Tag Archives: Society

America: A Nation of I

I, the simplest way to sum up a single individual in the first person. I, the roman numeral for one. It is the most self centered and exclusive word in the English language, and it sums up the average American perfectly.
As a fellow citizen to this massive collection of singular view points, it pains me to see our country in the state that it’s in. We’re better than this. Inclusion is the foundation of our nation, not exclusion. When times are tough, all the I’s band together to form a We. We the people, not I the person and these other guys too.
Americans are to blame for the state of the union. Not Bin Laden, not Wall Street, Not Washington, and certainly not anyone else in the world. Americans turned a blind eye to finance and let it run amok. Americans let greed over come common sense and allowed our debt to balloon. Americans allowed our freedoms to be sacrificed in the name of security. Why? Let’s start with 9/11.
As a nation, we did not react so well to this tragedy. In fact, we lost our shit. Cries for revenge and “Never Forget!” rang out from across the land. That’s all fine and dandy, I’m a fan of vengeance myself. However, what was eventually accomplished with a small covert force, started with a massive military misadventure. I’m still not sure why nuking the region never came up, but I’m pretty sure the idea was floated at some point.
Then there’s the public violations required to participate in the privilege of flying over priced (and mismanaged) airlines. Listen, I’d prefer not to get blown up while flying, but if I have surrender even one of the freedoms I live for to do it, I’d rather die. At that point the terrorists win. Crotch grabbing for safety is not the sort of rational things non-terrified people engage in.
Speaking of rational, how much sense does it make to spend TRILLIONS!!!! (this should always be how this word is written) on tracking down and killing a few dozen guys who barely graduated to the 20th century, let alone the 21st. We have virtually bankrupted ourselves chasing down a bunch of guys who want to live in caves. They actually prefer a 19th century lifestyle.
And Speaking of cave dwellers, I’m looking at you tea party, let’s talk about the upsurge in fundamentalist ideology in this country. It’s hard to justify hating an all inclusive and diverse multi-cultural society. It is however quite easy to hate a xenophobic bunch of gun totting bible thumpers who have no respect for other religions, and are constantly being provided with the public eye they so desperately crave.
God told them this minor earthquake was a warning about the debt. He also told them a blown out hurricane was punishment for legalizing gay marriage. These are things said not by people who hope to hold an office someday, buy people who are already elected. Curiously, God has been silent on the matter of a hell like firestorm rampaging across a state known to be intolerant, racist, and hotbed for Christian fanaticism.
Let’s check the score. Floods, droughts, and fires in places that refuse to accept global warming on religious principle and a freak earthquake that knocked the steeple off the national cathedral. A not unheard of yet mercifully weakened monster storm to a place that recognizes love between two people regardless of design specifications. It seems to me that God isn’t getting his point across and really don’t want to hear him shout.
Faultcode, you say, these people only represent a small portion of this great and mighty land. This is true. The problem gets back to “I”. That small portion of I’s has formed a We. They are divisive and deceptive. They are manipulative and prey on fear and uncertainty.
Those of us I’s who choose discourse over volume need to form our own band of We. We need cease being individual Americans and become America.
America, home of the brave, we must stand up a face our fear and conquer it. America, land of the free, we must preserve our freedoms in the face of terror and despite of it. We must become a nation, not just a notion. We defy those who would hold our nation hostage with fear, especially those who we trust to run it.

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Sorry. What were you saying? I was having a moment with this thing in my hand.

