America the Beautiful

So, I got an email from “the White House” titled “Protecting one of America’s most beautiful places”. It included a link to this item on protecting the Arctic Refuge.

I immediately thought of another beautiful thing in America I’d like to see protected: The Bill of Rights, specifically the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. That is, our right to make phone calls and drive around and carry cash and use computers and read library books without being tracked as potential criminals by our own government.

A Follow Up: Heh yeah, like Uber cares about the law!

In Closing: At least “that librul commie Muslim Kenyan” has brought down the deficit!; changes how I see dating websites; heh; polls are funny; getting nervous.

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Music Monday: How does it feel?

 

To give away your latest album in AARP Magazine?

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What has the Bloody Government Ever Done for Us?

So it turns out that Boehner knows that fixing the roads and bridges before they fall apart altogether is important. He thinks he can find the money for that out of tax “reform” that is somehow or another not raising taxes at all.

In Closing: FBI; shirt; Takei; and the sad truth about illegal immigration.

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Not So Simple

So, just to make sure you’re up to speed before we get rolling. Uber put together service in Nevada arguing that they’re just a technology service that happens to connect consumers to people who are willing to drive them in private cars for a fee but they’re so not a taxi service. It looks like a duck and quacks like a duck but somehow it isn’t a duck. Nevada courts said “What you’re doing is illegal. Stop it!” Some days later Uber said “Ok fine, we’ll stop breaking the law but we’ll bury you under a petition until you let us do whatever we want, bwahahahaha!”

Since then, Uber has had a couple of little assault problems in other states, which is unfortunately nothing new. In one country, Uber has decided they don’t give a darn about being banned. Yeah, way to show how much you want to follow the law by simply ignoring it.

Got that? Ok.

Today the Review Journal published an article that begins by saying all Nevada has to do is copy-paste some other state’s laws to make it all good. Later down, concessions are made that yeah, we kinda have to address the public safety issues. And sorry, the safety issues do go beyond what kind of insurance they are required to have and what kind of background checks drivers need. Keep in mind that Nevada requires background checks and fingerprints on hand for a whole bunch of professions (including real estate agents and casino workers), so I’m one of the people who thinks its reasonable for Uber drivers to give them up too. Most of the coverage I have seen doesn’t mention that in Nevada, taxi drivers have commercial drivers licenses and have to pass a DOT physical every couple of years. Further, taxis get regular professional maintenance, which is something you can’t count on from one of the independent contractors using private cars for Uber.

So the short version is that the  only easy fix is for Uber to follow the same rules that taxi companies currently follow in Nevada. Anyone who believes otherwise doesn’t understand the problem (or doesn’t want to).

In Closing: Tardigrade; “Nobody’s paying attention anymore? Good! Scrap the plans to scale back mass surveillance”; translating Joni Ernst.

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Bad Habits: Firearms Edition

So, 2014 set a shameful record: most guns in carry-on bags seized by the TSA. Worse yet, over 80% of them were loaded. No shock that the rootinest-tootinest gun-totinest airports were DFW, Atlanta, and Sky Harbor. Not because they’re kinda southernish, but rather because they are big hub airports. For the record, it appears that there were 30 guns found at Vegas’s McCarran Airport, 9 unloaded and 21 loaded. It is unknown/unknowable how many weapons might have been missed by the TSA.

Now, who are these people who forget they’ve got a loaded gun in their carry-on bag? It’s not like guns not being allowed on airplanes is a new thing and people are just forgetting they have to check them now. It’s been the rule as long as I can remember, and I remember when Madonna was a hot new artist.

So if you’re in the habit of carrying a firearm, please do yourself and everybody else a favor: make sure it is secure so that it can’t be accidentally discharged, and lock it up at home before heading to the airport.

In Closing: Starbucks; Measles has arrived in Vegas; minimum wage and racism; cats in glasses; and perspective.

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Maybe I Need One More Habit

California wants to use more facial recognition to solve crimes. Never mind that this is a not-ready-for-prime-time technology, and even license plate readers make mistakes (and come on, there’s only 36 choices per character!). Heck, today I learned first hand that the system used by the Nevada DMV can be stymied by glasses vs. no glasses.

So, I suspect I’ll be in the habit of wearing sunglasses and hats more often. Probably good for my eyes and face anyway.

In Closing: free tour with purchase of car; Gin and Tacos; an idea with ridiculous potential for abuse.

 

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Do No Harm

Today’s question:

Hippocrates famously said: “Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm.” Add one more important habit to his list.

Never mind that he didn’t actually say any such thing….

But as long as doing helpful things and refraining from doing harmful things is the topic, let’s go back to another ancient source, a fellow named Siddhartha Gautama. He taught that we would be happier if we followed eight habits, including seeing the world as it really is, paying attention why we want things, saying the right things (not saying bad things), doing the right things (again, not doing bad things), having a job that is good for the community or mankind (yeah, maybe “assassin” isn’t a proper career path), putting a good effort into all we do, being aware, and focusing on things where appropriate.

You don’t have to believe everything he said to think those are good ideas.

In Closing: keep looking up; a research problem; unfortunately I doubt they mean it; finally somebody thought about it (at least a little); Dayton; civil rights; words.

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Thoughts on the State of the Union Address

The President characterized the Trans Pacific Partnership as “Americans writing the rules.” It would have been more accurate to say corporations writing the rules. I did like how he dealt with Republican clapping when he announced that he’d run his last election. I wonder if maybe he didn’t ask Senator Franken for some tips on dealing with hecklers. Here’s somebody who actually knows something about economics talking about some of the President’s tax ideas. I do hope his college proposal doesn’t just extend the time when youngsters have the security of not having to necessarily have any skills.

The Republican rebutting the President (whose voice I find patronizing and annoying, but that’s on me) called Keystone XL a “jobs” bill when it is nothing of the sort. And once more I ask: if this stuff is so great and it’s going to create so many jobs, how come the Canadians are letting us ship it here rather than processing it there?

On good and bad habits: it’s apparently easier to do yoga while sober (I’ve never done it drunk, so I don’t know); thinking and doing; America isn’t the only nation that has a racism problem; healthy eating tips; avoiding salt doesn’t necessarily have to be one of those tips.

In Closing: fair housing and Ferguson; sensible; pointlessly gendered; 100 students; not a bad simplified explanation of how viruses work; the boy who rode his bike; and exploding kittens.

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Music Monday: Come Out

Here’s a long overdue habit for some people: see others as human beings rather than members of a group of people. Or as one guy put it, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Racism (and sexism) should have gone out of style a generation ago. Yet, somehow or another there are those that think it’s ok to criticize the President’s heritage rather than his policies. There are people who fear or think themselves better than those who are different — bafflingly, often at the same time! This is the 21st Century; time to stop it.

Since each of us is an individual, that means each of us must stop ourselves if we have an unworthy thought before it becomes a despicable action.

In honor of MLK’s birthday, I bring you music from the Civil Rights era. Come Out is an early work of minimalism. I recommend listening in stereo and giving it at least 3 minutes before you decide whether you like it or not. I’m a little disappointed that so little is said about the technique of layering tape recordings that differ ever so slightly in timing.

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What a laugh

Believe it or not, there are people who think President Obama is liberal. Isn’t that a good laugh?

In Closing: miscarriage; I already said this; measles; and beavers…. with parachutes.

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