29 July 2018

Lest, Instead of Warming, It Should Consume

In 1795, George Washington sent Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay to negotiate a treaty with the British. However, neither the Democratic-Republican Party nor the Federalist Party were pleased by The Jay Treaty. The intent of the treaty was to tie up loose ends with Great Britain such as the resolution of financial debts leftover from the Revolution, the removal of British troops from forts on the western frontier, and the normalization of trade relations with Great Britain.
When Alexander Hamilton appeared at a meeting in his home state of New York to explain the benefits of the treaty, crowds hissed and booed and some even threw stones at the Secretary of the Treasury. Vehement outcry swept the country from the Democratic-Republican media outlets. Popular graffiti in Massachusetts reflected some of the anti-Federalist sentiment:
“Damn John Jay! Damn everyone who won’t damn John Jay! Damn everyone who won’t stay up all night damning John Jay!”
From George Washington's Farewell Address, 1796:
One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. 
I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

25 March 2017

True Solutions We Won't Even Consider

Single Payer Healthcare (https://goo.gl/2AFNAN), Universal Basic Income (https://goo.gl/jCLyFD), The Fair Tax (https://goo.gl/5jxqC9), and Fair Representation (https://goo.gl/WcwfJv) #ThereYouGo #ProblemsSolved

[ FURTHER READING: http://bit.ly/2KO32Uo ]

28 November 2015

The Blockchain

I suddenly realized that the Bitcoin network (which folks are trusting to store billions of dollars of current value) operates essentially on the principal of "security through obscurity".  The address-space is a 160-bit number.  That's on the magnitude of quindecillions.

So, for one thing, this -> http://youtu.be/THt99IzFFRE.  There are simply so many addresses available, it's impossible to guess the addresses that are being used.

It's a bit mind-boggling -- like -> http://youtu.be/SLIvwtIuC3Y

Anyways ... all transactions on this network are stored in a public ledger called the Blockchain.  Blocks of transactions are bundled-up and added to this Blockchain every 10 minutes orso (it's now over 50GB) and every miner has a copy.  This guy does a pretty good job summing up mining -> http://youtu.be/UrrBcaXuaq8

This distributed, blockchain way of doing things (not necessarily the Bitcoin blockchain in particular) .. it's a new paradigm.  And it's being applied in a variety of interesting ways (solving some of the toughest problems inherent in our existing approaches).  Problems of scale, trust, reliability -- they are not problems in the context of this new architecture.  And all because of big hairy numbers.

Now -- this all depends on having a *really good* random number generator.  And once the desktop quantum computer is invented -- and some snot-nosed gamer in his Mom's basement cracks the math -- well, then all bets are probably off  ;-)

If you want to go down the rabbit-hole, I recommend this lecture to a bunch of E.E. students at Stanford.  It's about a next-gen protocol framework for the web (based on this more distributed / decentralized way of thinking) -- a little over an hour long, but worth it IMHO -- (a bit like a peek into the future)

Inter-Planetary File System (IPFS)
Stanford Seminar - Juan Benet of Protocol Labs

15 December 2013

Seven States

Arkansas (Article 19, Section 1): "No person that denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court."
Maryland (Article 37): "That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution."
Mississippi (Article 14, Section 245): "No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state."
North Carolina (Article 6, Section 8): "The following persons shall be disqualified from office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God."
South Carolina (Article 17, Section 4): "No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution."
Tennessee (Article 9, Section 2): "No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."
Texas (Article 1, Section 4): "No religious tests shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall anyone be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being."

12 December 2013

02 May 2013

19 January 2013

Ahead of His Time

Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah (17-Jan-2013)

Tiger Scandal Breaks (25-Nov-2009)

George Carlin Dies (22-Jun-2008)

10 January 2013

Bad Guns and Big Pharma

The problem with that position is:  folks who have those kinds of weapons (and who site the 2nd amendment as the /reason/ they have those kinds of weapons) -- they honestly and firmly believe it's to protect against the possibility (however extreme) that they may one day have to use them to protect themselves, their home and family against the authorities who have them too.

Folks opposed can say something along the lines of: "Well that will /never/ happen; it's just paranoid delusion" -or- "If that ever occurs, we'll have much greater problems to worry about". But those arguments have the exact opposite effect. They do nothing to assuage the concerns -- concerns that *precisely* go back to the intent of the founders who created the second amendment.

The only possible shot at a real solution to this problem is not to ban certain guns, but (like anti-smoking campaigns) to:

1) Change the attitudes of many of the folks who would carry them, have a legitimate right to do so, and feel afraid

2) Understand and interdict for the folks who carry them or acquire them and are not mentally able to properly wield them**

It's a very long game. It will take generations (with, unfortunately, many casualties along the way). And, in the end, such an approach will /not/ get rid of all the "bad guns" completely.

I dare say, this "hearts and minds" approach will require more patience than folks like McChrystal are willing to stomach. I honestly believe that any other strategy is not only doomed to fail, but likely to exacerbate the very circumstances we find ourselves in today.

** on a side note: I believe we will come to discover that most, if not all, of the mass shootings that have so horrified the nation have been perpetrated by someone under the influence of serotonin reuptake inhibitors. I am not saying these drugs should be banned, but they are easily misused. I do believe that our society is all too quick to turn to big pharma for a pill that will solve all problems. Our so-called health-"care" system is all too quick to turn to them (and our health insurance system all to quick to pay for them). It's a viscous cycle that really needs to be examined and likely a greater cause of these mass tragedies than the pervasiveness of "bad guns".

26 November 2012

Election Overhaul U.S.A.

Dear U.S. friends,

Now that election day is safely in the rear-view mirror:  Ask yourself if you voted for someone or against the "other guy".  Did you vote to get someone into that White House or to keep someone out?  Be honest!  Because; after all, that "other guy" -- if he were to be allowed access to the reins of power over the next 4 years ... well, it would mean utter destruction to everything we hold precious in this world (and quite likely the end of life on Earth as we know it).  Am I right?!

WHAT WE NEED is a complete election overhaul -- nothing short of a total reconsideration of the way we elect our officials in this country.  From campaign financing to standardized voting equipment to rationalization for the existing primary process, delegates from conventions, and our Electoral College.

WE NEED a system that everyone can trust.  And we need an informed electorate that votes for people again.

What we have is quite far from that.

15 November 2012

PSA: Transition to CyanogenMod.org

 CyanogenMod.com  is now CyanogenMod.org
It's another interesting sign of how ingrained the DNS system* has become to the way we use the net. How it's policed, too. I think Kim Dotcom should launch the new Megaupload by getting everyone to memorize its IP address. Shouldn't be much more difficult than remembering something like Jenny's 867-5309, amirite? 
* (ah ... jus' like the ol' "GO WORDS" / "KEYWORDS" scams of my youth)