EdgeWise 2003/7


Cellular Irritation

So I'm interested in a cellular phone that I can sync the calendar with my Linux PC and make phone calls from around my house and around where I'm going to move. I expect something as uncommon as a desire to sync with a Linux computer to make information hard to come by, but it is surprisingly easy to find out. However, finding out if a particular carrier has coverage for a specific address is extremely difficult to do, especially when you only get to visually inspect a blotchy map of the entire country with most carriers (some give you a blotchy map of your state or subregion). Weird. Maybe I should add ability to use a cellular booster antenna to my list of criteria.
UPDATE: Ah. Here it is. The key is giving up on asking the carriers themselves. You go to google and try a few dozen combinations.
posted at 19:58:56    #    comment []    trackback []

Watch out, SC Johnson!

It looks like there may be a new challenger to the sandwich bag. No, not those disposable plastic boxes. No, not earthen jars. Edible Food Wraps Can Keep Kids' Sandwiches Fresh And The Environment Cleaner. It would be really cool if SC Johnson started making edible Ziploc bags.
posted at 19:31:12    #    comment []    trackback []

The Unconquerable World

Howard Zinn's review of Jonathan Schell's new book is pretty stirring. If the book is as inpsiring as the review, it should be worth a read. It's a persuasive argument that war in the modern age is always at greater cost (even to the victor) than anything it gains. That wars were economically unjustifiable has been well known since 1911, but Schell goes beyond purely economic analysis of what wars gain and cost a country (win or lose). He also honestly talks about the relative effectiveness, advantages and disadvantages of practical alternatives. While the violence (number killed) in each war has been increasing, the frequency of wars has been on the decline. It's not clear which trend dominates, but it is hopeful news that there is some counter trend.
posted at 14:25:04    #    comment []    trackback []

Amazing Falkirk Boatwheel

This is really an amazing thing. A few hundred watts and the thing can swap a couple boats a hundred feet. I am ruined for Carnival wheels forever. Check it out.
posted at 15:23:44    #    comment []    trackback []

The Better World Handbook Site

Hey, Look! Now the great taste you know and love is internet crunchy. Seriously, this book was full of good ways to make a positive impact. Some of it was hooking up with groups trying to make a difference. A lot if it is little things that you'd never think of, but that in hindsight seem obvious (as many good ideas are). For instance, if you work in a city that suffers from urban decay, rather than driving home to the suburbs to buy stuff (groceries, etc.), buy them in the city and drive it home. This will indirectly help pay for the roads and other things you make use even if you don't pay local property taxes. Handy.
posted at 21:47:44    #    comment []    trackback []

Flawed Political Candidate Quiz Rooks World and Dog

A bunch of folks in the political blogosphere got rooked by a political quiz. The problem with it is that it uses "winner take all" scoring. For instance, one of the questions:
8. HEALTH CARE (check all that apply):
  • Support a universal health care program to guarantee coverage to all Americans regardless of income.
  • Prohibit cloning of human embryos.
Now if you support universal health care, a candidate that supports expanding coverage to more of the uninsured should get some points, and a candidate that wishes to reduce government healthcare coverage programs (medicare, medicaid) should get less (or negative) points, but that's not possible here.

Even if you tried to be fair, what would the scale of points be based on? How 'Universal' the plan's access was? How much it cost recipients? Who would evaluate and assign points for the various candidates? How do you treat those who haven't committed either way?

This is not to say it is hopeless to cut through spin and prevarication to quantify how well an individual's views matches a candidate's positions. A Quiz could be rigorously designed that does just that, but this one is not it. People should be more distrustful of shortcuts and easy answers.
posted at 12:27:44    #    comment []    trackback []

Lightning Strikes Preacher Who Asked For Sign

Preacher: "Lord, show us a sign that we must repent."

God: "Okee-dokey" [Zap] "Wait. Was that the 'Royal We' (just you), 'We' including you, or the disingenuous 'We' that doesn't really include you?"

Preacher: *cough*

Congregation: "He usually means the last one, but you still got it right with going by the first one."

God: "Sweet. I'm outy."
posted at 09:57:20    #    comment []    trackback []

Rush, Newspeak, and Fascism via BitTorrent

David Neiwert, over at Orcinus has finished his largish essay on how messages from the violent, lunatic fringe reactionaries are toned down, transmitted, and made acceptable to mainstream audiences. However, he has a legitimate concern about the bandwidth costs of distributing it becoming ruinous, so I've made a BitTorrent available to distribute it in a Peer-to-Peer fashion. If you have the client installed, you should be able to just get it. Even if you are more concerned with transmission from violent Left wing radicals (I am told they still exist), it is still worthwhile.

Personally, I think that the dangers of Fascism (and Falangism) arising as political and social realities can only successfully threaten us if we allow their precursors to exploit fundamentally human, individual tendencies. The phenomena exemplified by those cast in Rush Limbaugh's mold (e.g. Hate radio, Michael Savage, etc.) is symbiotic with hatred. We have a partial solution in the work of the other Rush(Dozier, not Limbaugh). The unsolved portion of the problem lies in applying those methods to both the producers and the audience of hate filled speech in the face of the reality of modern media, which has a vested commercial interest in exploiting our stereotypes and hatreds, rather than in combatting them. Individuals are fickle when it comes to enlightened, positive emotion, but intense hatred is a surefire seller. Maybe Bales' work fits in here somewhere.

UPDATE: I should mention that those who download it via BitTorrent should still feel free to donate anyway.
[Suggested $5 donation] For those who wish to donate, downloading it via BitTorrent insures that a larger portion actually goes to renumerate his time and effort, rather than his bandwidth bill. Plus, Blogger is already slow enough without a slashdotting.
posted at 22:15:28    #    comment []    trackback []

Open Government Information Awareness

Remember Total Information Awareness? The Orwellian Big Brother that would collect every bit of data on you (your purchases, your associations, etc.)? Well now we have the opposite. Actually knowing the corporate and special interest ties for a government appointee. Huh. Imagine that. Now that's encouraging news appropriate to the fourth of July. Well, my chocolate tamales are done, so it's off to the party.
posted at 15:26:56    #    comment []    trackback []

Crazy Japanese Toilets

Bree told me about those crazy Japanese toilets, but this is just hilarious. You REALLY have to see this to believe it. The title link is to a cartoon demonstration of the usage of the toilet that is G rated. Potty humor is always great. I remember when someone first explained the bidet to me. I'm sure our own toilets are equally hilarious to people unfamiliar with them. I found this on Boing Boing.
posted at 11:58:56    #    comment []    trackback []

Persuading the Unreasonable

In TAP: Vol 14, Iss. 4. Breaking the Frame. Chris Mooney says:
A constant refrain in Bales' work is that people have deeply held preconceptions ("frames") that render their views almost impervious to new, contradictory information. "It's not enough to present evidence," Bales says. "You have to change the frame."
Very interesting stuff.
posted at 18:03:44    #    comment []    trackback []

Graphic Novels and Art Books

Ooo, I don't know about you, but I find that when I go to get presents for other people, somehow I often wind up with at least one present for myself. Last night I was buying graphic novels for a certain eight year old cousin, so I picked up the first three volumes of Akiko (always a big hit). I stumbled across Cortney Crumrin and the Night Things and I ended up talking myself into getting it too. It's pretty cool. Volume two comes out in september.

I also got Brian Froud's "World of the Dark Crystal" which is beautifully illustrated. I stayed up late pouring over it for hints of what they had intended to happen after the movie, but did't turn up much.
posted at 08:32:00    #    comment []    trackback []
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