...but there is no danger of people participating in a democracy

by Terry 1/6/2010 1:29:00 PM

Apparently how a person might have been incarcerated is more important than the fact that a person managed to act in ways to become incarcerated in the first place.

“Washington state felons should have voting rights, federal court rules”
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010708869_felons06m.html

<snip>Ryan Haygood of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund said such cases are "very hard to win." But he described voting by incarcerated felons as the "best tool to re-integrate them into society."

"There is this view that there is reason to be fearful, but there is no danger of people participating in a democracy," said Haygood, who worked as co-counsel with Weiser on the case. "You don't lose when people participate in a democracy. That's especially true of people who are incarcerated."</snip>

I am skeptical that voting has been scientifically validated as the best means of integrating a felon into society. I would venture there are more effective re-socialization methods than allowing people demonstrably socially-shunned a way to vote change in the society that shuns them. Not everyone deserves the privilege to vote themselves back on the island.

If the means of incarceration are suspect, address that directly. The State declared rights to protect its own social stability. Indirectly addressing a law enforcement process of possible wrong-doing does not protect the underlying principles being altered. It neither protects the social contract the State was given to enforce nor does it address the rights of prisoners who may be improperly incarcerated.

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Keeping it in the Cloud, a Cloudy issue

by Terry 10/15/2009 8:49:00 AM

With the recent T-Mobile and Microsoft Sidekick data loss incident, it is clear Cloud Computing is often mischaracterized as a safe means of data access, storage and application access. Take this quote from this report on the Sidekick issue.

“The Sidekick service, run by Microsoft unit Danger, is supposed to be more secure in storing data because it is kept in the "cloud," which involves storing information on the Internet and not one physically vulnerable location, making the temporary loss of data striking.”

What strikes me is the misconception in the statement. The data loss is striking because it is believed that cloud computing is secure and safe. Sadly, just because data is available on the internet does not make the data safe or secure. Just because an application is on the internet does not guarantee its availability, longevity or protability.

Take for example a service like Shutterfly, or Costco’s online print services. Karen, my wife, has made some fantastic albums using these services. The costs are reasonable, the quality is great. I have no complaint with the outcome (with one exception with Shutterfly sending invitations which had no printed text, but this ultimately had a good outcome).

Once I upload data, pictures and text, to a cloud application, there is no magical invincibility cloak surrounding my data. The service can be hacked, suffer from espionage, have a server fail, go out of business, and so on. Additionally, while the raw data may be mine, the formatted data that the service uses to provide its output is owned by the service itself. I may have my own personal copies of the picture and text, even the printed album in my hands, but the data to generate the album, calendar or greeting card I purchase is not transferable to another service. I cannot, in most cases, get the output of the first service in a generic, openly transferable bit of data to use in another service. In this sense, I do not own all the data that I may have purchased.

This is a common open source argument with proprietary data formats. If I do not have a copy of Wiget’s WordSmithe 1.0, I may not be able to read a document written with that tool. Cloud computing does not make this any less true and carries the additional risk of possessing the raw data to boot.

I will keep my data on my own storage and backup systems. I will even continue to use services like Shutterfly. I will always do so with a bit of caution in mind, asking myself, “if this service is gone in a year, how will I reproduce my work”?

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It’s a Pirate Ship! Damn the Rules!

by Terry 10/8/2009 12:24:00 PM

State's 'Pirates' ship too dirty for Calif.

“Washington's official state ship, the venerable Lady Washington, is no longer welcome in California.

The 112-foot square-rigger, perhaps best-known as the ship hijacked by Jack Sparrow in the Disney film "Pirates of the Caribbean," normally spends its winters in California waters. Last winter, it hosted more than 70,000 visitors and took more than 7,000 California school kids sailing from California ports.

But not this year.”

The ship is banned because it uses an old engine.

Would not a better alternative be to use processed cooking oil? Consider, a local law is changing the use and public access to a ship with some educational and public value in service for years. The change is forcing a non-government sponsored program to incur $100,000 of refit expenses, putting the program at risk.

I call this a symptom of unintended consequences. I would prefer to have rules imposed which only apply to new ships instead of forcing costly retrofitting. What are the costs of this required retrofit? It goes beyond the cost of replacing an engine. It includes the energy to produce a new engine, dispose of the old engine, transportation, and so on.

I could see a simple possible ‘eco-friendly’ work-around. Why not require the vessel use a bio-diesel alternative? I suppose the argument is that the emissions are unsavory with the current engine. How about the cannons? Are these emissions regulated too?

