Obama plays the “got nuthin left to lose” card


I wish this didn’t have to happen, but the Telcos and cable companies have been total dicks about this. They’ve created bandwidth scarcity where this is none. They’ve colluded and they’ve conspired to have it both ways — money from customers and money from content providers — all the while with plenty of profit to make our internet the fastest on the planet for half the money. Instead, they bought themselves new houses in Telluride and Teslas to take them there. Fuck ‘em. I’m all for free enterprise, but bad boys need to get spanked. Hard.

Reason contributor and Clemson University economic historian Thomas W. Hazlett defines Net Neutrality as “a set of rules…regulating the business model of your local ISP.” The definition gets to the heart of the matter. There are specific interests who are doing well by the current system—Netflix, for instance—and they want to maintain the status quo. That’s understandable but the idea that the government will do a good job of regulating the Internet whether by blanket decrees or on a case-by-case basis is unconvincing, to say the least. The most likely outcome is that regulators will freeze in place today’s business models, thereby slowing innovation and change.

via Obama: Government Should Regulate Internet to Keep it Free – Hit & Run : Reason.com.

School sucks. Here’s why.

But students move almost never. And never is exhausting. In every class for four long blocks, the expectation was for us to come in, take our seats, and sit down for the duration of the time. By the end of the day, I could not stop yawning and I was desperate to move or stretch. I couldn’t believe how alert my host student was, because it took a lot of conscious effort for me not to get up and start doing jumping jacks in the middle of Science just to keep my mind and body from slipping into oblivion after so many hours of sitting passively.

via A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned | Granted, and….

This is a natural result of the mechanized learning we have imposed upon our young people. I had professors at UMass who pointed this out. School is not about bolstering the intellect or even rote learning as much as it is about social conditioning. We don’t have the resources to treat every student as an individual, but as a raw piece of clay we can at best hope to mold into something productive.

Not every kid is going to be an Einstein or a Bill Gates, but the requirements to address kids as individuals will forever outstrip our ability as a society to provide the resources to make this happen. Sorry to say, but some kids probably deserve more attention than others. Just don’t tell that to the parents.

Stop it! Just stop with the double spaces already!

If you do even a little bit of research on this topic, you’ll find plenty of articles practically begging you to stop using two spaces. Slate‘s Farhad Manjoo went so far as to say that it is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.

via Nothing Says Over 40 Like Two Spaces after a Period! | Cult of Pedagogy.

I learned to type in the 1970s on big, heavy Royal typewriters under the instruction of the indomitable Mrs. Porter and Classical High School in Springfield, Massachusetts. We learned the double-space  after period convention for all the reasons cited here in this story.

On the very day I learned that the Mac used proportional fonts and therefore no longer needed a double space, I stopped. I just stopped. It wasn’t hard, and in fact, it was good because the new way actually saved me some effort.

Now thirty years into the PC area, it shocks me to see how many manuscripts I receive from clients for their websites, brochures, and whatever — where the double-spaces still show up. Who is still teaching the kids to do this? No one in any decent public school even knows what a Selectric is!

Libertarian yet?

Of course, French creameries haven’t changed their recipes for any of these classic cheeses. But their wheels are flunking now because the FDA has drastically cut allowances for a typically harmless bacterium by a factor of 10.

via FDA restrictions keeping some great cheeses out of stores – LA Times.

We are talking about a food that hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years. Somehow, the human race has survived all this poison being spread around by French cheese makers, but that isn’t good enough for your government.

Parent like an IT admin

Another great article from Lenore on her “Free Range Kids” blog:

Recently, I’ve seen a surge in articles and social media posts about the need to monitor teens’ behavior, especially online. A friend posted about the topic and her friends suggested everything from having all of her kids’ emails forwarded to her, to viewing all of their friend’s friend’s friend’s accounts on social media to see what kind of kids her kids they hang out with. One mom reads her teens’ texts every night. Another has software that monitors and tracks all internet usage.

via Why I Don’t Watch What My Kids are Doing Online : Free Range Kids.

My attitude about monitoring my kid’s growing online activity is similar to that adopted by most companies for their employees. In fact, I used to tell my own employees this: I don’t monitor everything you do on a computer, but you should conduct yourself with the knowledge that if I want to, I can.

Most computer systems today, especially Macs, give parents some very granular controls to fine tune the features to make available to the user. It’s not perfect, and the most determined kid is likely to find a way around it, but every computer keeps a log of its activity. Parents can and probably should consider themselves as IT administrators, but they should not exert dictatorial controls for exactly the reasons the writer cites.

Postal suicide?


