Discussing the third rail.

If you travel on an electrified railway, I’m sure you are familiar with the third rail. That’s the one with 600 Volts of High Current DC that powers the train. It’s the one that under any circumstances you don’t want to touch. Everyone knows that if you touch the third rail you will be instantly desiccated into a puff of smoke. So we all know never to tough the third rail.

In America there is a topic, which is the equivalent of the third rail, it’s gun control.

I like guns. I’ve had the chance to fire a range of target rifles and pistols, colt 45’s, Magnums, semi automatics, an AK47 and once a grenade launcher, and it’s great fun. I’ve never hunted animals with anything more than a camera, but that really just because of lack of opportunity rather than any sort of tree hugging mindset.

When I’ve used a gun I’ve taken it very seriously, and I recognize the deadly power of the weapon. It amazes me that people keep guns at home, in their cars, in their handbags and on their persons. These are deadly weapons and need to be protected at all times.

I’ve known people that keep a gun in every room in their house, yet leave their doors unlocked at night and when they leave because “their” street is so safe. Badly controlled weapons will eventually fall into the hands of thieves, who sell them to those who plan to commit greater crimes.

Guns are NOT toys, and are a serious weapon and a serious issue.

Today anyone can get a gun. Go to a shop and buy one, with an ID and waiting period or go to a gun show and pick one up for cash, no questions asked. If you happen to have a tattoo on your forehead that indicates you plan to shoot someone, it’s possible that you may just have to pick one up on the black market. Bottom line is that absolutely anyone however obviously crazy can get a gun or several guns easier than a fifteen year old can get a pack of cigarettes. The controls in place are useless.

But there has to be some reasonable control on how guns are consumed and used in America. It seems crazy that there are such weak controls on who can own a gun and how they can use them. With the exception of farmers and hunters, guns for civilian use are almost entirely for fun, or terror. The concept of using a gun for “personal protection” is not reasonable in a civilized society. The chance of someone using it inappropriately is dramatically higher than using it appropriately.

Mandatory training, regular psych tests, yearly certification and registration, biometric access controls, limiting firing rates, limiting loaded capacities, restricting armor plate piecing rounds, limiting calibers would all be a good start.

The terrible cost of even a small number of nut cases with arsenals is not acceptable.

There will always be deranged people who perform horrible crimes, and society should make it as hard as possible for them to perform wide spread carnage.

It is not enough for politicians to look sad and say they will pray for the souls of the dead. We need a serious debate and serious action to ensure that every year the number of people killed by guns in America goes down.

If a country’s people wish to allow guns in society, then the people need to think very carefully about the consequences and put in place serious controls to weed out crazies and limit the chance of mass murder.

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How to game the system

Firstly it helps if you own the system. It’s really hard to own a pure democratic system, where every person’s vote is equal. So step one is to work in a few kinks in to the system to ensure that some votes are more valuable than others.

Then it’s really important to ensure that there are no limits on how much can be invested in getting “the right” people elected.

Now you can focus on throwing tons of cash at the people that are most important. Obviously since everyone has tons of cash this is fair (everyone does have tons of cash, at least everyone that counts. Those without cash just don’t count)

Now you can get the people elected that will do what you want. And here’s what you want. You want laws that ensure that people just like you get an advantage. Of course it’s all, legal, you made sure of that.

Lets make sure that the way that you make money is taxed at continually decreasing levels, and to make up for it let’s tax everyone else at increasing levels.

Lets make sure that things that your companies make are bought using taxpayer money at the highest possible prices (military equipment, medical equipment and drugs etc).

Now lets make sure that we can hire workers at ever decreasing prices. Lets get rid of all those complexities such as minimum wages, benefits and health and safety, they are just overhead. If we can’t get rid of it quickly enough let’s make our stuff in places in the world where these restrictions just don’t exist.

Hey when I look at these places, I like what I see. You can treat workers like crap, and if they don’t like it imprison them. And wow, look at how those places have created fantastic lives for the people (those that count, those on top), by circumventing the whole idea of “electing” people.

Wow those guys have it right, just get a whole team of smartly dressed people in uniforms with really great hats to enforce good business practice.

High quality production, low cost of production, maximum profit and it’s all legal.

