Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Regarding the New York transportation strike

I have heard several people make comments regarding the MTA strike. Most of what I listened to was essentially visceral rage. How dare they, fire them, etc.

I wish we treated people like the MTA managers that stole 1 billion dollars in the same way. I wish we still remembered who is Kenneth Lay with similar fury and indignation.

But we do not. And in that way, we seem willing to punish what we perceive as union greed more harshly than corporate greed which costs us much more than a walking inconvenience, or even money. Because the people that repeatedly lie about polluting our environment, the people that rip our pensions and retirements apart, the corrupt people we vote into office, and the people that send us to a war for no reason... none of those people receive the treatment we are dishing out today.

So my friend... I hope we remember this day and muster enough indignation to do something when the issue at hand is much more important. Because when we do not do that, we do not amount to much more than the hypocritical behavior we fail to condemn.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

What you get is what you create

I think that as pressure to ease our consumist tendencies increase, the overall quality of whatever pacifier we choose decreases.

Evidently, the pacifier companies want to sell more than they want to be helpful. This is because their own pacifier is money. Since we cannot do with a single pacifier for more than a relatively short period of time, then the quality of pacifiers past that critical time window is pointless. Consumers, addicted to pacifier-like substances, will buy another pacifier anyway.

Therefore, in general it seems that we have the expectation that we will stop using things rather sooner than later. Our possessions become our toilet paper. When manufacturers figure that out, they cut costs further by not designing their products to last. And therefore if someone comes along and actually demands quality, fine: sell them a multi-year extended warranty (which now looks like a repair warrant). Other than that, consumers will just go and get another one because they just can't help themselves, so quality does not matter.

I remember disgusting instances of this behavior that goes largely unpunished. Among my favorite examples, there is the Ford Focus 1999, which in its first year was recalled 11 times. One of those recalls addressed the issue of the car bursting into flames for no reason whatsoever.

I also believe that we consume much more than just things. In our lack of education, unable to think for ourselves, we also consume our own inner peace in terms of statements that we desperately want to believe in spite of any and all evidence against them, such as:

  • This rather ancient book says the world was created out of thin air less than 10 thousand years ago. Since I like the book even when it does not provide any proof for its assertions, thousands of years of scientific investigation must be made illegal because I do not like their conclusions. I know Truth, I am Truth, and therefore anybody that I disagree with must be wrong.
  • Clearly I am not going to hell, and therefore I have the moral right, privilege and obligation to persecute gay people because clearly they are going to hell. I have the power to force people to conform to my own image.
  • Poor people are poor because they want to, and as such they do not deserve assistance. I have the power to decide who is valuable and who is not. I help pruning the worthless people off the face of Earth.
  • I feel threatened, therefore I shoot. I have the power to decide who lives and who does not.
If someone came over talking like the italicized text, how long would it take for you to evaluate the individual as a psychopath?

I think that, in part, this kind of stuff happens because of our so-called education and cultural context. One way or another, we end up so deeply addicted to things that come from our environment that we completely dismiss the idea of creating something on our own. We want to live in the Matrix. We do not evaluate things like self in our mind, and we become a long procedural mess, full of inconsistencies, bugs and atrocities we tenaciously refuse to debug*.

This state of mind prevents us from realizing how valuable our own lives can be in terms of what we can create for ourselves. Thus, we do not give a rat's ass about anybody or anything either.

We suck.

*Note how closely this mimicks the situation of most software projects.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

sounds.google.com

Searching for stuff on the Internet is easy, as long as things have been labeled in some language. We can do text because it itself is written in a language. Images are more or less ok, as long as someone describes them.

But how do you search for the name of a song when all you know is how it sounds? Therefore, I think that when computing power doesn't have anything better to do, we should give ourselves the ability to search for sound by submitting our whistles and hums.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

So, watching the news on TV, eh?

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. --- Isaac Asimov

Saturday, December 03, 2005

When all is privately owned

There is this argument that says that you can have all the free speech you want, but that you will be protected only against what the government could do. The typical example is that badmouthing your employer in public will get you fired. Let's extend this line of thinking and see what happens.

So... what will happen when all universities are private? You say something that is not in the interest of profit, and then you cannot teach? Or inconvenient stuff gets censored from the library? Or you cannot study at all? Or you are even punished with community service, expelled, arrested or prosecuted?

So... what will happen when all types of health care are private? You say something that is not in the interest of profit and you sign your death sentence? No transplants for you? No hospitals, no doctors, no anything?

So... what will happen when all types of law enforcement and military are either private or directed by private interests?

Really?

In other words, if you don't have money, shut up and be thankful that you have a chance of being a slave. And you better comply because if not the people with money have the tasers, the microwave blasting humvees, and who knows what else waiting for you.

The authority in this argument is given by money. How can we claim we have any sort of freedom when this kind of thinking goes unchecked?

When we go ahead and simply equate "poor people" with "bottom of cost benefit analysis curve", and "rich people having too much of a power trip" with "the masters of the Universe", I truly believe we really suck.

"A science is said to be useful if its development tends to accentuate the existing inequalities in the distribution of wealth, or more directly promotes the destruction of human life." --- Godfrey Harold Hardy