Friday, June 23, 2006

I am Registered

I recently became Registered -- I am Linux Regsitered User No. 418894. This is an important statement on my support for Open Source and GNU/Linux.

But today I also became registered in a different area. As of 2 PM today I registered to be a bone marrow donor. It is a very easy process. Most of the time is spent filling some basic paperwork -- it took all of five minutes or so. Then you provide four simple samples of your saliva, seal the samples and you are done. Hopefully one day I will be able to help someone survive a fatal disease. Please consider registering for such a worthy cause! Visit the National Bone Marrow Donor Program website or call 1-800 MARROW-2 to find out when and where a screening is available near you. It only takes a few miinutes of your time -- it may save a child's life!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Free bracelet kit helps fight cancer

Go to the link below and order a free bracelet kit; it costs you nothing, but for every one that is ordered, Merck Pharmaceuticals donates $1 for cervical cancer education and screening. It only takes a minute - the link sends you right to the Merck website.

It would be great to get Merck to donate the "up to $100,000" they have agreed to!

On standards and spyware

Last week I began hearing about the introduction of pre-802.11n equipment in the marketplace. Some manufacturers are offering devices that comply with the draft of this wireless standard. Unfortunately, the draft is not a sure bet for approval and anyone buying these devices may end up with unusable equipment in their hands. Standards are supposed to be adhered to after they are approved. However, some manufacturers are pushing for this new standard even if it's questionable. Dell will be shipping laptops with pre-802-11n Wi-Fi adaptors although they may be incompatible with 802.11g networks. That tells me that Dell (and others) will force the approval of 802.11n regardless of existing problems. They may "force" consumers to buy newer technology simply to stay compatible with their equipment. This is objectionable behavior in the part of Dell and others; they have disregarded due process and forced the adoption of a potentially-incompatible standard.

In other technology-related matters, Windows XP was reported to be "calling Redmond" everyday. Many of us consider this a form of spyware from Microsoft. What do you think? Could this be another reason to switch to Linux?

The meaning of life

A friend of mine sent this to me in an email. I had seen it before and found it very funny. I hope you do too!

On the first day, God created the dog and said: "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."

The dog said: "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"

So God agreed.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said: "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."

The monkey said: "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?"

And God agreed.

On the third day, God created the cow and said: "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."

The cow said: "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"

And God agreed again.

On the fourth day, God created man and said: "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."

But man said: "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"

"Okay," said God, "You asked for it."

So that is why the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Patriot Act Protest and More

We are beginning to see some public reactions to the effects of the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II laws that went into effect as a consequence of the 9/11 events. Four librarians have challenged the U.S. government's actions under the Act. I applaud their courage for standing up to what is clearly a branch of government that has been given a waiver in the checks-and-balances system that was wisely implemented by the founders of this nation and that served us well for centuries. The FUD strategy used by the current administration will end one day and history will show whether the Patriot Act was a wise choice. I believe it was not.

After reading these thoughts (published elsewhere), a friend of mine sent the following commentary:

Whenever I read more “sky is falling” fears of the Patriot Act, I cannot decide whether to laugh or cry. Today, in California, they have adopted the “Anonymous 911 Drunk Driver” laws. Is there anyone you don’t like? An ex-spouse? Somebody owes you money? Annoying neighbor? Make the 911 Drunk Driver call, and the local police can enter their home without a warrant, take the suspect away in handcuffs to the testing facility. Of course, they also have the “in plain sight” laws, and once inside the house, anything is fair game. Care to have them inside looking around? Where’s this mythical “checks and balances”?

Of course, your name is kept confidential, so the poor schmuck never even knows who made the call, and unlike the Constitutional guarantees, he will never get a chance to face his accuser.

Where's the ACLU?

The DEA can also enter your house without a warrant, seize your personal property, computers, records, all cars, even the house! You need to prove innocence before recovering anything, which can and does take months. These drug laws are considered the single most dangerous invasion of privacy and individual rights on record. There are countless cases on record. Where’s the NYT’s and the ACLU? Where’s the outrage?

Many law agencies are now expanding the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), to tap your phones on a whim. No warrant.

The 1966 Lautenberg Gun Ban is so expansive and vague that almost any misdemeanor will prevent gun ownership. But that’s not enough for Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) who has launched her most recent effort to use Orwellian Big Government with her Bill HR 1415 -- the McCarthy bill -- would require states to "make electronically available to the Attorney General records relevant to a determination of whether a person is disqualified from possessing or receiving a firearm under [federal law" [Section 102(c)(1) (A)].

Now, God forbid this passes, but if it does, how does the gov’t obtain such records? Simple. The bill assigns millions to the FBI to troll through our income tax and phone records, internet use, military records, medical history, divorce records, police arrests, and yes, even library records, to examine whether retroactively you might have performed “something of a violent nature” that would preclude you from gun ownership. Something decades ago. Okay, you are anti-gun anyway, but what do you suppose the gov’t does with all those records? Throw them away? Yeah, right.

This is just another tactic for the gov’t to acquire citizen databases, triggering the end of personal privacy. Ever signed that box on a doctor or hospital form about sharing information? If so, you gave permission for any agency to obtain any record they want, without a warrant and without you even knowing.

While you are looking out the front door, worried about the gov’t checking library records, a dozen federal, state, and local agencies can already enter your back door, take your history, computers, phones and records, and then confiscate everything in site, and haul you away. All very legal, and without warrants.

Patriot Act? Sheesh..

After I asked permission to use these comments, I received a follow up:

Use it anywhere you like. I am certainly not hiding my opinions. Or my name.

Thanks for the comments. I know we disagree on this subject, but I truly believe the PA is about 1/100 of the privacy invasions we unknowingly encounter every minute of the day.

As a hard core Libertarian myself [except for some of their loony platforms] I am firmly against government intervention and interference, and a very strong supporter of civil rights and the Constitution.

But the PA is a straw dog, an easy target of the media hype. If we think that neutering the PA will somehow restore privacy, well, there are several bridges we can still buy. How about waterfront property in Florida?

Meanwhile, the government continually chips away at our rights and we don't even know it.