Google “Drive” cloud storage, …

April 25th, 2012

Google “Drive” cloud storage, brought to you by the same company that drove by your house stealing data and passwords. http://t.co/zYHRkTY0

The price we pay for apathy

April 23rd, 2012

I just read a nice little article in Wired about the new National Security Agency “data center” being built in Utah and I wish I could say it affected in me some way, but I can not.  It has been a long quiet road for the United States to reach this point but who among us (at least those of us with brains in our head) could not see this coming?

From the ridiculously named Patriot Act  to the aptly named Total Information Awareness project, it was inevitable that privacy was on its last legs in this country.  I am having this moment of clarity now that just makes me smile and laugh…I remember seeing a story on CNN about China’s Great Firewall and in it was a Chinese citizen who really did not seem to mind the governments attempt at hiding knowledge from him or other citizens.  It struck me at the time as something rather poetic, because let’s face it people: at the end of the day we decide how much we are oppressed by our masters.

I find this funny now because I am not surprised, nor shocked that the NSA continues its steady march of building the biggest, fastest, smartest data centers known to man.  And it is all possible because stupid, apathetic US citizens allow it.  They argue both in private and in public that the government needs all this technology, all this surveillance, all this POWER to keep us safe.  They tell us that as long as you are innocent you have nothing to fear.  Tell that to  this 61 year old man whose house was raided based on bad information, or this circuit court judge held at gunpoint in another botched raid, or how about this poor fucking family whose dog was shot during yet another raid.

Being innocent is not a defense, not as we surround ourselves with the wickedness of men with budgets beyond our wildest imaginations and the explicit freedom of intruding into every facet of our lives: where we shop, who we talk to, what products we buy, what articles we read and with whom we decide to keep company.

Now I’m upset…what to do about people? What to do indeed?

A Reminder from the Past

October 21st, 2008

on comedy central’s daily show last night they featured a book, it’s title is The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril, by Eugene Jarecki.  It reminded me of this quote from Dwight D Eisenhower:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.  April 1953
 

Was anyone listening?

Barack Obama: The Last Great Hope (and inevitable failure) of Modern American Politics.

October 21st, 2008

The following was written sometime ago.  It is unedited.  Sorry dear reader.

Several years ago Barack Obama came deftly swinging onto the stage of American politics and media.  He gave an impassioned speech at one of the largest political spectacles of the year,  The Democratic National Convention.  Democrats, Republicans, conservatives and liberals loved, myself included.  His words were brilliantly non-partisan and echoed the most intangible quality all of his audience shared; hope.  Hope that all this rubbish could be turned around.

Hard to believe that at the time he had not even been elected to his seat in the US Senate.  Obama won by an historically wide margin in Illinois and his political trajectory never waivered.  Up and up he went.  From newbie Senator to obvious presidential front-runner. It has been an amazing story, but I fear that it might be the last nail in the coffin for American politics.

Okay, perhaps that is overstated.  Nonetheless,  I would like to examine this more closely.  Strictly from my own perspective and experience and what I think that means for the populace at large.  So here goes…

Anyone having read this blog may already know that I do not vote anymore.  I have concluded (until evidence shows otherewise) that voting is the new opiate of the masses, strictly a placebo, a means by which to give us the illusion of power and choice.  I am not a fool though.  As I said, I too suffered at times with imbuing Obama with all the hope of mankind, a savior of reason in a world of waste.  So, I said, to those who would listen, that I might consider re-registering and voting for Mr. Obama were he the one to win the nomination.  I  emphasized that no such action would be forthcoming if Mrs. Clinton won the nomination.

And so I have been pleased with my choice.  Wat

Is anyone else noticing that Google is starting to show serious growing pains?

March 20th, 2008

I have been experiencing problems with Google search recently. I perused the Google forums and found some 100 other posts since the first of the year. The problem is simple enough: lately the Googlebot has either been missing sites, or sites with long (and Terms of Service compliant) histories have been dropped completely from the index, sitemaps do little or nothing to help, Webmaster tools are slower than ever or not accurate at all, etc.

