Election. Yeah, right!

This Google blog post titled “A voice for everyone in 2016” made me chuckle:

Every election matters and every vote counts. The American democracy relies on everyone’s participation in the political process. This November, Americans all across the country will line up at the polls to cast their ballots for the President of the United States.

It sounds like a true effort to make things better and enhance democracy and what not.  But in practice, is it really an election? One by one, the candidates are falling of the ballot.  Day by day it becomes more obvious that Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the USA.

The more tools and technologies we have to enhance our lives, the worst the content on which we can apply those tools becomes.  The better the home cinemas became, the worse the movies got.  The better audio systems we have, the worse the music gets.  And politics just follow the same trend, unfortunately.

National Cancer Institute on Cannabis and Cannabinoids

National Cancer Institute has an interesting update on cannabis … Basically, marijuana is not yet universally approved as a medical treatment for cancer (only in a few states for now), but quite a few large studies suggest that not only it’s not harmful, but quite helpful for both cancer treatment and post-treatment relief.

usa

I think this is a good step in the direction of “the world is not black and white”.  We’ve been tagging everything as just good or bad for way too long.  It’s time to start looking at benefits and side effects in a bit more detail.

TrumpDonald.org

 

trumpdonald.org

Since the dawn of times, porn websites used to be at the tip of the spear for all the web development technology.  They were the first ones to use cookies, forms, online payments, streaming video, browser fingerprinting, responsive design and more.  It’s good to see that political activism is trying to catch up. Enjoy TrumpDonald.org!

America is full of high-earning poor people

poor rich

America is full of high-earning poor people” is an interesting article, with lots of charts and statistics, on how poor even high earning households are in America.  The problem is, of course, not unique to the United States.

The fact that the average upper-middle-class household has just $12,200 in non-pension financial wealth is disturbing. Even worse, within that group, about 25% of the higher earning population had only $3,200 in 2013. It’s no wonder one quarter of all American households couldn’t come up with $2,000 if they faced an emergency—it’s not just low earners.

Celebrating Columbus Day …

Just in time for the celebration of the Columbus Day in the USA, kottke.org links to a few sources (one, two, three) that suggest that the guy was not worthy:

Population figures from 500 years ago are necessarily imprecise, but Bergreen estimates that there were about 300,000 inhabitants of Hispaniola in 1492. Between 1494 and 1496, 100,000 died, half due to mass suicide. In 1508, the population was down to 60,000. By 1548, it was estimated to be only 500.

Understandably, some natives fled to the mountains to avoid the Spanish troops, only to have dogs set upon them by Columbus’s men. (Bergreen, 205)

10 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True

10 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out To Be True – some I’ve heard about before, some are new to me.  I’ll keep the list here for further reading and research.

  1. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident
  2. Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
  3. Project MKUltra
  4. Operation Northwoods
  5. CIA Drug Trafficking
  6. Operation Mockingbird
  7. COINTELPRO
  8. Operation Snow White
  9. Secret Global Economic Policies
  10. The US Government Illegally Spies On Its Own Citizens

Citizenfour

citizenfour

It’s been a long while (almost two years in fact), since I posted a movie review.  It’s not that I haven’t seen any good movies in this period, but more of the fact that I tend to sound repetitive when I write these.  Watch that, this one is awesome, etc.

Last night I’ve watched “Citizenfour“, and I have to say I’m shaken by that documentary.   And I’m not a privacy or security freak, and I was somewhat familiar with Edward Snowden’s story.  This film, while portraying his personality, is not so much about him, as it is about the state of affairs.

As a non-US citizen, I have very little interest in what the US government is doing.  I don’t particularly care if someone is recording my Internet traffic, Google searches, or the phone calls I make.  I’m not worried about ending up “on the list”, or anything like that.

But not everyone is like that.  I do understand how government surveillance can be used, how data can be analyzed, and how pressure can be applied.  And I do share the point of view that the balance of power between the government and the people is way off (and not only in the US), and that we are beyond the point of any meaningful individual resistance.  It’s just that I don’t do anything about it, and Edward Snowden did.

For me personally, quite a few things were new in this film.  It was interesting to learn about the variety of NSA and CIA programs, the depth of their rich, and the technology that is in place already.  Some of it does sound like science fiction future, but is in fact very possible.   The stuff about security access in the NSA, drone video feeds, data gathering, analysis and search, with real time notifications, etc – all that was insightful.

The other side to the movie that I found interesting was the whole process that was used to expose these documents.  There is in fact no framework as to how such things can be done, what should and shouldn’t be published, how things can be verified, etc.  The move to remove his own bias and pass on the responsibility onto the journalists was interesting.

Overall, I think that the more people see this movie, the better.  The issues raised are very important and we should know about them.  It doesn’t only affect criminals or terrorists or Americans.  It affects everyone.  In particular everyone who has a phone, or a computer with an Internet connection, or a credit card.  After all, there are 1,200,000 people on the US watch lists, and from what I understand, this list is growing fast.

 

The Secrets of the FBI by Ronald Kessler

secrets_of_the_fbi

The Secrets of the FBI” is the second audio book by Ronald Kessler that I’ve listened to.  I enjoyed it much more than “In the President’s Secret Service“.  This one covers the history of the FBI in much more detail, and provides both insider’s perspective and a bird’s eye view of how the FBI was created, evolved and got the where it is now.

One thing that I found very interesting was how much an impact each of the directors had on the development of the FBI, and how different these were.   Also, descriptions of technology evolution in the FBI were particularly interesting to me.  The state of the computeres by the 9/11 was especially depressing.  I nearly couldn’t believe what I was hearing…

Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in law enforcement history, government projects, and special tactical units.