Fuzzy Is Missing

Fuzzy the Himalayan cat (a cross between Persian and Siamese) lives down the street. We got to be friends about two years ago when I was riding my Trikke by his house (I ride a Trikke for exercise.) We met one day when he was hanging out by the street (we don’t have much traffic). I stopped and squatted down and talked to him. He came over cautiously and I petted him cautiously. As we got to be friends, he would hurry out to get a scratch when I came by his house.

He was a great friend after our Siamese cat Scooter died last spring. I missed Scooter terribly and really enjoyed scratching Fuzzy. He couldn’t get enough scratching and purred his pleasure loudly. I told him that Scooter was gone and that I appreciated his company.

I haven’t seen Fuzzy lately. Today as I passed his house one of his family came out and I asked him about Fuzzy. He said Fuzzy has been missing for about two weeks. It made me feel sick.

About two weeks ago we started hearing coyotes yipping behind our home in the middle of the night whenever a siren went by in the distance.

I hope Fuzzy comes home soon.

The Right to Internet Access

I’ve always been in favor of the right to arm bears, and I agree with Martin that Internet access is key to political freedom.

Source: Telepocalypse by Martin Geddes: Shoot the messenger

The ability to access Internet content and services is the new Right to Bear Arms.

Wow. I’ve said it. So what does it mean? The founders of the United States of America in their wisdom saw the seizure of excessive power by government as a central risk. To counteract this, they ensured the general populace would always be sufficiently armed. This gives any putative dictator or tyrant pause for thought before exercising the machinery of government violence for undemocratic ends. The price is a certain undercurrent of everyday violence, but the experiment has by and large succeeded. The USA is one of the longest-standing constitutional democracies, and has withstood extraordinary change in demographics and fortune during that period.

We’re moving from a society where physical force was the prime means of coercion to one where ideas have ascendancy. Physical force doesn’t scale well as a means of subjugation. It’s one thing to take a man’s posessions; quite another to persuade him to make your dinner every night for nothing. The hardest part of the civil rights movement wasn’t undoing the yoke of the white man, but persuading the everyday black man that it was his inalienable right to have that yoke removed. Once that was achieved, the outcome was largely a foregone conclusion.

Building tyranny is harder when the populace is armed with good information. It’s not impossible; indeed, a tyranny of the majority is still a major risk. But when I can have a cheap encrypted Skype conversation with Iranians, Syrians, and Mexicans, something qualitative has changed. For example, when I visited Syria a few years ago, we went to Hama. This town was largely razed in 1982 (with the loss of tens of thousands of lives) when its own army shelled the city to put down an Islamic uprising against the Baathist government. I pass no comment on the politics of it, but merely note that this is a little-known episode of history. You certainly don’t see it mentioned on the official tourist website. Can you imagine keeping such news under wraps in the era of video cameraphones, satellite Internet and Skype?

Consider a populace that wants to rise up against its political masters. We’re already at the point where the government response isn’t to take away the populace’s arms, but to take away its means of communication. Militias don’t congregate in the woods and more, they start their own Yahoo! group and MoveOn and Meetup from there.

There’s no point in demanding universal access if you don’t have the economic means to deliver. Much of the debate is about means, not ends. But those ends deserve greater exposure and reflection. If we are serious about transformation of society through information technology it means sweeping away many of the special protections the telecom industry has managed to accrue, enforcement of competition law, and greater collective effort to deploy connectivity and open up wireless and fixed rights of way.

There’s more at stake here than cheap phone calls and unlimited TV channels. Cheap airlines have done more for European cohesion and understanding than decades of political exhortation. Cheap, ubiquitous and unfiltered communications are becoming a prerequisite of a pluralist participative democracy. Societies that fail to encourage the free flow of information will suffer because ingrained interest groups will ensure the rules are set up to perpetuate their privileges. When you can’t make a Skype call, you’re losing something more than money.

You might believe that your political system is a stable one delivering endless contended freedom and openness. But your average American feels a lot more secure in that knowledge with a rifle in the basement. I’d want the same feeling of security, just with symmetric gigabit fibre so I can host my own subversive content if necessary.

Next time someone is vigorously defending the existence of filters on the Net, dig deeper. Don’t ask them for the logic of their argument. Rather, try to find out why it excites them so much. Perhaps they aren’t aware of what animates their own passions.

Owls All Around Us

Two Great Horned Owls were chatting by hooting in the woods behind our house last night. Also, I heard a Screech Owl call at the same time. I couldn’t tell if there were two screech owls or just one.

We’re happy to have such vocal neighbors. And since we don’t let the kittens out, we don’t worry about the great horned owls snacking on our kitties.

Bush Under Attack — from Conservatives

Excerpts from the conservative newspaper The Business highlight why traditional conservatives are so unhappy with Bush’s performance.

Source: George Bush, the Manchurian candidate >> .:thebusinessonline.com:..

…This newspaper is second to none in its pro-American sentiments; in the early Bush years it devoted much ink to defending the President against the often malevolent and ignorant attacks of a congenitally anti-American European media. But we know a lost cause when we see one: the longer President Bush occupies the White House the more it becomes clear that his big-government domestic policies, his preference for Republican and business cronies over talented administrators, his lack of a clear intellectual compass and his superficial and often wrong-headed grasp of international affairs – all have done more to destroy the legacy of Ronald Reagan, a President who halted then reversed America’s post-Vietnam decline, than any left-liberal Democrat or European America-hater could ever have dreamed of. As one astute American conservative commentator has already observed, President Bush has morphed into the Manchurian Candidate, behaving as if placed among Americans by their enemies to do them damage.