Damn the rules! It is a Pirate Ship! Who’s to say nay to their coastal passage!

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A silly article to make you feel guilty

by Terry 9/2/2009 3:02:00 PM

I must be feeling snippy. I cannot resist taking this silly article apart.

Apparently, as this article (from Fox news of all places) implies, if you don’t move with the Chosen One, whose advisor says is “not an asshole”, than you must be an asshole. I say ‘Chosen One’ because of the attitude in the article and the advisor mentioned in the article. To imply that the leader of the nation is infallible is silly. To claim that argument or dissent from his view is stonewalling is equally silly. Politics are about dissident and compromise. Specifically, government is a generalized embodiment of the will of the people, and politics are the tools people use to influence this embodiment. As much as I don’t like a political ass, does not mean the ass is wrong.

Personally, I think being an asshole is a required personal trait for any politician. By definition, a politican is going to offend someone, probably a significant minority of people, in even the best of times. I am trying to see what is even newsworthy in this article. It serves no value than to say you should feel bad about yourself if you disagree with the ideas of the most powerful non-asshole on Earth. That is B.S.

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Women rule the universe and allow men the illusion of control

by Terry 5/7/2009 4:28:00 PM

I finally have decided to self-publish my fist work. Okay, I have to admit, it is not much. In fact, it is only one line. Here it is:

“Women rule the universe and allow men the illusion of control.” – Terry Losansky

I have been saying this for at least 20 years. I cannot recall what prompted it, but I have never found reason to change it. What I have found generally amusing is no one to date has ever disputed the conjecture.

Anyway, I decided that the idea was too compelling to keep to myself. I have decided to share it with the world. You too can now own this bit of wisdom. Visit my Café Press (http://www.cafepress.com/TipsUI) shop for you own mug. I think I will create a hat and tee-shirt too in the near future.

The subtlety in my conjecture is in the second clause where women “allow men the illusion of control”. Many people have stated in various ways that, ‘women rule’. I.e. “women rule, boys drool” is a common phrase. My daughter has a plaque in her room saying such. The key is the illusion women bestow on men. We men smugly believe we have some control of the world around us. Women have no such illusion, nor do women posses this control. They rule, but do not control. Men do not rule, but believe they control. It is a fine balance. It requires exploration of thought….

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“If I can get one kid to say, ‘ooo, science is cool,’ my job is done.”

by Terry 4/2/2009 3:17:00 PM

See the article:

Cascade View students enjoy fun-filled night

I got more press than I had hoped, and the quote expressed exactly my thoughts, considering all the activity and distraction, I am happy it came out as clearly as it did. I will need to figure out how to follow up on it.

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Take a Sock Day

by Terry 2/2/2009 9:23:00 AM

Apparently February 2nd is Take a Sock Day. I received an email this morning from a coworker saying she was out of the office – taking a sock day. This explains the abundance of missing socks and mismatched pairs.

In high school a friend of mine postulated washing machines, or their evil cousins clothes dryers, were secret portals to a dimension he simply referred to as Lost. Socks would only go missing when processed through the laundry, but never go missing when anyone was looking. Naturally this cannot be fully falsified and therefore proves the existence of a higher power. The ID folks should rejoice in the miracle of the missing sock.

I personally think the notion of Take a Sock Day is far more plausible. An entire day dedicated to absconding with knitted foot coverings.

Another coworker points out the real question is, “What happens when the Ground Hog sees a mismatched pair of socks?”

Obviously, he requires six weeks more sleep before returning it.

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Of course I could be reading this statement the wrong way.

by Terry 10/16/2008 5:15:00 PM

Of course I could be reading this statement the wrong way.

http://www.barackobama.com/taxes/
“Obama will ask the wealthiest 2% of families to give back a portion of the tax cuts they have received over the past eight years to ensure we are restoring fairness and returning to fiscal responsibility.”

It could be interpreted as Obama will ask Congress to repeal tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest 2% of the population because he feels that would be the right thing to do. That would be an honest statement and might actually imply what is meant. How it reads now is Obama will ask the rich to pay more tax on prior-year’s incomes.

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Election 2008 Comments on Taxes

by Terry 10/16/2008 10:57:00 AM

Normally I keep my political views to myself, except in general comments amongst my friends. Not because I have no opinion, but because I prefer to not say anything unless I have something to add to the discussion. I suppose I have something to say today.

Obama’s tax plan is illogical, and in some ways is a plan for legalized theft.

http://www.barackobama.com/taxes/
“Obama will ask the wealthiest 2% of families to give back a portion of the tax cuts they have received over the past eight years to ensure we are restoring fairness and returning to fiscal responsibility.”

