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Rationalizing O… May 17, 2012

Posted by nukemhill in Uncategorized.
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Rationalizing Our Approach To Safety In Space.

Here’s the link to his project.  Hope he gets the funding.  It sounds worthwhile.

Is It Treason? Getting Close. April 19, 2012

Posted by nukemhill in Constitution, Economics, Politics (Ghahh!), Tea Party.
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Found this today. Love it.


Well, I can’t seem to get the widget to work. It’s supposed to be a counter, indicating how long it has been since the U.S. Senate has passed a budget.

They’re losers. But so am I, apparently. Can’t get an iframe to work on this page….

Control the Grassroots Conversation August 21, 2010

Posted by nukemhill in Politics (Ghahh!), Tea Party.

I originally made this comment over at Ace’s blog, on this post.  But I decided it was worth my own post.  Ace makes this point, in the middle of a larger post, which is worth reading in total:

Further, not voting, and not getting out the maximum vote possible among conservatives in such districts, also loses out on all those important state legislature slots, those judgeships, those crucial Board of Elections postings, the AG, the Secretary of State

My response was this:

This is critical. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve spoken with a few Tea Party organizers here in Maryland, and some seem to get it.  Getting control on the local level is really the key to the process. And it needed to start years ago, given how close to the precipice we are as a country. At this point, it may be too late.

As it is, we need to organize at the local levels, run candidates for local boards, county seats, and state legislatures. Get people into positions where the machinery is controlled. Once we have our hands on the levers, we can bring much more integrity to the processes.

And then we work our way up the ladder. Win the gubernatorial races. Control the legislatures. Defeat the trolls who are our “representatives” in Congress. On both sides of the aisle.

But it has to happen from the ground up. We may very well take Congress back this Fall. But that will just lead to gridlock,which is not necessarily a bad thing; but we need to reverse a shitload of bad actions, and gridlock won’t allow for that. If we don’t reverse the badness coming our way, then the voters will either give up or vote new people in. And we have to have more fire power in place at the local levels to take advantage of the discontent.

This is a multi-year, if not decades long, fight. The only way we’re going to win it is at the grassroots level. We have to control the conversation at the local level.

I will say, in addition, that there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that Tea Party organizers around the country seem to understand this.  I’ve heard about them taking over precincts, running for county seats, etc.  It is happening.  It needs to happen at warp speed, though.  There is so much “bad politics” inertia built up over the years that it is going to take a tremendous amount of energy to overcome.

Hopefully, it’s not too late.

The biggest problem the Tea Party movement is facing, frankly, is the nature of its structure.  In spite of the fact that there are several national-level organizations claiming to represent the movement as a whole, it is by its very nature a very localized phenomenon.  Yes, there have been country-wide protests on particular days (tax day, 4th of July, 9/12, etc).  But I think they’ve only been successful as a sum of the locally organized protests.  There is not some huge monolithic national structure that runs the party from the top-down.  It is inherently a bottom-up organization.  Which is both its strength and its weakness.  It’s a fabulous venue for people to express themselves, and feel like they’re making a difference, at the local level.  But it’s difficult to enact anything on a national level.  Herding cats and all that.

However, the advent of Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc., have lent a great deal of new strength and power to social movements, which the Tea Party is, make no mistake.  Given the incredible ease with which people can instantly communicate and organize, the Tea Party, I think, can afford to exist as a loose confederation of many groups.  Having national figureheads, like Palin or Beck, can be effective for giving facetime to our messages.  As long as they’re truly speaking for the “movement”.  On the other hand, I’m getting kinda tired of getting Yet Another Email from Joe the Plumber.  He’s a great guy.  But he really doesn’t speak for me.

But in the end, the power of the Tea Party lies in its ability to localize.  It is the people on the streets, building their businesses, paying their taxes, making ends meet in this hideous economy, who make the difference.  And it’s those individuals being engaged in their local politics that will ultimately make the difference.  Or not, if they disengage.

That’s where the Tea Party holds all the power.  Engaging those people.  Getting them to educate themselves.  Tracking the actions of the local politicians.  Voting their consciences.  Being in action.

Controlling the grassroots conversation.

Kafkatrapping July 26, 2010

Posted by nukemhill in Philosophy, Politics (Ghahh!).
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Wonderful post by Eric Raymond on what he has labelled as “Kafkatrapping”.  Here’s the meat of his case:

Good causes sometimes have bad consequences. Blacks, women, and other historical out-groups were right to demand equality before the law and the full respect and liberties due to any member of our civilization; but the tactics they used to “raise consciousness” have sometimes veered into the creepy and pathological, borrowing the least sane features of religious evangelism.

One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”, and the above the Model A kafkatrap.

I see kafkatrapping all the time.  And it is particularly infuriating.  It’s not too long of an essay, but there are hundreds of comments.  All, well worth reading.  One almost throw-away comment by Eric is worth pointing out in particular:

The distinguishing feature of bad social-change movements is that they seek coercive power over people who are not themselves coercing. The distinguishing feature of good social-change movements is that they seek to limit and prevent coercion. The tragedy is that good social-change movements almost invariably get seized from inside by high-functioning sociopaths and turn into bad ones.