Hi. How’s it going? It’s been a while. How are you? How are the wife and kids, and mistresses? Good? Great. Well enough of the small talk.
When I have a busy day, I get about three twenty minute periods between the madnesses to relax. When I first started, my coworkers and I would pass the time by joking, talking, or even watching a movie. These days that doesn’t happen. The breaks are still there, but the interaction isn’t. It’s not that the people are jerks or we hate each other. It’s the iPhone, well smart phones in general.
In a room of six people who get along pretty well, not one person is looking at anything that isn’t a tiny LCD screen. Six people who I know for a fact can pay attention, listen to what others are saying, formulate a thoughtful and intelligent response, and deliver it in a meaningful way, interspersed with witty banter and cutting sarcasm. Yet we no longer converse. The art of conversation has been bludgeoned by shiny little trinkets. Technology has changed the way we interact on a fundamental level, and it’s doing it quickly.
When I was in school, texting was done with pen and paper and passed from person to person until it reached it’s target. The only phone in the room was wired and bolted to a wall. Wireless communication consisted of real time vibrations in the air leaving the teachers mouth, traveling at the speed of sound to interact in real time with our ears. Before you accuse me of being too old to grasp the new tech, I just turned 33. However, my parents can relate with me because they had the same experience. My children will not have a land line, will not pass easily intercepted paper notes, or even understand how such primitive technology put us the moon. Which is where I hope they’ll be living.
Go to any restaurant and look for a couple. Now see how much time goes by before one of them goes for the phone. I’ll bet less than five minutes. Technology has brought the world closer by separating the individuals. We have unprecedented access to information, analysis, and commentary. What’s left to talk about?
E-books (we know my thoughts on those), laptops, and smart phones allow us to bring the things we use to pass our time alone along with us. Farmville, text messages, twitter updates, they all present urgent distractions from the most basic of human pass times. Interaction with other humans. We’re social creatures, and being with other humans is one of those things we just have to do. These days though, that physical proximity has been replace by our digital selves.
Our online identities are just as important to us as our social ones. We have near unlimited access to the lives of others. We know more about them at a glance of their profile page than with five minutes of conversation, and same is true of us. We don’t talk, we browse. We check the stats updates of people across town, across the country, across the world, while the person sitting across from you (whom you’re probably online friends with) is updating their status.
So I blame smart phones. They brought all of this crap out of the house and put it in the palm of our hands. Now, I’m not anti-technology, but I do miss talking with my friends. This change in our daily interactions took less than two years to become the norm. That’s how fast our world is changing.


Digital etiquet

In these days of everyone throwing all of their business on the web for the whole world to see, I begin to wonder about the rules of engagement. I’m not talking about hackers or identity thieves, but about the analog version of human interaction. Real face to face conversation with living humans your reach out and touch, and how our digital lives relate to our personal interactions. I ponder this because I don’t believe the web has been totally integrated into our concepts of personal space.
I’m a web savvy suburbanite, so of course I have a facebook page and two twitter accounts. The facebook page is for my family and far flung friends. I keep the friends list small and limited to people I actually know, and post stuff I would probably tell them over the phone (which I do far too infrequently these days). Basically, I manage my online interactions in the same way I manage my personal interactions. They’re the same thing to me.
For some though, it’s harder to be as selective online. If your facebook friends have 300 friends, surely you should have 300 friends as well. Accepting friend requests from people you hardly know is just the way it’s done. It’s awkward to deny a co-workers friend request and then see them everyday. Still, is it any less awkward when that new co-worker you just meet yesterday but accepted the night before comments on that Halloween party picture in your gallery? You know the one. Yeah… that one.
Where do we draw the line? How well should you know someone before you let them into your digital domain? When is it acceptable to discuss something you saw online (but weren’t a part of) with someone in person? Maybe that co-worker just wanted to feel like they belonged. Maybe they wanted to get to know the group better. How do we prevent awkward real world moments from being caused by digital openness?
Personally, I just post stuff I wouldn’t mind my mother seeing. She is a friend of mine on facebook after all. Are there pictures of me doing dumb things out there? You bet. Do I put them up for the world to see? Absolutely not.
When I get to that awkward place where a co-worker asked me why I haven’t accepted their friend request, I tell them the truth. I view social networking as a way to keep in touch with people I care about, not keep up with work scuttlebutt when I’m at home. Then I spend the next few months frequently denying their vein attempts at friending me (some people just don’t get it).
A few of my co-workers have gone so far as to delete their pages or all of their work friends. I wasn’t hurt or angry that they didn’t want to be my online friend anymore. My real life friendships with them certainly haven’t been impacted by it. Now when I say “What’s up”, I genuinely have no clue and the resulting conversation doesn’t seem redundant.
I’ve always advocated moderation in the online environment. I believe a person should cultivate a few strong relationships rather than many acquaintances. Social networking is a great tool for keeping in touch, but instant access to a relative stranger’s personal life is a bit much. On an unrelated note, follow me on Twitter @faultcode113.


Health Care as a guarantee of your right to life.