Oh right, we need to be morale. Hey I have a great idea, lets redefine morality. I know let’s us the term “freedom” to justify pretty much anything. And lets use a new version of the teachings of Jesus (or any other religious concept) as a way of crapping on anyone not just like ourselves.

Now were legal, morale and rich… Job done.

Feel free to convert this way of thinking to any extreme view, it works just as well for extreme left, extreme right, any strongly religious group, or any group who thinks their way is the only way.

Extremism is never a good thing. (35)

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The Do Not Call Register is a toothless and almost pointless waste of time.

Every day I get calls from companies trying to sell me discounted electricity, credit services, insurance and a plethora of art establishments who want patronage. And on top of that I get calls from political parties and charities.

And I have signed up for the Do Not Call Registry.

The concept is simple there is a database of phone numbers, that telesales people are not allowed to call. And they are supposed to cleanse their database regularly against this list.

I know this list is not relevant to charities and political parties (don’t you love self serving exceptions to rules)

To get added to the list you simply go to www.donotcall.gov/ in the US (and other places for other countries).

This is a (so called) service enacted in the US government to stop annoying calls, and it is entirely useless.

When you get a call from a crap bastard spam caller, and you report it to the DNCR (do not call register), where all that happens is… absolutely nothing.

They send you an email saying that they have received your complaint, and that’s it.

Most of the crap bastard spam callers are rude as well. When you tell them please don’t call again (nicely) they just drop the line, not even an acknowledgement that you spoke, and then call back later in the week.

I block all callers that withhold their number, and that filters out some of them. And I add the numbers of bastards that give out their number to stop them being able to call back (great service from Verizon). But most spam-bastards are using banks of numbers so that isn’t entirely useful.

Phone spammers are the scum of the earth. The processes in place to not get calls from them are crap, and there is no relief in sight.

Gah, not again

If a politician were to propose ultra-punishments for these violators of dinners around the world, then that would be a big step to getting the votes of the middle class. I’d propose rotten fruit and stocks as a reasonable punishment, and for those who are big fans of guns, I have no issue with using those being punished for target practice (maybe paintballs or rubber bullets).

Home phones are a direct route into our personal spaces, and uninvited sales people are not welcome.

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If your pants keep falling down WEAR A BELT!

Is it a consequence of reality TV? Or is it that far too many people are being sent to prison. Whatever the reason there is a really stupid fashion out there, where kids wear baggy pants that fall down to their knees, showing off their underwear. It’s not just idiotic, impractical and unsanitary it’s also annoying.

I understand that the concept came from the fact that when in prison, jail or some other form of police custody, those accused of a crime are separated from any sort of belt or lace so they cannot hang themselves. And somehow this was translated into a fashion statement.

Pull up your pants!

I guess it’s some sort of homage to gang members, as it seems to be worn with over-baggy shirts, as used by gang members to hide the possible possession of a weapon. But here’s the thing, if you are wearing a baggy shirt to hide weapon in a waste band, and are letting their pants fall down to their knees, this means that you’re sticking guns and knives in the waste band of their boxers. Now this strikes be as being really, really silly. Why would you stick a knife inside your boxers? And are they strong enough to hold up the weight of a gun?

I don’t expect criminals to be Mensa members obviously, but it does seem sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy that idiots are likely to get caught and go to prison.

So people who wear baggy pants to emulate people who are in prison, are themselves likely to be in prison.

How about this as an idea. When someone gets arrested and held, make them wear a 3-piece suit and top hat. Create a new counter-culture where people who respect and want to emulate reality TV prisoners and gang members, can dress in pin stripe suits.

Maybe go further and make death row inmates wear morning suits.

Couldn’t hurt…. could it? (27)

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If anyone say’s “There is only one true religion” walk away.

Having grown up from two halves of a single cell into a complex ecosystem I feel entirely proficient to answer any question about anything. Of course I have no idea how correct my answers will be.

It amazes me (and angers me) that anyone believes that they have an ultimate answer to anything, and yet every day I’m bombarded with a mix of competing absolutes from politicians and religious nuts, and people who have been influenced by politicians and religious nuts.