Entire books could be written on this.  So often, legitimate movements are co-opted by people seeking nothing more or less than moral authority and power over others.  It is almost always fear-based.  It is almost always to suppress different thinkers.  And it’s absolutely not about fighting and exposing hatred and prejudice.  It is not about seeking racial/gender/sexual equality and harmony.

It’s about power.  Not power to free.  Power to control.

edit (2010-07-28):  for clarity

Webmaster ‘netiquette May 17, 2010

Posted by nukemhill in General Interest, Technology, Web, Writing.
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Had to come back for this.  Stephen Green over at Vodkapundit has a blog post on nasty things webmasters do:  Flash, popup ads, etc.  Read the whole thing, including the comments.  Some great stuff there.  I think, in all my spare time, that I might put together at least a series of articles on this.  There’s really no excuse for some of the crappy things webmasters put on their sites.

Good stuff.

AAPL chart with the big meltdown on May 6th May 17, 2010

Posted by nukemhill in Apple/AAPL, Economics, Investing.
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Love it.  It’s so out-of-the-ordinary for a stock chart (well, not anymore; you’ll see the same for lots of the major players on that day).

Missing Links, June 2nd Edition June 2, 2009

Posted by nukemhill in Apple/AAPL, Constitution, Economics, General Programming, Politics (Ghahh!).
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Some economics links:

Other miscellaneous links:

Some programming stuff, mostly ASP.Net.  It has been all .Net, all the time.  Mostly, I’ve been pleased.  Google has definitely been my friend:

Focus and Concentration May 16, 2009

Posted by nukemhill in General Interest.
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Another Times article:  The Science of Concentration.  Here’s an extended quote from the later part:

Ms. Gallagher advocates meditation to increase your focus, but she says there are also simpler ways to put the lessons of attention researchers to use. Once she learned how hard it was for the brain to avoid paying attention to sounds, particularly other people’s voices, she began carrying ear plugs with her. When you’re trapped in a noisy subway car or a taxi with a TV that won’t turn off, she says you have to build your own “stimulus shelter.”

She recommends starting your work day concentrating on your most important task for 90 minutes. At that point your prefrontal cortex probably needs a rest, and you can answer e-mail, return phone calls and sip caffeine (which does help attention) before focusing again. But until that first break, don’t get distracted by anything else, because it can take the brain 20 minutes to do the equivalent of rebooting after an interruption. (For more advice, go to nytimes.com/tierneylab.)

“Multitasking is a myth,” Ms. Gallagher said. “You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.” She points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.

“People don’t understand that attention is a finite resource, like money,” she said. “Do you want to invest your cognitive cash on endless Twittering or Net surfing or couch potatoing? You’re constantly making choices, and your choices determine your experience, just as William James said.” [emphasis mine]

Her book is Rapt, at Penguin.com.

Pogue on What’s *Really* Important in Technology May 16, 2009

Posted by nukemhill in Apple/AAPL, Technology, Video/Photography.
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NY Times article on what matters in technology–not what they tell you is important:

  1. Camcorders.  Out:  Zoom; In:  Wide-Angle.
  2. SLRs.  Out:  Megapixels; In:  Sensor-size.
  3. Cellphones.  Out:  Coverage; In:  Coverage.  The problem is, the coverage claims by the various providers sucks, no matter what.
  4. Computers.  Out:  Price; In:  Value.  (Gee, is he talking about Macs?  Yep.)

Links for Selection Sunday March 15, 2009

Posted by nukemhill in Uncategorized.
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Go Terps!

Better control of Safari through Saft.  We’ll see what happens with Safari 4.0.

I need to start researching Wikis for the SEVIS II working groups.

The case for due diligence in research.  In particular, around climate research and the public availability of data and code used to perform analysis.

How Harding fought off the Depression of 1920-22.  And it wasn’t through massive government expansion.

Privacy settings everyone should use in Facebook.

Normblog:  One-eyed in Gaza.  Once again, all of the international outrage has been reserved for Israel in its attempts to defend itself.

Reason magazine on Liberaltarianism.  As I stated in a comment on VodkaPundit–why the hell should Libertarians be trying to tie themselves to either of the big parties?  They’re both corrupt to the core.  “Sleeping with lepers only makes your penis fall off.”  I think that’s one of my funniest lines ever.  But that’s just me.

Steve McIntyre, at Climate Audit, has some choice words over the use of principal components in the temperature analysis of the Antarctic.  I can’t say I have a real deep understanding of the concepts, but it seems to be related to eigenvalues (and eigenvectors), and the attempt to create “virtual” representatives of larger datasets.  Here’s a long article on Principal Component Analysis, which is a huge deal in statistics and analysis.  I need to read it.  Here’s a book written by one of the big minds in the field.

The risk analysis formula that destroyed Wall Street.  There’s an old adage–“if everyone else is doing it, you’d better start running in the opposite direction.”  A definite truth for the current crisis.  Everyone started using this formula to analyze their level of risk regarding the derivatives that were ubiquitous in the markets.  Which pretty much made them all subject to any gaps or flaws that existed.

Boyd on Strategy.

Bloggingheads TV on the Stimulus.