Not to mention that despite the fact that they have some of the smartest people in the country, they can not seem to fix their own maps (visit here http://groups.google.com/group/google-maps-current-issues/

browse_thread/thread/5340bedab81aa0c8).

What is going on? Is this as widespread as I think?

One in 179,697,356

November 27th, 2007

I have been a drone lately, content to just show up at work Monday through Friday and rest on Saturday and Sunday.

I read the news everyday, still frustrated that the world seems in so much chaos. I see dramatic signs of entropy answered with nothing more than the whimper of a comfortable apathy.

I enjoy my work, but I still can not get over the feeling that I am the proletariat. No matter how much I like my work, I still sell my life away one hour at a time.

I miss the camaraderie and stimulation of college. I recall that Plato and his colleagues considered it a great importance that man have leisure time in order that he may pursue something beyond the pursuit of sustenance.

Perhaps I have missed the point. I am so used to thinking that there is purpose to the pursuit of knowledge and ideas. Perhaps that is where I went wrong. I forgot that it is not the destination we reach, but rather the journey itself, the process.

When I first started immersing myself in Buddhist thought, one of the first things that ever connected with me was this idea of process-as-purpose, rather than product-as-purpose. Ironically, the article I was reading was about work. Basically, it just suggested that if you could not fall in love with the process of your work, than you were likely doomed to fail at it.

I enjoy a lively debate. I guess now I just need to remember why. Perhaps then I will be reminded of why I started writing in the first place.

Dog the Bounty Hunter, A&E: the real story people should be talking about

November 10th, 2007

having started a new job lately I have not been keeping up with the news or my posts lately, sorry ya’ll. however i did want to say something real quick about dog the bounty hunter and his show on A&E tv. it seems to me that the media and general public have missed the real story here.

so what the hell am i talking about? simple really. if you read the transcript from dog’s little speech to his son, you will notice that he (dog) mentions that he is worried about his son’s girlfriend outing the family because they use the “n” word “sometimes”. in response to this debacle, a&e has suspended the show pending investigation (partial transcript and more here).

what people should be talking about is this: if the Dog family uses the term “sometimes” and this has never been aired, what should we think about A&E’s attitude about this situation? i mean if the network is following dog around, then they must have heard this word used again and again; the show is in its third or fourth season after all. so my question is this, don’t you think it’s possible that they have recorded him using this term frequently over the years? and they said or did nothing?

it really is a sign of the times that networks do not really care about right, wrong, politically correct bullshit, or whatever. they knew dog was a ticking bomb and did nothing but leave his “n” word this, “n” word that on the cutting room floor. as long as he was bringing in the ratings, who cares? Not A&E television, that much is obvious.

Pain and Pleasure, an Analogy Using My Car

October 2nd, 2007

first let me point out to those who might be interested that one of my cohorts on this site has returned; drunken cynic has a good article on Greenspan’s comments on the dollar and the euro. enjoy.

now, for my car. monday, I had to sink some $800 into my automobile and it is now driving very well again. while driving it home yesterday it dawned on me how much i was enjoying the new, smooth quiet ride. i thought to myself how nice it is to experience moments of pleasure like that. and then something else hit me, it comes from my readings on buddhist philosophy.

our lives always contain moments of pleasure and pain. most of us seek to avoid pain at all costs and indulge in pleasure whenever possible. often though we are either confused, ignorant or unsure of what actually gives us pleasure; for this reason we often find ourselves failing at this seemingly simple task. part of the reason for this is that we frequently mistake moments of pleasure and pain. sometimes the simple cessation or relief of pain is pleasurable.

that is what I was experiencing with my vehicle on monday–the repairs on my car were not actually giving me any pleasure, rather i was just feeling the relief of some worry or anxiety. this type of behavior is very common.

many of us seek “pleasurable” things in the face of pain and suffering. do you go shopping when you are depressed? do you smoke a cigarette when you are anxious? do you eat to feel better after your significant other hurts you? these are all examples of how we seek something “pleasurable” when we are in pain. and they are all false. they do not make you happy. they do not solve the problem; they only delay or hide the problem at hand. but we think that they help, that they make us happy. and they do, until next time.

