feel that David Blankenhorn’s evolution here, along with the evolution of many Americans, is evidence that this sort of spiritual warfare is carrying the day in my country.
I love the smell of progress in the morning.
A quiet morning with Maggie.
An e-mail recently sent regarding a job opportunity:
Good luck filling the position. If you don’t mind some unsolicited recruiting advice … I ignore job spam and and otherwise deride messages from CyberCoders for the following reasons:
1) They spam me with regularity.
2) CyberCoders is a horrible horrible name some fifth grader cooked up in 1995. Seriously? Cyber? Orange on purple web design with tiny fonts? Coders? Even if I were a FT programmer I still don’t think I could take “Cyber Coders” with a straight face.
When I see a job posting come from CyberCoders I assume the company in question is at best a few clues short and more likely doesn’t understand tech employees or what they want, and it is likely not a place I would ever want to work.
For your sake, hopefully my own view is just an abnormally harsh minority opinion not widely held by your target audience.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
A paragraph I had highlighted as I finished my reading of Du Bois’ “Dusk of Dawn”:
The Dyer Anti-lynching Bill went through the House of Representatives and on to the floor of the Senate. There in 1924 it died with a filibuster and the abject surrender of its friends. It was not until years after that I knew what killed that anti-lynching bill. It was a bargain between the South and the West. By this bargain, lynching was let to go on uncurbed by Federal law, on condition that the Japanese be excluded from the United States.
Sometimes Divide and Conquer needs some unity of purpose to succeed. All too often, we have made compromises to accommodate critically-needed constituencies, and it takes us far too long to realize the evil in the deals we have made, and far too long to correct it. These days I feel that efforts to reduce carbon emissions for the sake of a stable climate are for our generation what race and gender equality, voting rights, workers rights, national infrastructure and slavery were for previous generations.
NPR has a nice piece on the whole Facebook-hijacking-your-mail brouhaha:
We asked Facebook to explain, and got a statement reminding us that the company announced back in April that it would update addresses “to make them consistent across our site.”
Of course, the Internet follows up with comments like “I don’t see what the big deal is, I’m glad they changed my email address for me because I use Facebook all the time anyway.” So, I post my own explanation:
The problem is that Facebook has effectively hijacked email for some people.
The problem is that many people have turned off notifications, and they do not check their Facebook every day. A further problem is Facebook quietly files messages in its spam folder, where you’ll never find them.
That’s not a problem if you do not use Facebook to exchange private messages with your friends … until your friends’ smartphones sync with Facebook and your email address comes up as email@example.com and instead of sending email to your primary email address, your friends start to send messages into a spam-filtered black hole which removes file attachments and you never know to even check on Facebook did they try to send you a message.
Quietly changing everyone’s email to forward to Facebook is a dirtbag move. It may suit your needs but it disrupts the needs of many others.
Please do this: IF you use Facebook, AND you use email, UPDATE your profile so that when we look up your email on Facebook, the correct address is displayed.
Furthermore: if you want to send me email, my address, as it has been for the past decade, is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to sign me up for a bunch of nasty spam that I will never read, go ahead and put in email@example.com.
. . .