Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Car Theft, Next Rape?

In a multi jurisdictional advertising campaign in metro Washington, DC by local and state police departments, the police are attacking the growing problem of auto theft by saying that car owners who do not do more with locks and alarms are the problem, not the thieves themselves.

The ad is crafted to make the listener sympathetic with the thief, and sends the message that the car owner was "asking for it" and that the car owner is the one to blame for the theft. The car owner is berated and insulted in the ad.

Maybe the police should use this this tactic to handle rape cases. The police could run radio advertising about how it is not the rapist, but the women who are the perpetrators of this crime because they have "asked for it" by their actions.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Virginia Scratchers (Lottery)

There are several state lotteries around, but an interesting advertising campaign comes from the Virginia State Lottery.

In the radio commercial a woman buys her son a number of "scratcher" cards. It turns out the young man does not make enough money to pay rent or own a car. The man is encouraged, by his Mom an Dad no less, to use the scratchers in the hopes he can make enough money from them to pay the rent.

Is this really the message the State of Virginia wants to send out? To tell people to buy lottery tickets to earn money to pay bills?

The lottery has been said to be a tax on those who can not do math. For me, there is no fun in playing the lottery. I'll accept that if someone has the extra money to waste, and they wish to waste it on the lottery, then they should do that. But I question state funds being used to advertise that playing the lottery is a way to earn a living.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Congress Thanksgiving

Many say that congress has important unfinished business as they adjourn and go home for the holidays. Congress just left to start their two weeks off for Thanksgiving holidays. Afterwards they can come back and get to work. At least until the Christmas recess starts.

Congress gets two weeks off for Thanksgiving. How many days did your employer give you off?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Barry Bonds and Martha Stewart

The government arrested Barry Bonds on charges, and he potentially faces 30 years in prison. The case centers around his use of drugs, but that is not what he is arrested for. Instead of being accused of using drugs, he is accused to not telling the truth.

This is I suppose much like the case of Martha Stewart. She was not convicted of insider trader. She was convicted of lying about her trading activities.

I find this trend of prosecutors to be disturbing. If Barry Bonds committed a "real" crime, and there is a need to punish him, then I think they should pursue the underlying crime, not the lying about the crime. If there is no underlying crime, then how can he be convicted of lying about the crime?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say that perjury should not be a crime. It is a crime and should be a crime. What I am suggesting is that if a prosecutor cannot get enough evidence to substantiate that the crime occurred and he can't prosecute the actual underlying crime, then he should not use a secondary offense of perjury to attack the same suspect.

Friday, September 14, 2007

September 11th

I had a Friend of mine who does not get out much ask me if there would be activities concerning the 9-11 events of past. I replied that I was sure that people would hold vigils, visit memorials, make speeches, and otherwise give power to the terrorists.

In other countries where terrorism is a regular occurrence, if a bus is bombed, another bus picks up passengers at the same stop the next day. If a store is blown up, it is rebuilt and sells it's wares again. In contrast, here when a building in New York was destroyed, we leveled the ground and put up a memorial to the might of the terrorists.

By January, three months later, more people had died on our highways than in all of the 9-11 events. Did we as a nation give them a second glance? No. But we are still showing the terrorists how they shook us, even though years have passed.

A few, a very few letters with Anthrax were found and the mail system was practically shut down and then reworked in Washington, DC. In the same year thousands died from the flu, but did it make top news week after week?

Giving 9-11 attention empowers the terrorists. Changing our way of life empowers the terrorists. The way to defeat the terrorists is to just go on and continue life as if nothing happened.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Candy Guns

A five year old was suspended for bringing a candy filled water gun to school in Prince George's county Maryland. The school has a policy against students bringing to school weapons, instruments that can be used as weapons or instruments that look like weapons. The school argues that the candy dispenser looked like a weapon.

I have to wonder if the person handling the suspension is purely administrative, or if they are also responsible within the school system for helping form young minds and aid them in making judgements. This did not look like a gun, this looked like a toy filled with candy.

If this person involved in processing the suspension is a teacher I think they should be removed for incompetence. If the teacher cannot tell the difference between a brightly colored candy dispenser and a real weapon then they have no business helping to shape young minds.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Waxman P2P Reforms Favor Terrorists

Rep. Waxman (D) has publicly announced that he thinks that P2P software is a threat to National Security. He seems to base this on the idea that P2P software, like Limewire, can globally share files stored on a computer and make them available to anyone anywhere in the world.

Interestingly enough, Waxman does not fault government agencies for storing classified documents on computers with shared drives, nor does he blame the problem on government employees who either do not understand security polices or do not follow them. Frankly, Waxman appears to be totally clueless concerning P2P technology.

Terrorists worldwide have nothing to fear as long as men like Waxman stand up and do the useless while completely avoiding the necessary.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Minimum wage increase

I've concluded I like McDonald's breakfast over Burger King. I like eating with a knife and fork rather than only having a sandwich, and I prefer the McDonald's taste. I'd rather have my meal in a regular restaurant, but McDonald's is about half the price. To be blunt, I enjoy riding the backs of those who make minimum wage.

I don't make minimum wage. I haven't for decades. I often interact with this odd group of people. As of late, they seem to look at me strangely as if I am demented. I feel tempted to remind them I am not the one making minimum wage.