this phenomenon is not limited to just people either; the behavior is very common. we as a society felt a distinct amount of pain and worry after we were attacked several years ago. and in an effort to salve our pain we lashed out at others. we enjoyed the victories and the celebrations. We thought we had found some way to be happy again.

but our problems have not been solved and will not be solved by this course of action. it is because we mistakenly thought that if we could only relieve our pain, that we would be happy again. like most individuals we as a country were confused and misguided. but, here we are, in the same boat as before–and just as ignorant.

if things do make an improvement in Iraq, they will only be temporary and they will not solve our security or energy issues. we have yet to face the real issues here and they will only keep coming at us until we stop and take an informed look at what the problem is.

in the next few months, the media and the Bush administration will tell you that less and less violence is happening in iraq and they will carry it on their shoulders like victory. please do not be fooled by this: fixing a spark plug on the bus does not mean the bus is in good working condition, only that we are less unhappy about its performance.

Reading between the lines of the Petraeus report

September 13th, 2007

for months the Petraeus report had been mentioned by everyone; from the blog-o-sphere to prime time it was the “real” report from a man who was untouchable, a man with pride and an impeccable reputation that would tell us, finally, what was happening in Iraq and what should be done. well the bomb dropped yesterday with Petraeus walking a very thin line between telling the voting public that they are wrong, or telling the President the same thing. all in all, it was deft maneuver for a man with an impossible job.

you see, what is important is not the report itself, but rather what it means that this one is the “real” one. never mind the reports that have come out of other government agencies, think tanks and non-profits. never mind all those reports about a failed police force and failing political process. no, the report that really matters comes from a military man from a military standpoint. why?

now, this is interesting. why would it be advantageous to focus on this report? that answer should be plain to see: this report is the only one that actually shows some progress. this report is essentially nothing but a review of the surge and nothing more. the message I take from this is that all the other shit that is going to hell in Iraq is inconsequential to us, the stupid public.

the people want our troops out right? the administration wants to walk out of the situation with its head held high, blessed with the indignation of righteousness, right? what better way to change the subject and just hype the only report that says the Bush policy is working. what is else did he come out and say?

quoting the NY times, Petraeus said that “pulling out 30,000 troops could probably be done without jeopardizing the hard-won progress made in Iraq”. progress? PROGRESS? again, as far as i can tell, we moved more men in and things in those areas changed. nothing more.

so let me wrap it up for you. we moved more men in. it worked (sort of). this is a victory and we can now bring those men back. but, bringing them all back would be a bad idea. the area is still, how do you say, a bit unstable.

tonight the President will hold this report on high and urge us to “stay the course.” are we all reading the same thing here?

Subprime Mortgage Meltdown, how we got ourselves into this mess

August 17th, 2007

so, i have been watching with disgust the latest debacle to scare the global money markets. the complete meltdown of the so called “sub-prime” mortgage market  is the inevitable result of the over-extension of credit that happens when the market does really well for a long time.

what happens is this: the market is booming. almost everyone who wants one has a job (never mind the fact that real wages are down, inflation sucks for poor folks and that a significant number of the employed are under-employed). interest rates remain low however and banks and creditors start to salivate over new potential customers. where did these new customers come from? simple, they were always there; they were just never considered good credit risks.

so, what changed? almost nothing in any real sense. did millions of people suddenly become better credit risks? no. did the credit industry have a change of heart? no. the only thing that happened was the ease with which they could borrow money themselves, not to mention all the huge profits being made by some companies–you have to find somewhere to put that money. so, creditors began loosening their loan criteria.

the only result of this is a whole bunch of people either being duped into horrible adjustable-rate mortgages and/or balloon payment loans (i.e. low payments for a short time, then boom, not so low payments anymore). any numb nut can see this is a recipe for disaster, especially when this becomes industry practice. one company doing it, okay. half a million policies, no problem. when dangerous lending practices become standard operating procedure–not a good idea.

the inevitable result is what you now see happening–millions of people defaulting on loans they never should have gotten in the first place, real estate speculators having to bear the brunt of a collapsing market, and homebuilders just scared shitless (great articles from CNN here, here and here).