Life can be hard, and for the multiple millennia that pre-date us is was clearly harder than it is today. Making people act in unison was (and is) a fundamental of civilization. Today we persuade people to act for the good of society (by working hard and not killing, stealing or having sex with their siblings) by threats of punishment (prison, fines etc) for bad behavior, and houses, clothes, food, entertainment, good health etc. for good behavior. It works pretty well if people are educated in the ways of society.

In the past it was much easier to coalesce people by creating a framework of things that would happen to you if you didn’t follow the rules, and nice things that you could look forward to if you did. Living in the past was tough, and a good deal of it was not that much fun, so creating a dream of better times after you died just made so much sense.

There never was any evidence for this dream future, but if you questioned it, limbs could easily be removed (as could innards), so questioning was curtailed pretty easily.

But here’s the thing; just because people under duress were made to believe ridiculous things for hundreds of years, does not means that you need to believe them when the threat of being burnt alive while tied to a stake is removed.

Evolution is a proven explanation for how complex viable environments are created from a large number of simplistic components. It makes sense and can be seen clearly by experiment. In fact using the principles of the evolutionary process allows a very clear understanding of how things work at a chemical, physical and biological level. The word “theory” is placed in sentences because the scientific process understands the nature of truth, and that it is not absolute.

Religious nuts and politicians know how to manipulate language to avoid having their powerbase undermined by inconvenient facts. Clearly it’s much better to have people give you things and do what you say, than to have them not give you things and not do what you say.

So rather than spend time helping humanity continue to improve scientifically, religious nuts and politicians will always prefer to limit change to those areas that personally benefit them.

No one person or group has a truth that is more viable than any other person or group. And as soon as any person or group tries to force their way on anyone else they are instantly wrong.

Having said this, there are some wonderful life lessons to be learned from all the major and minor religions. I love the sikh ideas of helping others, and the Judea-christian-islamic ideas of learning and ethics, along with the Buddhist concepts of mind and the really cool alien overlord ideas of scientology. But I’m not a fan of any of the restrictive ideals of all of these cults, or of the destructive and absolute nature of some of their most fervent followers and leaders.

There is clearly documented and examinable archaeological evidence that all of the major concepts in all of the major religions were part of peoples teaching well before the current religions were in place. This shows to me that the concepts were used as part of ancient peoples education systems to teach a code of ethics and behavior to allow for groups to work together for the ongoing benefit of society.

It is well documented (at least on the history channel) that the bible (basis of so many religions today) was crafted over many hundreds of years by scholars and it truly is an incredible piece of human work.

Just because something was created a long time ago and still exists does not give it extraordinary powers over people. Studying the stories that have been used for millennia to teach ethics, philosophy, morality and how to deal with complex situations is a good thing. Treating any single view as the only possible view, and allowing for no discussion is plain nuts.

I have some very dear friends who are deeply religious and incredibly intelligent. I respect their beliefs and have had the honor of celebrating many times with them, and honoring the memories of loved ones that that are no longer with them. And I have been proud to have them share in my life events in the same way. They have never tried to convince me of the perfection of their religion and I’ve never tried to convince them of mine. Quite honestly it’s never even been a conversation.

There are nut cases on street corners that I have passed, and the odd person with a shaved head and a pony tail, or well dressed youngsters with name badges that have tried to convince me of their unique truth, and I treat them all with the respect they deserve (not a lot).

Anyone crazy enough to believe that any old book is entirely true, is crazy enough to kill innocent people. There have been many examples of this through history. What I don’t understand is how anyone who purports to believe there is a god(s), can accept that their particular version of god(s) is better than every other version, and that their god(s) expects everyone who isn’t buying into their particular set of edicts is inferior and must therefore die or be damned.

At this point it all just fails. And the only possible answer is that it’s all total bullshit.

Sitting around and bullshitting with your mates has always been a good thing to do, and sometimes out of the bullshit you can have a good or even great idea (and it passes the time), just remember it’s bullshit and stop yourself if you feel you’re taking it too seriously.

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Consultant Speak

Tech Blogging   —   Is it news or commentary?

Does anyone know the difference?

I am impressed that some authoring tools for wannabe and isarenow bloggers include  the following grammar and style rules checking to be invoked at some point in the writing / editing / approval and posting process

But gee willickers, Batman, I don’t how any decent opinionated nerd with words can produce a few thoughts to share without at least 2 or 3 of the following elements:

  • Bias Language
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I am not sure exactly why this makes me so angry,  But I am sure someone will tell me how I

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The war on obesity is a big fat lie!