I really don’t get this one. Yesterday, I dropped a letter in my mailbox and raised the flag to signal the carrier that I had a pickup. Later that day, after the mailman made his delivery, as expected, the flag was down.

I didn’t expect I’d find the letter still in the box, and I really didn’t expect to see the stamp ripped off the letter as well. Did my mailman tamper with my mail? You can see in the image above the torn fibers around where I placed the new stamp.

My wife suggested that maybe some kid did that, but what kid cares about stamps today? Anyone younger than 20 doesn’t even know what a letter is and probably never mailed one.

Like everyone else, I do mail a lot fewer letters than I used to, and in fact, this one is actually an invoice to a client that does not have email. When I ran my magazine, the Postal Service got a fair share of business from me — thousands of dollars over ten-plus period. I’ve never seen anything like this, though.

Something new every day, it seems.

The Amtrak Philly commuting branch! Oh baby…

This idea would take Amtrak right through my town allowing me to travel directly to NYC without a transfer at 30th. I salivate at the prospect. My commuting options by train open up exponentially.

The good news is that there is a place where such a connection could be built. It’s near Woodbourne station on the West Trenton line. South of this station, the West Trenton line tracks pass under the former Pennsylvania Railroad Trenton Cutoff, which connects with the main Northeast Corridor line at Morrisville, just across the Delaware from Trenton. A two-track flyover there from south of the crossover to east of it would allow for the through Commuter Tunnel service Previdi would like to see. Build that, and restore the catenary from the junction to Morrisville, and we’re in business.

via The One Big Problem With Bringing Amtrak to City Hall | News | Philadelphia Magazine.

Cops and their toys

Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo. so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? (“‘This my property!’ he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.”) Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone“?

via Police militarization in Ferguson, Missouri – Overlawyered.

Well, I guess the terrorists have won. Because of our completely irrational response to the 9/11 tragedy, we spent like drunken sailors to turn our local police forces into storm troopers. Why are suburban cops wearing camouflage? Why do they have armed personnel vehicles? What’s next? Abrams tanks?

Getting out of my face

bye bye facebook

Edited August 26, 2014

I am now largely Facebook-free. I keep a discrete account there which I use primarily to maintain access to the RoadsideOnline page, but otherwise, I’ve left the building. I choose now to focus more of my social media consumption on Google Plus, where I mostly use it for the feeds that reflect my personal and professional interests. I’ve found that most of those companies and organizations that post to Facebook also have a presence on Google Plus.

Essentially, I grew tired of Facebook’s intrusion into my online experience and manipulation of my timeline. When I “like” something, I expect that I will receive any and all posts from that source, not the one’s that Facebook thinks I’ll find interesting. Google also doesn’t seem (at least not yet) to care too much about my personal life. It’s not constantly asking me questions about me or forcing ads into my feed.

I’ve largely left behind about 250 “friends”, from which I mostly hear from only about a dozen on any given week. Most of the time (and I say this with peace and love), I find their posts uninteresting at best or downright infuriating at worst. I had already taken to “unfollowing” a large percentage of these friends.

The worst of this chatter gravitates towards politics, and sadly, I’ve lost a few of these friends over political disagreements. I’m inclined to be provocative with my opinions — something well-understood by anyone who truly knows me, but my attitude towards all this is simple: I really don’t care if you disagree with me. I care more about your attitude and your intellectual curiosity.

I’ve learned that people’s stances on life and politics evolve through personal experience more than anything seen on Fox News or read on the Daily Kos. Tolerance requires that we at least try to understand the history of that experience.

Off-the-cuff and combative remarks like “fuck him in the ear” bespeaks of a lazy mind first of all, and a dangerous lack of tolerance. I cannot abide by that, especially from people I call my friends.

This isn’t the first time I jumped off the Facebook train, and I won’t say that I won’t return. This move does force me to focus better on my tasks at hand. I found that whenever I hit a lull in my workflow, I would automatically check on my Facebook timeline. That, of course, could waste anywhere from five to fifteen minutes each time. Lord knows how much that totals, but my sense tells me that it was killing my productivity.

Google Plus has some downsides as well. My actual friends and family don’t use it all that much, so I can’t interact as often. Again, I’m not entirely sure that’s a bad thing, but it does make me feel somewhat out of touch. Also, I have many iOS apps that all-but-require a Facebook account to work, which is another reason why I do maintain an account. At least I don’t feel like Google Plus wants to take over my life

Overall, however, Google Plus gives me a better balance of information — at least for now. It also has a MUCH better interface.

I have by no means left “The Grid”. I still have Beeblehead.com and my email addresses, not to mention my AIM and Skype handles. I just can’t endure the noise generated by Facebook which has, in effect, turned everyone into a publisher, editor, and broadcaster all in one.