Poverty

June 23, 2012

Poverty

The abandoned wreck lay in the street.

We climbed and jumped; so much to do that week.

A mattress appeared and now our feats grew.

Then one day no more; someone took it away.

Another week, a sewer formed a lake

from which sprung exotic adventures and competitions.

I played a pirate with my wooden sword, my buddy slayed the savage sea beast.

Then one day no more; someone took it away.

Nostalgic, I look back on those days. I was not poor; I enjoyed the endless array

Of things abandoned, trees to climb, hidden corners, and the paradise of neglected yards.

When summer lasted years, and the fun was measured by my socks and

how far they peeked from the holes in the bottoms of my shoes.

On rainy days from the past to today,

I can almost feel my soggy socks

and like an echo in my heart,

hear my mother calling me to come home.

– Josef

Other works

  1. Scattered A short story about the future extremes of …
  2. Hero waits A nano-story.

Can the predictive web also enable control?

June 23, 2012

In a previous post, “Synergistic Social Agent Network Cloud“, I discussed how a web of ‘agents’ could optimize ‘apps’ to be more responsive, proactive, and multipliers of our intents. I was just reading “Should we fear mind-reading future tech?” by Andrew Keen, and was thinking of the possible negative aspects. Still reading the article, so it may cover this. (finished reading it, was not mentioned).

Privacy is the usual concern about this high-tech stuff. This is very important. But, can “faster than realtime” computing, prediction, massive complex-event-processing and correlation also enable the powers that be to also control? We already know that advertising in all it’s forms can control, else why, for example, is the American presidential election a feeding fest of political money contributions?

Could that same advertising and fake news reporting via social media and apps that employ predictive quasi-AI morph into controlling media, an Orwellian manifestation of new-speak? In a scenario that would make a great sci-fi novel, Big Interests like political parties, business groups, and political organizations use social media, not only to advertise, but to gently guide one toward having programmed epiphanies.

Can it even be more “physical” and intrusive? For example, by prediction, these groups can arrange that one will meet a certain someone at the right time. Your a bleeding heart influential liberal? No problem, the future Fox News will arrange that you meet this gorgeous strong willed conservative that will change your mind.

Silly example, but you get the point, when you know, you can make nano-adjustments: unnoticeable, personalized, massive lobbying. Ads are old school, here come the psych-bots.


How can Justices be left or right leaning?

March 28, 2012

Hearing the justices speak and hearing commentators discussing how certain judges are left or right got me thinking about this again. How can a justice be politically biased? I thought they judged on the merits of the cases before them.

But, then we have the grilling that potential justices are put through to become judges and even there the questions don’t make sense. I guess I just don’t get it. Maybe I watched too many Star Trek episodes and now I think that somewhere or in some discipline there is a cold but accurate Vulcan logic being applied. No, there is just a bell curve and most of us are in the middle.


Should Consumer products indicate comparable filler content?

February 28, 2012

Your at a store and are presented with a choice among two competing products. Lets say its a bottle of juice or some dish soap. How do you decide what to buy?

One way is to see the relative cost per measure. That calculation is already done for you in that little price tag on the shelf, can’t recall the name of that standard. So, price comparison is easy. You could even look at its ingredients; they are usually listed in size order, etc. There are even mobile apps to help you make that decision.

However, that decision is bogus since you don’t really know how much of that product is just filler. Which juice has the most water, for example? Some products will state what that is, like 2% real juice. Is that enough? What do they mean by that? Do they dry out the real juice measure it, then reconstitute it back into liquid form? I think its like that “cheese food” label, all a scam. Boy, am I being negative this week.

Now companies have a right to trade secrets and all that. But, as consumers we would like to know when we are just buying colored water. Or maybe we don’t. After all, we twaddle around with our fat asses in the big box stores searching for deals on junk food to keep the billion dollar soft sweet drink industry going.

Anyway, there must be some better ways to make our devalued earnings buy a little more.

Further Reading

  1. Toward a Consumer Product Information Resource
  2. 1862 – 2012: A Brief History of Food and Nutrition Labeling
  3. Food Ingredients Most Prone to Fraudulent Economically Motivated Adulteration


Got the “Downton Abbey” bug.

January 16, 2012

Just finished seeing season one of “Downton Abbey” in Netflix streaming. What can I say that hasn’t been written before, it is grand. Such superb story, characters, filming, scenes, language, and most important great actors.

What I don’t get is why the household let Thomas come back to work?

More stuff

Downton Abbey – Main Theme Song – Piano Music

Downton Abbey theme- Did I Make The Most of Loving You?

Downton Abbey- The Suite


News Literacy Project teaches how to sort fact from fiction

December 13, 2011

Just saw this on a TV news show. Boy is this needed! You’d be surprised what people take for real news today.

The News Literacy Project (NLP) is an innovative national educational program that mobilizes seasoned journalists to help middle school and high school students sort fact from fiction in the digital age.

