Monday, January 5, 2015

Tab clearing: #1 of 2015

I tried hard to do a weekly 'Around The Blogs' post last year, but it became very difficult.  The pressure of time trying to write, and moving house, and a bunch of other things, meant that I just couldn't keep up.  Also, there were lots of articles and posts I wanted to use that weren't on blogs, and so didn't fit into a blog-related post.  Accordingly, I'm going to try to do a 'Tab Clearing' post at random intervals, which will reference blogs, news sites, or anything else of interest that I've found.  I'll group them together in roughly subject order where possible.

Here goes with the first edition of 2015.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave a remarkable speech to Islamic theocrats recently, in which he (in so many words) called for an Islamic version of the Reformation.  It was an exceptionally courageous call, because he'll now be in the crosshairs of every single Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group and individual in the world.  Such calls are the rankest heresy to them.  Nevertheless, he's right - that's exactly what Islam needs.  Go read more, and give thanks that at least one Arab leader has had the courage to lay it out there for all his people to see.  We need to support this man in every way we can.

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Blogger, author and policeman Chris Hernandez administered a kick in the metaphorical ass to current politically correct trends in an article titled ' “Microaggressions”, “Trigger Warnings”, and the New Meaning of “Trauma” '.  Here's a brief excerpt.

If your psyche is so fragile you fall apart when someone inadvertently reminds you of “trauma”, especially if that trauma consisted of you overreacting to a self-interpreted racial slur, you need therapy. You belong on a psychiatrist’s couch, not in college dictating what the rest of society can’t do, say or think. Get your own head right before you start trying to run other people’s lives. If you expect everyone around you to cater to your neurosis, forever, you’re what I’d call a “failure at life”. And you’re doomed to perpetual disappointment.

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Generations of Americans experienced actual trauma. Our greatest generation survived the Depression, then fought the worst war in humanity’s history, then built the United States into the most successful nation that has ever existed. They didn’t accomplish any of that by being crystal eggshells that would break at the slightest provocation, they didn’t demand society change to protect their tender feelings. They simply dealt with the hardships of their past and moved on. Even my great uncle, the Korea Marine, never expected us to tiptoe around him. He wouldn’t talk about his experience, but he didn’t order us not to.

So again, **** your trauma. If your past bothers you that much, get help. I honestly hope you come to terms with it. I hope you manage to move forward. I won’t say anything meant to dredge up bad memories, and don’t think anyone should intentionally try to harm your feelings.

But nobody, nobody, should censor themselves to protect you from your pathological, and pathologically stupid, sensitivities.

There's much more at the link.  Well said, Sir!  Hear, hear!  More!  More!

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Looks like our privacy, even within the four walls of our own homes, is about to take an even greater hit.  Google's NEST 'smart thermostat' will now 'talk' to other appliances and apps in your home to adjust settings according to what you're doing.  Unfortunately, I'm willing to bet it'll share that data with marketers and anyone else willing to pay Google for access to it;  as Politico points out, 'Smart grid powers up privacy worries'. 

Last February the Financial Times warned of how increasingly ubiquitous electronic 'snooping' is removing every vestige of privacy at work.  Now it looks as if that trend is following us home.  Therefore, I have no intention of ever installing any 'smart appliances' in my home;  and if they're all that is available, I'll either disable the 'smart' features or do without that appliance.

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The American Interest points out that 'Politically correct climate change orthodoxy has completely destroyed our ability to think rationally about the environment'. True words, those.

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I've written several times about this problem;  follow those links for more information.  Over the recent holiday season it looks like the problem grew by leaps and bounds.  Consider these reports:

Folks, malls and major shopping districts in many cities are rapidly becoming 'no-go' areas for the security-conscious among us (including yours truly).  Read those reports for yourself, assess the risks for yourself, then decide what to do . . . but choose wisely.  For myself, I only go to malls when I absolutely have to (which isn't often), and I'm always well armed on those occasions.  If the mall restricts my right to be armed, I won't shop there at all.

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That's all for this edition. More soon.



Eric Wilner said...

Regarding those smart appliances... there are plenty of things I'd like to do with connected gadgets, but, alas, instead of providing some basic (and open!) form of strictly local communication, the manufacturers seem intent on having each and every gadget sign onto my WiFi network and talk to some remote server.
I see three problems with this, offhand. Obviously, anyone with access to the remote server can monitor my activities, whether for advertising purposes (hello, Google!) or for something more nefarious. Secondly, the "connect to the cloud" scheme means I can't just use the data locally for my own purposes. And, thirdly, every one of those gadgets, paid for by me but not under my control, is a network node talking to the outside world from inside my firewall, with unfettered access to my local network.
So, if I want any smart appliances that do what I want, it looks like I'll just have to build them myself, or hack into dumb appliances with my own electronics.

By the way, these reCAPTCHA challenges are getting nigh-impossible, between the nonsensical "text" and the illegible presentation. I think I need a robot to decipher them for me. (Oh, great. While I was typing that, my reCAPTCHA session freakin' timed out! Gotta go through the process again....)

Anonymous said...

You could expand that. With NSLs, any Gov't agency can monitor your life, along with the commercial companies. Thus the Corporations & Gov't walk hand-in-hand, to record your life.

On the illegal side, what about encrypting every appliance in your house, unless you pay a "ransom" to re-enable them, along with turning your refrigerator into a Spam Bot (already happened).

-- Steve

Anonymous said...

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), "A 'deeply personal' picture of every consumer could be grabbed by futuristic smart gadgets, the chair of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has warned."

The Old Man said...

NMFP. I am of your general age, Peter. I can slide for the rest of my days without being buggered by the nannies unduly if I do it properly. This has been a war between government and private control of one's life for the last 35 or so years.
The patriots may not win, but they won't lose.
Won't be pretty or civil.