It’s no secret that health care has taken an oxymoronic turn for the worse in this country. The debate over it’s reform has a lot of people up in arms. Words like recision and socialism have crept into every day conversation. So, let’s you and I talk about it. If you’re from outside the US, feel free to chime in. I’m Interested in people’s opinions who live in countries with government run or controlled health care.
That said, lets look back in history and peer into words of our fore fathers. In the Declaration of Independence we have three of what they call inalienable rights. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I’ve already given my thoughts on the pursuit of happiness, but what I want to look at right now is life. It occurred to me that our current health care system is in direct conflict to this inalienable right. When an insurer takes away your coverage, after you’ve paid your premiums and jummped through their hoops, they are infringing on your right to live. You’ve played their game, by their rules, and they still won’t play fair.
This is where I think socialized medicine should come in. We need to decouple the word socialism from communism and think of it more like public works and infrastructure. I think the government should be involved in our health. It’s their job to look out for our well being. When decisions about our health and well being are being made by a group who are more concerned about profit than people, I believe the government should act on the behalf of the people. Plenty of other industries are regulated in the interest of the public, and health care should certainly be no different.
Those in the government who are influenced by health care lobbyists will tell you that socialized medicine is expensive. Well, it is. You may pay more taxes, but you might not ever pay premiums or copays again. You would also have the peace of mind in knowing that a major illness won’t lead to bankruptcy and that you’ll get the treatments you need. Additionally, the government has a vested interest in keeping you alive. You pay taxes, and they want your money.
In almost all major illnesses early detection leads to greater success in treatment, but if it’s cost prohibitive many people wait until it’s worse than it ever should have become before seeking treatment. If the government is picking up the bill, then you can go to the doctor at the first sign of trouble.
There are some other benefits to socialized medicine. The government can focus on prevention and healthy living by encouraging (and paying for) regular screenings and check ups. By focusing on prevention and early detection, the government actually save money by avoiding costlier more invasive and time consuming treatments. This would then benefit you by not leading tax increases to pay for expensive procedures.
A healthy populace is an important aspect to any government. Healthy workers make for more efficient and productive workers. A more efficient and productive work force makes for a stronger economy. A stronger economy means higher wages and better benefits. You win again.
People, socialized medicine is not a restriction of you personal liberties. It is in fact guarantying one of your inalienable rights as stated by our declaration of independence. Socialism is not the end of the American dream, it is not communism, and it is not going to replace our representative democracy.


Actually, the brick wall was more receptive…

My fellow Americans, we need to talk. You, collectively and individually, are not the center of the universe. Most of you voted for change, but when the price of that change was clear you balked. Logic, reason, and understanding have fallen out of fashion. Now I must be stern with you, so here are some facts.

Your have been robbed. You are still being robbed. The people who wrecked our economy still have their jobs. They work on Wall St. and they will wreck it again.
The government helped them rob you through decades of policy. Nothing much has changed there either.
Health care is broken. It is expensive, exclusive, and unreliable.
Death panels are already here. They are the Insurance companies and their practices are called it recision. Look it up.
Socialized medicine is a good thing. It means everyone gets health care.
Socialism isn’t a four letter word. S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-M. See it has nine letters.
Yes socialized medicine might raise your taxes. But then you won’t be paying premiums or co-pays.
Church leaders are not objective. Stop getting your information from them. I’m looking at you Evangelists/Fundamentalists.
News organizations are not objective. You should get your news from a variety of sources.
Just because it’s on tv, a website, or in print doesn’t make it true. Do some research before you make decisions.
Scare tactics are there to scare you into a certain point of view. Do not fall for it. Again… research.
Fear is the mind killer.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Squeaky wheels are usually broken in some way. Don’t trust them. Replace them.
The environment is being ruined. We are doing it.
The planet is in no way in danger. We are. Once we destroy our habitats and die, it’ll get along just fine without us.
Our president deserves at least as much respect as the last one. Tomorrow I’ll read about some idiot with no sense of history calling our president a Nazi. Again.
This will accomplish nothing. All of about three people read this blog.
Change is coming. Good or bad, it’s on it’s way. The status quo in our nation is unsustainable. We can make positive changes now, while we still have a choice. That option will not be around forever. Your choice America.