Today my breakfast was $4.89 with tax, beverage, and pancakes added on. Having grown up when minimum wage was in the two dollar range, I learned to make change working at McDonald's before the advent of the electronic cash register. I handed the cashier a five dollar bill, a dime, and four pennies which made her look at the change in an odd way, then look at me in an even odder fashion. Obviously she felt I was demented, possibly dropped on my head when I was younger. Entering the cash received into her keyboard the register then spit out two dimes and a nickle which the cashier handed to me saying "It was $4.89". Somehow she felt she had to admonish me for having not known how to give her the correct change in the first place.

I replied saying, "Yes, I know. I was anticipating a quarter in return." Somehow she caught on and took the two dimes and a nickle back and gave me a quarter.

News reports this morning indicate that for many people today's minimum wage hike is the first raise they have had in ten years. I don't have sympathy for them. I don't believe in minimum wage's purpose to be to provide a living wage for people. If they want more money then they should learn to do something more than minimum work and they will move up to more than minimum wage.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Geneva Convention defied

I enjoyed watching Hogan's Heroes, a TV show about a group of prisoners in a Nazi prison camp during WWII. The prisoners lived a hard life in substandard conditions, but the Nazis treated them fairly. They received Red Cross packages, mail, and Colonel Hogan was given respect from Shultz and Klink under the rules of the Geneva convention.

This was not reality TV, it was a comedy on a set. Is the US implementation of the Geneva Convention in current times a reality show, or is it a comedy of errors?

Bush has repeatedly made the claim that the enemy combatants detained are not eligible for the rights of the Geneva Convention. This shows a lack of respect for the soldiers of the US Army. We certainly want our soldiers to be treated well if captured. I'm convinced the American soldiers themselves want to have the Geneva convention applied to them.

If we ignore international law, or for that matter, international ethics, just what freedom are we fighting for?

Today Bush published documents to give US polices a veneer of alignment with prisoner treatment policies the Supreme Court has required. Still human rights groups are not convinced that Bush is in the right place here. And still Bush is saying he will not allow visits by the Red Cross, even sham visits like on Hogan's Heroes. Nor will he allow the detainees to contact their families.

Maybe for an encore Bush can kill off all of the Indians and take their land.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

FEMA on the wrong mission

For years now I have been hearing about problems with FEMA trailers, for the last few months about the formaldehyde problems causing the inhabitants to be sick.

Original reports indicated that the trailers just could not be manufactured fast enough, so the vendor ordered more supplies and bought raw materials that were not fit for the purpose due to formaldehyde content.

Various reports show that FEMA avoided testing. More reports show they did some testing but tried to skew the results by airing out the trailers first. The most alarming is that internally FEMA lawyers suggested to not test because that might increase liability for the problem if it could be shown that FEMA had hard evidence that the problem existed.

That shows an indifference that is amazing, unethical, and criminal. Had this been a large company, say General Motors, we might expect to hear lawyers and actuaries suggesting that it is more profitable to ignore the problem and deal with the lawsuits, if any, later. We might not like it, but we might expect it. But isn't FEMA responsible for helping people out in a disaster? Instead it sounds like they are trying to do a risk assessment to decide how to keep their liability lower, not to help the public with the liabilities they are facing.

If this was a junior attorney who made this comment he should be disciplined. If it was a senior attorney, he should be fired and perhaps disbarred. This is an outrage.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Voters want Bush Impeached

A recent poll of 1,200 likely primary voters shows that 45% want Bush impeached.

This breaks down to 69% of the Democrats, 13% of the Republicans, and 50% of the Independents that were polled.

I view this as bad that the public would like to see two presidents in a row impeached. First Clinton, now Bush. On the other hand, Bush is responsible for remarkable abuses of Constitutional power.

Maybe impeachment would serve Bush right, who would blame the voters? When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Copenhagen Interpretation

According the Copenhagen Interpretation, the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics predictions cannot be explained in terms of some other deterministic theory, and does not simply reflect our limited knowledge. Quantum mechanics provides probabilistic results because the physical universe is itself probabilistic rather than deterministic.

Put another way, a system stops being a superposition of states and becomes either one or the other when an observation takes place. Some interpret the Schrödinger's Cat experiment to mean that while the box is closed, the system simultaneously exists in a superposition of the states "decayed nucleus/dead cat" and "undecayed nucleus/living cat", and that only when the box is opened and an observation performed does the wave function collapse into one of the two states.

In essence, the cat is alive until you open the box. Once you open the box, it is this act of observation that kills the cat.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Quantum Mechanics

Quantum mechanics is, at least at first glance and at least in part, a mathematical machine for predicting the behaviors of microscopic particles. The effects of quantum mechanics are typically not observable on macroscopic scales, but become evident at the atomic and subatomic level.

The word "quantum" suggests that discrete changes in state occur, shifting even from one extreme to the next, rather than slowly changing in an infinitely variable process. Of interest are the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, and Schrödinger's Cat.

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle suggests we cannot tell what is, only what was. This is because the very act of observation changes reality.

Schrödinger's Cat is a paradoxical thought experiment in which a cat is imprisoned in a contrived cage. Apparatus in the cage, based on decay of atomic particles, may or may not have killed the cat. Looking in the box may, or may not kill the cat as well. The cat exists in a mixture of states, both dead and alive. At what point does the cat stop existing as a mixture of states and become one or the other?

Ergo, Observation Affects Outcomes. Well, for that matter, Observation Effects Outcomes.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My Quantum Life

I created this blog so I can post things I observe. Many of them are of interest to me, but I have no idea why they are of interest to others. While I am at it, I will stick any junk posts I make for profit on here to. I don't want to corrupt my other blogs or websites.