Taken on its word, this is retroactive punishment for doing well. We, The Government, did not believe we needed you to pay certain taxes over the last eight years. Now, please, give that money back because it is fair to the poor people who did not earn more money this year.

I find the statement, “give back” interesting. It implies that a group of wealthy people first ‘gave’ money to the government, and then colluded in some way to take it back from the government. Personally I feel the prior taxes paid are a done deal. That contract was signed and delivered. Changing that agreement retroactively is a contractual violation. It is the same as if I intentionally, fraudulently, file a tax amendment on my taxes from four years ago and claim I overpaid and it would only be fair to compensate me now because I need the money.

On tax cuts, Obama’s plan also is flawed.

http://www.barackobama.com/taxes
“Obama’s Comprehensive Tax Policy Plan for America will: Cut taxes for 95 percent of workers and their families with a tax cut of $500 for workers or $1,000 for working couples.”

In 2006, the IRS statistics, http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/article/0,,id=96978,00.html, show approximately 33% of the population filing non-taxable returns. That is, about 33% of the people don’t pay taxes. No matter which way you skew the 95% of the people (Let’s assume it is excluding the 5% of the wealthiest, but even if it is not the problems are the same), there are about 31% of those people who pay no tax. A tax cut of $500-$1000 is either not possible, a lie, a false promise or a cash payment for the poor. It is a promise that can never be met honestly. It would likely die in the House anyway.

John McCain at least strikes me as having an honest, achievable tax position.

http://www.johnmccain.com/Issues/JobsforAmerica/taxes.htm
“John McCain will keep the top tax rate at 35 percent, maintain the 15 percent rates on dividends and capital gains, and phase-out the Alternative Minimum Tax. Small businesses are the heart of job growth; raising taxes on them hurts every worker.”

Phasing out the Alternative Minimum Tax would likely cause 1%-3% of the 33% of the people who pay no tax now to pay a few dollars. By few I mean amount $100-$200 per year. It is raising the tax for a very few people, but only those already on the border of paying something or nothing.

McCain’s policy to credit business for Research and Development expenses and lowering the corporate tax rate would potentially raise the investment in new technology and create jobs. Both would increase the tax base. New technology equates to new and better products and competitiveness. A general tax cut for business would allow reinvestment in business which would creates jobs.

My Stance

Personally, I don’t really care for McCain or Obama. It seems no politician will stand for the things I really want; State autonomy (closer to the original construction of the United States), fewer Federal programs, protection of our borders (economic and physical) and investment in technology, to name a few. Maybe I will write in John Adams – Damn. He’s dead.

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The market sees new lows

by Terry 10/9/2008 4:54:00 PM

The market sees new lows. While I have opinions on what should be done and why we are in this mess, I can add little to the discussion. Jerry Pournelle retains his remarkable capacity to distill the issues into meaningful commentary and context. But, like many people, deciding what to do is difficult and may be the bigger issue at this point, or will soon be with the passage of time.

Karen and I have been saving away for Kaitlin’s college and future needs. We have been doing this since we knew we were going to be parents. Our investments for Kaitlin have held remarkably well and will likely recover sooner than later. We have cash funds that we had been building and were considering diversifying. It looks like, for Kaitlin at any rate, we will be able to make some strategic investments for her which will serve her well in ten or more years. Kaitlin is young enough that whatever happens she will survive with a chance for a good start as an adult. She will be old enough to remember, I hope, the lessons this periods will teach the next generation.

For Karen and me, we have two or three decades before we consider retirement. Provided our retirement investments we have do not vanish altogether in the next year or two, we will weather well enough. Being a single income family, our biggest risk is losing my job. Unless I am completely out of touch with my employer, I should have ample warning of any layoff. In the meantime, I can only prepare for the worst. We will try to increase savings even more, cut unneeded expenses and so on. I will plan for the worst and hope for the best. There are many forms of insurance one can have in hard times.

It may not appear so at first, but my garage chemistry lab is a kind of insurance. More than just having the tools and materials to make useful mixtures, it is a tiny bastion of knowledge to share with others, like my daughter or kids I recruit into a science club.

When I was about 12 years old I read Lucifer's Hammer. Among the many things that stuck with me after reading the book were references on harvesting insulin from sheep. Ever since, I have collected books on the history and science of these and other cures critical to modern survival and success. It is unlikely I will ever need them, but I will have them. If you can survive Lucifer’s Hammer, you can likely do well in any situation. In the very least it has given me an interesting library. There are many forms of insurance indeed.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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