what is going to happen now? well, Wall street will fire a few people from its bloated staff levels, the dollar will slide ( here and here) and the fed will begin finding out some way of helping those fuckers who got us here in the first place.

my boss just walked in and asked about how the market was doing. i told him that it had opened with a 300+ point gain, but had since receded a bit, but still up. he knows me of course, so he asked if I was happy about the slow bleed that has crept into the market (which is down almost 10% from its highs).

i do love to see the elite class get what is coming to them here or there, but that is not the case here. it is not the wealthy (or just well off) that are gonna take the brunt of an economic slowdown, it will be the average jane and joe who lose their home and their job.

Why Bush’s Iraq Policy Dooms the USA to Fail

August 15th, 2007

yesterday while driving home and listening to the local NPR station talk about the car bombings which killed more than 200 Iraqis, it dawned on me. the Bush regime has wasted possibly the most historically advantageous opportunity of our modern era. why?

1. the story starts with 9/11 , sort of. after 9/11 i know all of us were inundated with images of arabs celebrating and burning effigies in the street, but the real behind-the-scenes story was the support of governments and peoples the world over. yes, we the people of the u.s.a. were given a single moment to change how the world saw us. yes, W Bush had the chance to show the world that we are not the tyrannical empire they said we were. W. could have embraced the world community and its overwhelming empathy in the aftermath of 9/11.

But that opportunity was wasted by invading Iraq.

2. the story does have some roots in the pre-9/11 world (whatever the hell that means) also. you see, before we invaded iraq W bush and his neo-con cronies kept telling us, “saddam hussein and al-qaeda are in cahoots with each other.” that of course turned out to be untrue, which any dumb ass could have figured out since Saddam was a rabid secularist and Osama and his gang are fucking religious wackos. Does this make sense to any one? as far as I can tell, the Al-Qaeda boys even funded some activities against saddam’s regime.

the point being that if the War on Terror was actually something w. bush wanted to win, he sure made one stupid fucking decision to eradicate a man that was probably helping to keep the region from descending into even more religious fanaticism.

But that opportunity was wasted by invading Iraq.

3. even after the bone-headed move of invading iraq, the iraqi people should have been our most staunch and powerful ally. you want to win a war of hearts and minds? then for god fucking sake, you have to learn to recognize the signs of an opening when they happen.

just think, we had just invaded this wayward country because of terrorism. even the people of the former Baathist regime had been turning on Saddam. everyone wanted something new, something free, something better. it was this attitude which should have been nourished, it was the only chance we had of empowering these people to help us fight the religious nut-jobs of the world.

do you think these people did not see this coming? do you think that this is what the sunnis, or shiites or kurds wanted? NO. jesus, all they wanted was a change, an improvement, more security in their lives–the same things human beings want the world over. george w. had been given millions of people on a silver platter, people that did not support Osama and al-qaeda, people that wanted nothing more than to hope that we would help.

But, for whatever reason or motivation, the bush plan has failed. the country is still in ruins with very little running water (much less potable), hardly any electricity and an economy that hardly exists outside of the oil fields (articles here, here and here).

is this how you win hearts and minds? is this how you convince and empower a whole country of people to resist the outside influence of hate, despair and criminality? all the iraqis wanted after the invasion was to get back to living some semblance of an ordinary life; they did not want the nosedive crash-and-burn scenario they are now stuck in.

if we had done things right, if we had used the vast resources at our disposal in a more intelligent and compassionate way, we could have done great things for the people of iraq. that would have benefited us in ways that are now unimaginable. we would have gained one of the best allies one could hope for, but instead we have this mess.

’nuff said?

On Barry Bonds and Success at any Cost

August 8th, 2007

well, barry bonds has done it. he has destroyed any semblance of respect he may have ever had and taken major league baseball down with him. Congratulations Barry, you are the latest jerk on the planet to prove that “how you play the game” is not what really matters. How else does one explain that a cheater now holds one of the most coveted achievements in all of sports?