I AM THE AVERAGE ANGRY AMERICAN….AND I’M TIRED…

The war on obesity is a big fat lie! I am so tired over this sham of a war on obesity. PLEASE nobody cares if your fat what they care about is that you’re costing them money. Here’s the truth no one wants to speak….the problem is NOT obesity it’s ECONOMICS and I am angry at anyone saying otherwise. You want a real war, you want to fix a real problem, fix the socio-economic situation that has the poor eating happy meals and the wealthy having private chefs/nutritionists.

This whole obesity is costing us money is bullshit! Being über skinny costs us money too, it’s just private money not public money and that’s the REAL issue at war here. Think about it, you never see fat rich people. Why, because they can afford the nutritionist and the personal trainer, THEY NEVER HAVE TO EAT KENTUCKY FIRED CHICKEN!!! Though I’m sure if they craved some there chef would love to “bake” them some. If they were fat, they were poor, they got rich and they got skinny…Rosanne Barr, Cathy Najimy, Oprah Winfrey, Ricki Lake…get the picture. I am so freakin angry that the oligarchy of this country want you to believe they have your best interest at heart. Oh please, they have their wallets at heart. Has anyone ever added up the cost of healthcare for knee replacements, hip replacements, chiropractors, and all other “getting in shape” injury care. NO! And why not? BECAUSE THEY HAVE INSURANCE.
It’s not fat and skinny, it’s rich and poor and I am so angry that people pretend it to be otherwise!

I’m not saying anyone should ever weigh 400 lbs, but what about the people who are 6 feet tall and 100lbs? Why isn’t anyone having a war on the skin and bone anorexics? How about the “I need to smoke to stay too skinny” models? Where’s the public outcry for their health. It was a breeze banning trans fats, why? No money in it! Tobacco…need I say more. And while I’m ranting about the painfully thin supermodel, when was the last time a super model was discovered in a developed nation? Their not, their from POOR countries. They are not from the land of plenty that’s for sure. I am so freaking angry at the double standard…hell there is no standard other then the gold one.

For Pete’s sake STOP telling me it’s a health issue. STOP lying to me about how your trying to save my life. My obese grandmother lived to the wonderful age of 98 and she never jogged, pilatied, or touched a treadmill in her life! It’s simple economics…If the wealthy have to pay for it, and it in NO WAY benefits them, then they want it stopped. They declare war and put an end to it. Here’s a thought, lower the price of salmon to the price of a double whopper and more people will be thinner and healthier. Give people a living wage to buy chicken that is NOT FRIED and the war is over.

I am fucking tired…maybe I just need a nap (59)

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I’m angry about the new slave trade

The average wealthy (or at least not poor) American has a wonderful cheap supply of slave labor, and the great thing is that these new slaves have even less rights than the ones of centuries ago (yes I know this is absurd, and insulting, but think about rights and social values in the context of history). You do need to pay these new slaves, but a salary, which is only a small fraction of the minimum wage.

You don’t need to offer them any job security, health benefits or holiday pay or care in any way about their welfare. Hire as many as you need for a pittance of pay, stop paying them and they are not your problem. If you’re wealthy and happy to not think about the ethics this is a great deal.

But then along comes some bleeding hearth ethical types and they want to give your slaves rights. What the hell!

Of course we all use different words to describe this situation. If you’re a bleeding heart you call these people immigrant workers, while if your making hay while the sun shines you call them illegals.

The bottom line is that the deck is stacked against these workers. The very people they come to work for are doing everything they can to keep them status-less, while the people who are trying to help them are almost powerless.

If people who come to America for economic reasons (and didn’t follow the legal process) were ever to get legal work status, that would require them to be paid at least a minimum wage, and get the same protections as any other humans in the workplace. That would be very expensive.

Eventually it has to happen, slave labor is not a socially acceptable practice, and people are just starting to be called out on it.

Obviously it’s wrong for people to come to any country without following the approved process, but I feel that the very people who are hiring these workers are in effect directly supporting this illegal practice.

A simple fix is always to punish those who are hiring illegal workers. When the cost of breaking the law outweighs the cost of following it, then people (however unethical) tend to either follow the law or go underground.

