Random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy, published every other day.

Tag: logic Page 1 of 2

Only the NY Times Could Write This Headline

Colorado’s Effort Against Teenage Pregnancies Is a Startling Success

This is Colorado’s approach to anti-abortion, and it’s working great.  A reality based program:

an IUD

  • Educate young women
  • Make long-term birth control available to them
  • They choose the option to not get pregnant
  • It works

How is this startling?  Who at the NY Times was surprised this would work?

When women have a choice, they choose a method that acknowledges their humanity – unlike “abstinence-only” education that imposes a bronze-age view of women’s sexuality.  By the way, if the Colorado program reminds you of the approach taken by Planned Parenthood, it should.  They are nearly identical.  Planned Parenthood truly follows the principle that “abortion should be legal, safe, and rare.”

The program was started with a private grant but now will need state funding.  Given that the Colorado state senate is controlled by Republicans, expect opposition.  Expect the same puzzling approach the so-called pro-life crowd take to Planned Parenthood: if you really want to stop abortions, shouldn’t you be handing out contraceptives on every street corner?  But the right-wing approach to abortion, contraception and sex-education is not about any of those things, it’s about men controlling women’s sexuality.

Please Don’t Leave a Message At the Beep

I don’t know exactly how long – at least eight years now – but I have been a hater of voice mail for quite a while.

Here’s the breakdown of ways that exist to reach me, in decreasing order of efficiency for you:

  1. Call my smartphone
  2. Text me at my smartphone
  3. Email (any)
  4. Call my desk line at work
  5. Call my Google Voice number (it’s in my profile)
  6. Text me at Google Voice
  7. Google +mention me  
  8. @mention me in Ingress (I’m Kahomono there)
  9. Message or mention me on Facebook (you can, but I wish you wouldn’t)
  10. @mention me on Slack (I’m Kahomono there also but I only look at it a few times a week)
  11. Google Hangouts (the planets really need to align for me to see this in time to act on it)
  12. Snail mail
  13. Find me and say Hi!

If you call my Google Voice number, you will have to leave a voice mail… BUT… it will be transcribed by Google and emailed to me, so I will read it and then respond.  (So, enunciate!)

If, however, you leave a voicemail at my smartphone or desk line, what I have to do is call another place that acts as a repository of your recorded voice for me to hear in order to know that you called.   This is 98% of what I have ever learned from a voice mail: Joe Bloggs called me and wants to talk to me, he wishes I would call him so I can leave him a voice mail telling him that I am agreeable about talking to him too, and maybe someday we’ll get to do that before the whole issue we want to talk about is moot. It’s a coin-flip whether that happens or not, by the way.

You know that my smartphone has caller-ID.  So does my desk line.  The phone companies don’t even get to charge for that anymore, it’s just expected.  And both my phones have visual indicators that I missed your call.  If I missed your call it’s plain that you want to talk to me, and I should call you back.  Why would you reiterate this in a voice recording?

On the other hand if you have anything to tell me in a voicemail that goes beyond “call me!” it’s more accurate and efficient for both of us if you would type it into an email or any of the other message formats… choose your favorite.

I was triggered to this rant by the note in the WSJ about JP Morgan Chase saving $3.2M by eliminating voice mail for over half its employees.  I would love love love if my employer did the same!  I can assure them, in my case at least, it adds no value.

Do you own your car?

Or does GM?  I’m not referring here to leasing vs. buying.  I am referring to the fact that GM has recently declared that only mechanics they license are allowed to work on “your” car.  And if you take it to another mechanic, or use less-expensive after-market parts, or connect the car’s diagnostic port to a home-brew or third-party device, the issue is not merely the possibility of voiding the warranty.  The issue is, GM can more or less unilaterally declare you to be in violation of the Anti-Circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).  You can be charged with a crime at the Federal level.

Here is where the evils of DRM (that I started to write about here) intersect with the entertainment industry lobbyists’ power to get stuff enacted into laws, and affect how we can use technology we think we own.  These laws have effects on our lives that are not at all well-understood, not even by the content-industry monopolists who paid to have them enacted.

Do farmers own their tractors?  According to comments filed by John Deere with the Copyright Office, they do not.  They are not allowed to modify any aspect of “their” tractor that is mediated by software, which is pretty much anything useful.  This article in Wired brings up a case of a farmer — a neighbor of the author — who cannot get his transplanter fixed because he is not given access to the correct diagnostic software.  And so he has a six-figure barn ornament.

In their comments in support of this policy, Deere points out that if they were allowed to tinker with the tractors’ software, farmers might change the engine tuning to violate the EPA pollution regulations.  Well, OK, but then they would owe the EPA a fine, not John Deere.  They might even use the in-cab entertainment system to pirate music.  (Roll that around in your brain for a minute.) Yes, that’s why the farmer spends half a million bucks on a harvester — to evade paying $9.99 for a Taylor Swift CD.


Biometrics Are NOT Passwords, Dammit!

Today in Stupid Extensions of Biometric Authentication: this item from Sophos.  Brainprints will apparently be the new fingerprints.

Here is what the press (and from the looks of it, half the security industry) seems unable or unwilling to get: you cannot change your biometrics.  You cannot ever change your fingerprints.  Nor can you ever change your iris, your retina, your “brainprint,” or any of the other too-clever-by-half schemes researchers may yet dream up for biometric authentication.

In fact, the whole idea of two-factor authentication has traditionally been based on “Something you know, something you have, something you are… pick two.”  We need to drop the last, and go with “Something you know and something you have” – period.

Fingerprints are already easier to steal than a password ever was.  Digital photography is probably good enough by now that iris patterns are equally easy, and retinal scans from afar cannot be that far behind.  What was that twinkle?  Oops, too late.  Once the “brainprint” technology is usable, its targets will be equally pilferable.

Just because it looked cool in 1970’s SciFi does not mean it’s truly going to be valuable in this century.

God Helped Ben Carson Ace His College Chemistry Final

This guy wants to be the Republican nominee for president.

I really really hope he gets that.  Maybe God will come to him in a dream the night before Super Tuesday with all the vote counts.  (Yes, I know it doesn’t work that way.)  This is the kind of Republican that makes me want to change my voter registration in NY so I can vote in the GOP primaries.

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