Category Archives: Politics

Barry Blitt on Fresh Air

Barry Blitt on Fresh Air

Drag the media player slider to 29 minutes, Blitt is on the second half of the show.

Here’s Barry Blitt’s web site. Click on “What-not” for a collection of his New Yorker covers including all the covers mentioned in the interview. Fantastic stuff.

I love his work and it was nice to hear that he works exclusively in pen and ink and not Photoshop.

David Pogue on SOPA

Put Down the Pitchforks on SOPA

Pogue lays out the situation calmly and clearly. Its worth a read.

Some people are O.K. with the goals of the bills, acknowledging that software piracy is out of control; they object only to the bills’ approaches. If the entertainment industry’s legal arm gets out of control, they say, they could deem almost anything to be a piracy site. YouTube could be one, because lots of videos include bits of TV shows and copyrighted music. Facebook could be one, because people often link to copyrighted videos and songs. Google and Bing would be responsible for removing every link to a questionable Web site. Just a gigantic headache.

But there’s another group of people with a different agenda: They don’t even agree with the bills’ purpose. They don’t want their free movies taken away. A good number of them believe that free music and movies are their natural-born rights. They don’t want the big evil government taking away their free fun.

The second group of people is the group I don’t want to be associated with. This is what clouds my support for the entire protest.

Voting by iPad

Voting by iPad in Oregon on Tuesday

Election workers are taking the iPads to disabled voters who might otherwise have difficulties marking their ballots, the AP wrote. These voters are able to pull up the ballot on the iPad and tap the screen to mark the candidate of their choice before printing out their completed ballot. After that, voters will send in their votes in a much more traditional way: by mail.

Apple Inc. donated five iPads to the state for the program, and Oregon shelled out about $75,000 to make the software, the AP reported. According to Secretary of State Kate Brown and the state elections director, Steve Trout, the office tested several different types of devices before settling on the iPad.

Now, how about using iPads so the rest of us can “vote different.”

[via Gary Sharp]

When Hoedads Walked the Earth

When Hoedads Walked the Earth

I get the quarterly magazine of University of Oregon alumni, Oregon Quarterly. In this month’s issue is a piece about a group I used to follow with interest, a tree planting collective called The Hoedads (named after the hoe like tool used to dig a hole and plant a seedling).

I used to run into groups of Hoedads both in rock climbing circles and at various “hippy” restaurants in Eugene. I always admired this group for putting their money where their political mouths were. Most of us complained about our lot in life but did little about it. These folks took the bull by the horns and did something good and it worked for a long time and did good.

The images are wonderful and they bring back memories of Eugene, Oregon in the ’70s and ’80s.

World War II: Internment of Japanese Americans

World War II: Internment of Japanese Americans

Alan Taylor continues his series at the Atlantic’s In Focus on World War II in Photos.

This impressive collection includes a few images from Ansel Adams who was doing commercial photography for the State of California and the US government at the time.

The internment of Japanese Americans remains one of the most embarrassing and stupid ideas in US history, one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mistakes.

Hardware software disintegration

HP’s webOS Reportedly Runs Significantly Faster on iPad 2 Than on TouchPad

It’s old news that HP has decided to sell off its computer business. The fact that the tablet and smartphone OS that Palm had in the works that HP bought runs faster on an iPad (iOS) or even as a web application under Safari is significant. What’s even more significant to me is the reason for the sluggishness:

The report notes that the TouchPad hardware had essentially already been designed when HP acquired Palm last year, with the engineers tasked with getting webOS running on the existing design. The resulting handicap of outdated hardware reportedly crippled the webOS team’s ability to innovate for the tablet platform and ultimately led to the poor market reception.

This strikes me as a blunder of enormous proportions and this is the place where Apple has consistently done better than the competition: Macs are designed to run OS X and OS X is designed to run on Macs. iPhones and iPads (and other devices) are designed to run iOS and iOS is designed to run on these devices.

Tight integration between hardware and software is one of the many ingredients of Apple’s success. It seems a shame that webOS, what many have considered a decent operating system, is orphaned because HP didn’t built hardware specifically for it. Why they didn’t do that is no doubt all about internal politics.