…The damning charge against Mr Bush is that, instead of using the continued dominance of the right to finish the large amounts of uncompleted business from the Reagan revolution – sorting out the social security system, simplifying the tax code, tackling America’s abysmal primary and secondary schools, reforming corporate welfare with the same gusto as welfare for the poor was reformed, forging a new consensus to wage the war or terror – Mr Bush has failed in all these areas, and in some has taken America backwards.

There is now a distinctive fin de regime stink about Republican Washington. Karl Rove, the President’s eminence grise, has been called to testify before a grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA officer’s name. The cronyism of Ms Miers’ nomination to the Supreme Court is now the rule in DC, not the exception….

President Bush and his entourage are cultural conservatives, rather than radicals in the mould of Reagan, who was driven by his belief that freeing individuals and liberating the economy would produce a new and better society. The attitudes of Team Bush are driven more by upbringing, emotion and simple religious faith rather than an intellectual belief in the superiority of private action and the market economy. Instead of completing the Reagan revolution, which should have been Mr Bush’s historic mission, he is dangerously close to wrecking it. If the Republicans go down to defeat in the mid-term elections of 2006 and the presidential election of 2008, they will have only themselves to blame. But it is ordinary Americans who will pay the price for Mr Bush’s numerous follies.

via Barry Ritholtz

Yahoo! Mindset: Intent-driven Search

Here’s a way to use Yahoo and eliminate the Buy It Here listings. Move the slider to researching (away from shopping) and you eliminate sellers. Very cool.

Link: Yahoo! Mindset

Mindset: Intent-driven Search

  • Find the results you like.
  • Sort the way you need.

A Yahoo! Research demo that applies a new twist on search that uses machine learning technology to give you a choice: View Yahoo! Search results sorted according to whether they are more commercial or more informational (i.e., from academic, non-commercial, or research-oriented sources).

via John Battelle’s Searchblog

Mccartney digs out old Epiphone guitar for new album

Source: Mccartney digs out old Epiphone guitar for new album.

Sir Paul McCartney re-tuned the old Epiphone guitar he played on the Beatles’ Taxman and Paperback Writer for a new track on his latest album.

Producer Nigel Godrich insisted McCartney dig out some of his old instruments for his latest album, Chaos And Creation In The Backyard, and the rocker dusted-off one of his old favourites, even though he knew it was tough to keep the instrument in tune.

He says, "(I remembered) George (Harrison) let me have a go (on it) for the solo (on Taxman) because I had an idea – it was the early Jimi Hendrix days and I was trying to persuade George to do something… feedback-y and crazy.

"I like to play on it because it’s oldish and a bit infirm. It won’t stay in tune easily, like Jimi Hendrix’s guitar didn’t."

McCartney bought the guitar after watching Hendrix perform one night – and called out to pal Eric Clapton to help him tune his axe.

He recalls, "I went to the shop and said, ‘What have you got that feeds back great?’ That was normally a disadvantage in the old days."

You do what you eat

Source: Ode

Forget tougher punishments and hiring more police. The solution to crime and violence is on your plate. Here’s how healthy food can reduce aggressive behaviour.

At first glance there seems nothing special about the students at this high school in Appleton, Wisconsin. They appear calm, interact comfortably with one another, and are focused on their schoolwork. No apparent problems.
And yet a couple of years ago, there was a police officer patrolling the halls at this school for developmentally challenged students. Many of the students were troublemakers, there was a lot of fighting with teachers and some of the kids carried weapons. School counsellor Greg Bretthauer remembers that when he first came to Appleton Central Alternative High School back in 1997 for a job interview: “I found the students to be rude, obnoxious and ill-mannered.” He had no desire to work with them, and turned down the job.
Several years later, Bretthauer took the job after seeing that the atmosphere at the school had changed profoundly Today he describes the students as “calm and well-behaved” in a new video documentary, Impact of Fresh, Healthy Foods on Learning and Behavior. Fights and offensive behaviour are extremely rare and the police officer is no longer needed. What happened?
A glance through the halls at Appleton Central Alternative provides the answer. The vending machines have been replaced by water coolers. The lunchroom took hamburgers and French fries off the menu, making room for fresh vegetables and fruits, whole-grain bread and a salad bar.
Is that all? Yes, that’s all. Principal LuAnn Coenen is still surprised when she speaks of the “astonishing” changes at the school since she decided to drastically alter the offering of food and drinks eight years ago. “I don’t have the vandalism. I don’t have the litter. I don’t have the need for high security.”

via Minding the Planet

15 Years Old and Wise

I read a story in the local newspaper about a 15 year old girl named Aubrae.

Hanging on her bathroom mirror was a sign she drew with inspirational messages for each letter of her name.

A: "Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits."

U: "Understand yourself in order to better understand others."

B: "Believe in yourself."

R: "Read, study and learn about everything important in your life."

A: "Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits."

E: "Enjoy life today. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come."

Aubrae Leigh Gunderson, 15, of Covington was struck by a van and killed Monday while crossing Ga. 138 on a training run with her cross country team. 

Link: Atlanta Journal Constitution | ajc.com

I can’t comprehend this kind of reality.