When I do decide to have kids, what the hell do I tell them? Do I tell them that myself and others have lied to them over and over again with that bullshit about “it’s not whether you win or lose”?

really, i am not that surprised by this turn of events. i have been lamenting for quite sometime about the total destruction of real, accountable ethics in our society. this is but another example of how many of us simply do not care if you follow the rules as long as you win. the trend is evident everywhere–from the boardrooms of Microsoft, MCI Worldcom and Enron to the hallowed streets that are home to the Tour de France.

ah well, back to work.

The Difficulty of Formless Faith

July 26th, 2007

as an attempted Buddhist i am always defending to the uninitiated about the faith that is central to the practice. most people fail to see the faith of the philosophy because it is not embodied by a personification of ultimate purpose. and so i must explain that its faith is found in rationality and understanding, which most people get and respect.

the two may sound radically different, but they have this in common: my faith is just as fleeting, distant and intangible. it takes work to believe.

for instance, i am going through one of the most painful moments of my life, but I am forced to ask myself, do i deserve this? did i bring this upon myself? is my karma really that bad? either way the answer is not pretty and is testing my faith sorely.

i have suffered a crisis of faith like this before: it was quite awhile ago, i was running a rave promotion company of sorts. after our last event (which ended in disaster) I found myself broke and without much support. everything that could go wrong, did.

my faith, my hope in the world just evaporated. what, i thought to myself does a person have to do? i felt that i had tried to do good, but nothing seemed to be coming back to me. i know that may sound selfish, but what can i say? i believed in justice. in a just world, why would so many bad things happen to good people?

the answer is, of course, that the world is not just. there is no purpose. there is no reason. we are just stuck on this ball of rock and gas. blessed and cursed all in the same breath. no one to answer to. no one to answer us.

work in progress…

A sunshine ray of hope in this presidential election needs your help

July 12th, 2007

well, i may be a few days behind on my DVR recordings but, i saw this great thing about Unity ’08 yesterday. it is a movement to select a unity candidate in the upcoming election.

this is a country of some 300 million people and immigrants that come from all over the world. i know most of you are not democrat or republican, so this should be something we could all get behind and support.

i only have one suggestion: last night as I heard a gentleman on the Colbert report (about halfway down the page talking about it and I will admit, I have to do more research on what these people are doing) but, I think the idea is good…

Anyway, the only problem with the campaign is that right now it only seems to be online, which reduces its effectiveness because not all voters are connected to the digital world (the situation is called the “digital divide”, a primer from Wikipedia is here; read more about it here and here).

We need some volunteers and some cash to get tablet PC’s on the ground and get those people without computers and broadband access to participate, otherwise this project will result in nothing than more elitist feel good propaganda about how good our democracy is.

anyone wish to help?

A message on hope

July 9th, 2007

Within the first dozen or so pages of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, the narrator states, “This was freedom. Losing all hope was freedom.” I have repeated this phrase to many of my friends, acquaintances, people that just happened to show up at my house for whatever reason. I thought it was clever, because I was always bearing witness to the emotional trauma and disappointment wrought by individual hope.

But, now I know differently. Now, I will confess to all of you what I think my repetition of this statement really meant. I think it was a mechanism by which to hide my own hope; a hope that was just as vulnerable, just as important to me as I tried to pretend it wasn’t. I had hope. I wanted hope.

Today, I just do not know anymore dear readers. I know it seems all melodramatic and overblown to type that here and subject you to it, an innocent, to my ravings. Perhaps this camel is just is too tired, too old.

I have tried to reason with myself and argue with my comrades. I have fought for hope, for sanity, for progress, for justice. I still have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror, so I ask myself, if this is all I see in myself, what do others see of me? Do not let anyone lie to you folks, your appearance in this world does mean something, and while you can slip through the cracks (Thanks Dr. G), if people see nothing beautiful in you…well I think you get my drift.

So, after all this time and just not seeing any improvement, any progress, any fucking justice; I think I am just too beaten up, bested by those who would choose their own self-interest over anything else.

You win.

This will perhaps be my last post here…J-Ro I will still want to contribute some work to you.