Which leads me to this: Steve Jobs is certainly a genius when it comes to product innovation and marketing but what may be his most important attribute is his ability to cut through the politics and push through what needs to be pushed through to get well designed products shipped.

Dan Malloy, Connecticut Governor, Opens Up About Dyslexia Troubles

Dan Malloy, Connecticut Governor, Opens Up About Dyslexia Troubles

“I have to tell you, I’ll be right up front about it: I’m the governor of the state of Connecticut and I can’t write anything well,” Malloy told the rapt students. “This is who we are. I can’t write things. I’m embarrassed all the time about that, particularly if people don’t know that about me.”

I knew there was a reason I voted for him (other than that he’s a Democrat).

You go Dan!

Japan Airlines CEO cuts own pay and perks

Now, if American CEOs did this, members of Congress did this, President Obama did this, we might be able to stomach asking working people for so many concessions to make things right.

The least American CEOs could do is what Steve Jobs at Apple does: take $1 in salary and get the rest in stock options, the worth of which are determined by how well the company does.

It infuriates me that members of Congress have excellent health care and pensions and are legislating that everyone else needs to belt tighten. Put them all on commission and force them to buy health insurance like the rest of us.

[via Boing Boing]

Support Grows for Tiered Risk System at Airports

Support Grows for Tiered Risk System at Airports

As a frequent traveler I support this but oh boy, I can see the problems with it already.

1. Profiling will no doubt get a few people into the risky pool who shouldn’t be there. Getting “promoted” out of that pool will be a tough fight.

2. This is akin to having a national ID card and I thought, if memory serves, that there is resistance to this from various groups.

3. Having to pay for the screening seems like a bad idea and will lead to a class system: those who can afford to pay will have it easier. It seems to me that the TSA should pay us for our time in getting screened to make their jobs easier.

United Airlines has my travel history and they know a lot about me. Why can’t I simply okay them sharing some of that information with the TSA so that they know more about me? Then it’s just a matter of making sure I’m me and that I have the “regular” bags I usually bring through checkpoints. I’ve thought this for years, long before 9/11. Without getting into profiling or paying for screening, it would seem to me that more use could be made of our travel histories, much like stamps on a passport.

Where are the open minded systems analysts when we need them?

New Edition Of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ Will Eliminate Offensive Words

New Edition Of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ Will Eliminate Offensive Words

This is terrible. While I don’t use or support the use of the word “nigger” it’s an important part of the history of the United States and the setting for Mark Twain’s book was early enough so that the word in question was in common use.

I find it interesting that NPR’s comment filter is not allowing the word “nigger” to be posted in comments about a story about that very word. Wake up NPR, you’re doing what you’re reporting about.

There’s a poll at the end of the post:

The scholars doing this hope it will introduce more young people to ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ I think:

  • That makes this OK.
  • It’s still the wrong thing to do.

Over 96% of voters think it’s still the wrong thing to do as do I.

Scrutiny Takes Toll on For-Profit College Company

Scrutiny Takes Toll on For-Profit College Company

The undercover videos showed Kaplan recruiters in Florida and California making false or questionable statements to prospective students — suggesting for example, that massage therapists earn $100 an hour, and that student loans need not be paid back.

This is a fascinating piece and it’s about time these companies were held accountable.

[via Dr. Bart Pisha]

The AK-47: ‘The Gun’ That Changed The Battlefield

The AK-47: ‘The Gun’ That Changed The Battlefield

Fresh Air’s Terry Gross interviews C.J. Chivers, author of a new book The Gun about the story of the Kalashnikov rifle, one of the most widely used rifles on earth.

I’m not into guns but this is a fascinating interview and the history of this gun is an amazing story.

More on the Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle (AK-47) at Wikipedia: AK-47.

City of Asylum

Writers in Danger Offered Safe Haven to Practice Craft in Pittsburgh

Last night on the PBS NewsHour Jeffrey Brown did a piece on City of Asylum/Pittsburgh which offers writers from countries where they’re not free to write a safe haven to think and write.

Residencies for Writers-in-Exile
For two years we provide a furnished house, a living stipend, medical coverage, and help in transitioning to potentially permanent exile.

This is the kind of organization I like to support.