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Wednesday, January 22nd, 2003

I hate 'business dress'. I'm lucky enough that I only have to wear the sub-category, 'casual business dress'. Regardless, these clothes fail to be comfortable during the bulk of the year. In the summer, they are too hot, and now, in the midst of a particularly mean January cold-snap here in Pittsburgh PA, the clothes are totally inadequate. The wind freezes my legs through the thin cotton.
I dislike uniforms, and I dislike uncomfortable uniforms even more.

Who decided what clothes make a person 'professional'? I've known many well dressed business people who where completely unprofessional. Silly me, I've always figured that it is a persons demeanor that determines if they are professional. How would a tie make me my work better?

Perhaps if my clothes actually made my job easier I wouldn't mind them so much - perhaps a special pocket for my consultant double-speak handbook? (How is that for a new paradigm?)

It is probably the bitter cold that bites my skin when I go outside in these clothes that is making me cranky.

Monday, January 20th, 2003

Today American's celebrate the life and efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Legislation for a national holiday for Dr. King was introduced 4 days after his death in 1968, it wasn't until 1983 that the national holiday was signed into law.

Dr. King fought bigotry, hatred, and ignorance in his efforts to fulfill the promise of this country. His work led directly to the end of legal segregation in schools, improved voting rights, and the illegality of job discrimination. Dr. King was jailed, spied upon by the FBI, and ultimately assassinated (at the age of 39) for his peaceful endeavors to bring liberty to all people.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
But Dr. King also experienced some recognition in his day when he became the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent civil rights efforts.

Dr. King's peaceful legacy lives on today. As a nation, and humanity as a whole, we still have a very, very long ways to go to create equality, but without a doubt Dr. King made great progress in the advancement of civil and human rights, and for this, we should forever be a grateful nation.

Learn more about Dr. King at the King Center.

"Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will."

-From "Letter from Birmingham Jail," April 16, 1963
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."

-Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, Dec. 10, 1964
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, January 15th, 2003

I spent much of last night playing my new Spiderman game on my equally new Playstation 2.

So far the game is excellent, and goes some ways to fulfilling my webslining, wall crawling fantasies.

The game takes place in great cityscapes, dark warehouses, while you, as Spiderman fight villains from thugs to super criminals - all rendered in 3 dimensions.

As I recall the thrills of the original Pong, and Space Invaders and compare those games to the current batch; I'm left with great expectations for changes in gaming that I'll see in the next 20 years.

I don't think that (near) photo realistic real-time video game graphics are that far away. I'm salivating already.

Friday, January 10th, 2003

For work today I had to meet someone at a Starbucks.
I was early so I decided to get a small Apple Cider with Carmel, and a cinnamon roll.
These two small items cost me $4.44. (Keep in mind that one can buy a half of a gallon of cider and a pack of cinnamon rolls for that much.)

Consuming these two items resulted in the following pile of trash:

1 cup
1 insulating cup holder (fortunately made of 60% recycled material)
2 napkins
1 small bag
1 wax paper

If I'd gotten a coffee instead of cider the trash pile would also have included:
2 sugar wrappers
1 plastic stir

I should note that all of this packaging and trash was for one person, on one occasion, in one Starbucks. (There are over 5,000 Starbucks worldwide).

Thursday, January 9th, 2003

I've never been obsessed with cars, I don't see my car as an extension of my personality, or 'lifestyle'. However, not too many years ago I did want an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle), after all, they are 'neat' to look at, and I fancy myself the type of person who would drive an SUV full of camping, and rock climbing gear into the back country.
But the desire to own an SUV is now dead and withering. In fact, I find SUVs to be, by-and-large, pretty despicable.

Commercials depict rugged out-doorsy types careening through the wilds in their four wheel drive SUVs in search of adventure, or in service of the environment. (One recent commercial shows the rescue of a seal pup from encroaching ice by an SUV driver.)

The reality is that most of these SUVs are driven my oblivious cell-phone chatting yuppies, and soccer moms who will never drive their behemoths onto a dirt road, let alone four-wheel into the back country.

... Okay, I'd admit that is a bit of hyperbole, but a casual inspection of the average SUV will typically reveal one person (and not the family units depicted on TV) driving these gas guzzlers to their local strip mall. (Only 5% of SUVs are taken off road.)

Take the anicdote to the marketing hype by learning about some of the impact our SUVs make at SUV.org and iDontCareAboutAir.com.

Monday, January 6th, 2003

While much of our mass-media courses with vapid sensationalism, our government is in the process of instituting a framework of invasiveness that would make George Orwell weep.

The Department of Defense's DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is formulating a program called the Total Information Awareness (TIA) Program.
The TIA will be a one-stop computerized database including information about every American ranging from medical and financial records, travel history, phone, email and Web logs and a wealth of other personal information including political, personal and family associations among others.

Wrote New York Times columnist William Safire: “To [the] computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you -- passport application, driver’s license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the FBI, your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance -- and you have the supersnoop’s dream: a ‘Total Information Awareness’ about every U.S. citizen.”

TIA and other government data-mining programs like the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II (CAPPS II) are terrible invasions of the public's privacy and are contrary to the concepts of liberty and civil rights.
If permitted to continue, these programs will usher in an age of ubiquitous surveillance accepted because of their "passive" nature.

The TIA will further separates the government's accountability to the people. According to the constitution, the government can't search our houses without a search warrant (another endangered right incidentally), but it can now review every bit of data about its citizens - all in secrecy.

If we are to be free, than we can never be completely safe. In fact, even if we forfeit are rights we will still never be completely safe - there simply is no such thing. We are at risk of losing our freedoms in the false pursuit of illusory safety.

The TIA program resides in the Pentagon’s Information Awareness Office. The offices motto? "Knowledge is Power". - You'd better believe it.

Learn more about the TIA program and its danger from the ACLU Website.

The government Website pertaining to the TIA program can be found here.
(It is interesting to note that after recent bad publicity the biographies of the program participants were removed along with an insidious logo of an eyeball scanning the world.)

"We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny. The most alarming spectacle today is not the spectacle of the atomic bomb in an unfederated world, it is the spectacle of the Americans beginning to accept the device of loyalty oaths and witchhunts, beginning to call anybody they don't like a Communist."

- E.B. White

(Editor's note: Regarding the E.B. White's quote, mentally replace 'communist' with the villainous group du jour.)

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the rights of the people by the gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

- James Madison

"Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purpose is beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."

- Louis Dembitz Brandeis

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