Monday, December 5th, 11:43 am: In which I channel my Inner CJ Cregg
Outraged? I'm barely surprised.
This is a country where black people are regularly killed without provocation or recourse by white police officers, and where "driving while black" is a serious demonstrable problem. This is a country where an entire city can have its water supply poisoned by rotting infrastructure and have the problem go virtually unreported in the press and completely unsolved for years because the majority of the people living there are black. This is a country whose entire agricultural industry is heavily subsidized by the presence of illegal migrant workers who make nowhere near a living wage, and the one time a state forbade the use of those workers the crops literally rotted on the vines because the farmers couldn't afford to pay the replacement workers (many of whom were white) the wages they demanded. This is a country where over 90% of the wealth and property are in the hands of white people.
But Brutus is an honorable man.
Last November we elected to the highest office in the land a man who has zero experience in public office, who faces multiple accusations of sexual harassment and possibly even rape, and who campaigned on a platform of racism and isolationism without a single detailed plan of what he'll actually do about anything, and he won in big margins in both white men and women because apparently white people believe that they're no longer getting a big enough slice of the pie. Because they feel ~left out~.
Am I outraged? No. That is America, our home sweet home.
me, in the year 2030, getting ready for a fancy dinner party commemorating the opening of the Elizabeth Warren Presidential Library, standing in front of my antique gold vanity mirror, wearing a John Phillips tuxedo with diamond cufflinks, taking a sip of champagne: What did you learn at school today, honey? :-)
my future grandniece/grandnephew, school homework spread out on my four-poster king-sized bed with burgundy brushed linen sheets: Not much. In history we learned about the 2016 election, do you remember any of that?
No, Livejournal. Major changes to the user interface should always be opt-in. DNW.
Tuesday, July 31st, 04:45 pm: I don't know why this needs to be said, but...
Dear everyone who has bleated about "freedom of speech" ever,
In terms of protecting speech, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides the following:
- protection from congress passing laws that abridge your freedom of speech.
That's it. That's all. (Actually it does other nice things, too, but in strictest terms of what it says about speech, that's it.) And it's not even 100% protection either; we still have the legal concept of slander, so if you say something you know is false and it harms someone, that's not permitted by law. So the First Amendment doesn't even completely protect you from congress.
For future reference, here is a list of the other things that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution does not do:
- it does not guarantee you venue for your speech - it does not guarantee you audience for your speech - it does not guarantee you protection from response to your speech - it does not guarantee you protection from consequence for your speech
Just because you have something to say it doesn't mean we all have to sit down, shut up, and listen to you. It doesn't mean if you say something really stupid we can't all say, "hey dude, that was a stupid thing to say." And if you say something REALLY stupid, it doesn't mean we can't say, "hey, that was a really stupid thing to say and because of it I'm not doing business with you anymore." In fact we can even say, "hey, that was a really stupid thing to say and because of it I'm not doing business with you anymore AND I am recommending to anyone who will listen that THEY shouldn't do business with you either. Because, you know, that was stupid."
If you want to stand up and say (for example) something really stupid like "I think our society is being harmed by gay marriage" then other people can stand up and say "I think our society is being harmed by bigotry."
My co-worker Sean Christman has put up his very first app on the Mac App Store: Space Gremlin, an app that helps visualize the files on your hard drive. It's way cool, and there's even a free demo available. If you get it and have feedback or questions, Sean sits like ten feet away from me. Well, when he's not in Ireland, that is, which he is about 30% of the time. Yes, he's that cool.
In other news, Sean and I will be working together on a project in a couple of weeks. He'll be working on an iPhone demo app, while I'll be retooling the client's current mobile web app using jQuery Mobile. Exciting stuff.
Thursday, November 18th, 05:52 pm: Because I don't know a loosing battle when I see it
Looks like I was wrong in my previous post. I said that there wasn't enough science to back up worries that the radiation exposure from the new full-body airport scanners is harmful. And I tried to put things into perspective by talking about relative radiation doses. Where I was wrong is that there is evidence and study about the harm that these scanners can cause.
What the letter doesn't say is that the radiation from the scanners is definitely harmful, or that those populations definitely are at risk. They are rightly throwing red flags, pointing out things they're worried about but don't have enough information to be able to make a determination. They're calling for more information, for more study.
Remember how I said, "My advice is to not use 'radiation exposure' as a reason why the scanners are a bad idea. The science is not there to back it up..." Pretty much what those guys were saying, they just had more specific concerns to go with the call for more study.
Thursday, November 18th, 08:38 am: On the full body scanners now in use in airports
I don't like 'em. It is basically what we've been joking about for years, become horribly real: the TSA has figured out a way to make all of us fly naked.
On the plus side, I've been seeing really encouraging conversations about privacy and privilege as a result of these scanners, and I've been seeing them in the "mainstream." This makes me happy.
But I've seen one common derailing point: whether or not the radiation exposure involved in being scanned is harmful. So I want to clear this up right now.
The science involved in our understanding of radiation is fairly precise. We know pretty much exactly the exposure involved in being scanned. What we're not sure of is exactly how this dose radiation will affect a person's physiology (this is mostly because the effect is not solely dependent on the physics of the radiation involved). So I can't say "yes it's safe" or "no, it's harmful" because I don't know.
I can, however, provide some perspective that I think will be helpful.
The dose of radiation from being scanned is between 0.005 and 0.009 millirems. This figure comes from studies done by experts in the field, not from the information given by the TSA or the company who manufactures the machines (who claim a slightly lower number). Great, so what does that mean?
0.009 millirems--let's round it up to 0.01--is, in fact, pretty small. During a three hour flight, you will get a dose of about 1 millirem: 100 times more than what you're getting in the scanner. And as someone on twitter pointed out, the difference between living in Atlanta and and living in Denver is about 50 millirems of radiation per year, just because Denver is higher (more cosmic radiation) and there is more uranium in the soil. I am speaking of the same kind of radiation in all of these cases, by the way.
So to sum up:
Are the scanners guaranteed safe? I can't say. But I can say that if you're worried about the radiation dose from the scanners, you shouldn't be flying anyway, because the radiation dose you're getting from flying is about a hundred times more than the radiation dose you're getting from being scanned.
My personal opinion, based on my knowledge of the physics of radiation, is that it's probably safe. We evolved on a planet that has a fairly low level of background radiation of various types, and it pretty much doesn't affect us until it gets way above those levels. These scanners are nowhere near that level. Neither is the radiation you get while flying, so that's okay too.
My advice is to not use "radiation exposure" as a reason why the scanners are a bad idea. The science is not there to back it up, and it serves for an all-too-convenient derailing point.