Leave the keys under the mat…

Greetings from my newly independent (and 100% open source) desk top. Linux is running fantastic, and it’s even fun. My 6 year old desk top runs like new with it’s completely open source brains. That said, I begin to wonder about the future of open source. With Google weighing in on the OS game, the idea that open source is the future is certainly appealing. There are some issues to contend with though.
Open software certainly has some things going for it. You get a basic and functional piece of software, as well the ability to customize to your own uses. There are tons of add-ons and extensions to make you OS or browser into what ever you want. The point is that you have tons of people trying to improve the basic functionality with the encouragement of software developer, to various degrees of success. However, you have to have at least a basic understanding of how the software works to even participate.
There’s a down side to openness. The small percentage of computer users who have embraced the open platforms have been playing nice. They’ve enjoyed a nearly nonexistent threat level for the same reason Mac users have. There simply aren’t enough out there to make a virus or worm worthwhile. However, as Mac found out not too long ago, the threat is still there.
Another thing I’ve discovered is that Firefox has some amazing extensions out there, and most of them are created by people in their spare time. One extension that I absolutely loved had lapsed out of date because the developer simply stopped working on it. As software evolves into newer versions, an effort needs to be made to make it easy for 3rd party developers to update their creations. Firefox does a great job of releasing beta and release candidate versions into the wild, and this tactic should work well for other open source systems. Android and Chrome haven’t been around long enough, and I’m too new to Linux, to know if they do the same.
In my field on employment Linux is quickly becoming the preferred OS. The reason being that it’s flexible, reliable, and totally adaptable. Open source evolves and changes very quickly to meet the needs of it’s users. However, in this era of IT overlords, the thought of having a constantly evolving OS to keep up with would give them night mares. They need need to know that when they finally do spend the millions of dollars to update the company’s computer infrastructure, that they won’t have to do it again for a few years. In thirteen years with my company, I’ve seen this update happen three times.
For open source to succeed as a movement it needs to be easy, rock solid reliable, constantly supported, and have today’s versions be relevant years down the road. This isn’t the kind of thing you can keep doing for free. My question is, do we want to become wide spread? I kind of like having a system that’s unique. My Window’s friends see me as an experimenter, while my Mac friends just don’t understand it at all.
It’s kind of like being a “Car Guy”, but with computers. I get to open up in it’s engine and tool around. It’s not for everybody. For that reason, there will always be Microsoft and Apple.


Geek is the new black…

I like to think that I walked between worlds when I was in school. Not that I’m some sort of spectral wanderer. Just that I managed to associate with a wide variety of cliques. I played soccer and biked, was in orchestra, was in the smart classes, knew my way around electronics, and of course was into sci-fi (not sy-fy). Of all these worlds, the one I got the most grief for was sci-fi.
Well now things have changed. The two most most popular characters for the young are a wizard and a vampire. The newest Star Trek movie was universally agreed upon to be good. Holiday weekends are now celebrated with cook outs, beer, and a comic book movie. Amazingly, I hear the word “Frak” at least once a day, and not from my lips.
What changed? Well the geeks of my generation are now in charge of everything. We own the movies, tv, book publishing, and the web. Geeks have transformed the media into what they want to see. Sure, there are a lot of other fine offering on the table. Things like chick flicks and suspense thriller, but it’s the geeky stuff that makes money.
Geeks have convinced teenage girls that not only is it OK to date a vampire, but it’s probably better than their current boyfriends. Geeks have parodied the attractive. The drop dead gorgeous guys and girls in a movie are there to be made fun of or made into object lessons. Our heroes are now the technologically inclined FBI agents or the scientist who read a lot of comics.
In the last Die Hard movie, saving the country came down to holding off the bad guys while the geek fixed the computer. The geek is always the one who read somewhere about the weird stuff happening to the characters. Geeks have saved us from alien invasion, asteroids, plagues, serial killers, vampires, and zombies, and we paid $8 a head to watch. The conversion continues. My wife is now firmly in the grip of two geek oriented shows.
What now? I say fly your geek flag high. Watch the shows your kids are watching. You’ll be as cool as the popular kids. Say the word “Frak”. It conveys the same sense as “Fuck”, plus it confuses the uninitiated.
Enjoy it while it lasts. The cycle will continue, and geek pride will go the way of hammer pants and hair bands. In the mean time, I suggest a few geek oriented items for your amusement. “Leverage” on TNT is about con artists. “Warehouse 13” is a steampunk looking version of the X-files on Sci-Fi (I can’t bring myself to use Sy-Fy yet). Then there’s also “The Strain” by Guillermo Del Torro and Chuck Hogan. Think vampire, zombies, and parasites all mixed up. It’s worth the read, but will probably end up on film or TV.