The project teaches students critical-thinking skills that will enable them to be smarter and …
Learn More

The only negative I can see is that if people really start questioning the “news” and scrutinizing the bombardment of political-social-economic morass being spewed, there may be a revolution. Minimally we wouldn’t even vote in elections; after all what criteria distinguishes one bozo from another, the shiny nose quotient? (Just lame attempt at humor, maybe).

Further Reading
News Literacy Project


Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) from “Empire Jazz”


Do we need an ad-free top-level domain?

October 10, 2011

From its roots as an information sharing infrastructure, the internet is now increasingly composed of marketing and sophisticated attempts at private information harvesting. This has led to an adversarial relationship between providers and consumers.

Advertising is important. Commerce is important. Getting information on new products and solutions is important. Consumerism as culture is not important (it leads to a debtor nation). Advertising that preys on the bases ‘instincts’ and misinforms is not good. There are no easy solutions to fair advertising and fair use of personal information. Invariably, the consumer will be pimped.

When telephone soliciting became absurd, a Do Not Call registry was created. The same approach may not work in the web, for even the act of searching for something is subject to ad-fluenced manipulation.

A top level domain (TLD) that prohibits advertising will be useful if and only if it is also transparent. Since it must be funded and probably would not survive on donations or sponsorship by users, an ad-free domain must rely on organizations and companies. These must be explicit. No shenanigans like we have in the political process where influence is nefarious like the Political Action Committees (PAC) that subvert the democratic process.

Some difficulties:

  • What is advertising? How can it be identified?
  • Who does the filtering?
  • What people, organizations, and companies can become part of this domain.
  • What to call this? Radio Free Earth (rfe).

Oh well, perhaps a bad idea. It was out there, my brain picked it up.

I wrote about advertising and privacy before, but in a fictional short story format: Scattered.

Further Reading


Ip Man

August 2, 2011

Who doesn’t appreciate a martial arts film once in a while. If you don’t, maybe you haven’t seen a good one yet, like Ip Man. “A semi-biographical account of Yip Man, the first martial arts master to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun.”

The story is grand, music great, cinematography awesome, action entertaining, and the acting superb. Donnie Yen owned this character.

But, best of all there is a Ip Man 2!

Ip Man at IMDB
Ip Man at Rotten Tomatoes

Off topic … Ant
Enough of this, have to read up on Ant build scripts. Is AntCall really evil? But, there is no way to short-circuit declarative dependency handling, except by entangling conditionals all over the place. Or is there?


SYTYCD — Episode 18, top 8 dancers.

August 2, 2011

One of my favorite programs on TV, “So You Think You Can Dance”, recently had another great show.

Two fabulous dancers Melani and Sasha put on a great performance, dancing to a Choreograph by Sonya Tayeh:

Melanie and Sasha Top 8 So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 July 27, 2011

Such power! I love at the beginning at 0:18 when Sasha reaches up and then falls back.

Here is another dance to the great Jeff Buckley’s “I Know It’s Over“:
So You Think You Can Dance Season 8 Marko Top 8

The whole show is currently on HULU


internet + demographics + culture = revolution

January 30, 2011

Look at what happened in Tunisia and is and may echo in Egypt. This is just the start.

An essay, “A Time for Choosing” by Daniel E. Geer Jr., has this as its first paragraph:

The Internet was built by academics, researchers, and hackers—meaning that it embodies the liberal cum libertarian cultural interpretation of “American values,” namely that it is open, nonhierarchial, self-organizing, and leaves essentially no opportunities for governance beyond protocol definition. Anywhere the Internet appears, it brings those values with it (treating censorship as a routing failure, say). Other cultures, other governments, know that these are America’s strengths and that we are dependent upon them, hence as they adopt the Internet they become dependent on those strengths and thus on our values. A greater challenge to sovereignty does not exist.

That last sentence is great: “A greater challenge to sovereignty does not exist.”

[What follows was not the point of the referenced essay above and is my own naivety.]

Now look at what happened in Tunisia and is and may echo in Egypt. This is just the start.

What will happen in America? I think the possibility of violent revolution is very remote. Then again, with the rich just getting richer across a very wide gap and jobs going overseas, we are creating new kinds of classes. Not very prudent.

In the middle east and other countries the demographics is of a very young population. In the USA we are old. If we simplistically assume that revolution is the dramatic change to an opposite, then a revolution in America due to its demographics would be opposite to that in other countries. We have freedom (compared to many countries), so a revolution would be to non-freedom. Is the rise of anti-science, extreme right wing politics, hate-radio, renewed gun fervor, all fueled by internet misinformation, fear-mongering, and irrational thinking the result? It seems that the Taliban is winning the war, we are becoming them.

I don’t have to belabor the point. Just look at non-fox news for evidence: politicians calling for stopping of support for public radio, Creationism and anti-science in schools, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Young people here would be wise to put away the game machines and yakking on Facebook and start seeing what is really happening. The future has swallowed empires of old. Its gaping maw is opening again.


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