Making it easier for people who are needed to perform work, to get legal work status, along with making it harder to hire illegal workers, seems like a reasonable course of action.

Yes it will make the costs of farming, manufacturing and construction increase (as wages and benefits will increase), but it’s one part of the process of fixing the new slavery.

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What the hell is going on with healthcare?

It seems to me that there is nothing more deeply personal than your health and that of the ones you love and care about. If you get sick, you don’t just ‘want’ to get better, it will become the most important thing in your life. It’s emotional, and will take precedent over everything else, and it should.

This means that any contract that you enter into about healthcare is loaded with stress and duress, and the basics of contract law are that any contract entered into under these conditions is not fair and equitable, and as such is not a fair contract. This may seem technical but it simply means that those papers a hospital or a doctor makes you sign saying that you are personally responsible for any costs not covered by your insurance shouldn’t be allowed. But yet they are.

The insurance companies, the hospitals, the lawyers and the doctors have created a special legal framework that is entirely weighted to their benefit.

And to add insult to this situation the American system means that the costs you are charged are list price, whereas the insurance companies get a massive discount on the bits they cover.

The costs of medical care in America are incredible, and the quality of the service is directly related to the amount of money you can pay.

Every doctor swears the Hippocratic oath. I’ve read this oath and frankly I feel that most US doctors are not living up to the spirit of the thing

Here’s a couple of sentences from the oath, they I’m sure your will agree are not the normal practice here in America :

“I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures that are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

“I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.”

In this country today people die because they cannot afford to get timely treatment, others go bankrupt because the costs that are not covered by insurance companies consume their entire worth and then some. Millions of people don’t have adequate or even any coverage, either because they cannot qualify due to pre-existing conditions or just cannot afford the monthly costs and still be able to eat.

Some say that for these people there is always the option of going to the emergency room. Well there are two huge issues with this. Firstly the emergency room will just treat them to the point where they are not going to die on that particular day; this is not an answer to a problem, but a stop gap. And secondly the costs that are incurred by doing this are just passed onto the ones who do have insurance, as increased premiums which have the effect of making premiums higher and so making them ever less affordable, exacerbating the situation.

The issue (as I see it) is the huge amounts of money involved. No one wants to give up his or her part of this gravy train. But it is clearly unsustainable.

The concept of reform in healthcare driven by government seems to be the only way to break this logjam.

But the size of the powerbase involved has so far warped the political process beyond anything reasonable. They are many great improvements within the healthcare changes that President Obama has lead. But it is just a small step on a very long road, and some critical elements of any good plan are missing or just wrong.

The cost of healthcare is far too high, and the quality available (on average) is far too low. We need lower drug costs, medical services driven by results and not on a per service basis. And we need to trust that doctors are doing the best they can, by us accepting that suing doctors is not the first step in fixing a mistake.

Healthcare that helps avoid medical issues by preventative support has been proven to be the most cost effective and rewarding way to maximize the quality of life.

This is a very hard problem to solve, but it must be improved. When politicians use any change or proposed change as a political weapon, rather than trying to work together to find the best solution, they are failing everyone.

We all deserve better.

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I am the average angry American and I am tired.

I am tired of commercial media that comments on the news instead of reporting the news. And I’m tired of the people who believe that commentary as truth. AND I am tired of these lemmings having the right to vote for someone who affects ME!

If you cannot give me ONE good reason why your flipping the lever for your candidate, other then spewing some rote memorized data  that a taking head has told you, or defend ONE position your candidate stands for, or telling me exactly and TRUTHFULLY  and HONESTLY  and IN YOUR OWN WORDS how this person is going to make this country a better place….you don’t get to vote.

You can vote for your local mayor, counsel person, school board or any one who has no presence or sway on the national stage and can ultimately effect ME!

It is common knowledge that if you want to drive you need to take a test to get a license. Why? Because your driving effects me. If you don’t know how to drive you can get into an accident and kill someone. Well the same thing goes for ignorant voters….your lack of knowledge can kill someone. Voting through ignorance and because some idiot talking head has told you to has lead us to a tea party, two wars, oil spills, poison groundwater, the near end of any social safety net, in fact the near end of any social conscience at all. I’m tired.

 

I am FUCKING tired…maybe I just need a nap! (6)

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