Where I live, at the 46th Parallel in Michigan, the sun rose this morning at 5:44. It will set at 9:29 tonight. We will have close to 16 hours of daylight today. It’s the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, and up here, where we endure long dark winters, this is a day to celebrate.
Tomorrow our day will shorten by 12 seconds, which means little by little the daylight hours will dwindle, until December 21, when we’ll be able to see clearly without artificial aids for only about eight hours. The sun won’t rise until 8:09 AM on the day of the Winter Solstice and will be setting at 4:55 PM. So up here the longest day of the year is a big deal. [Read more]
It warmed my heart, just a little bit, to see the recent traffic spike at search engine DuckDuckGo. Apparently people are worried about the NSA seeing their Google search queries, or are moving off Google in protest. Whatever the reason, the spike just won't last. Even as a guy who wants an alternative search engine to capture some of Google's market, I can't help but admit that DDG falls short of usability. Those people who want to nobly move away from Google will be back before long. Google has made quality search results the rule.
Well, quality search results if you share the mindset of the masses. In truth Google's search results are like America's largest beer brands. Miller-Coors wants to reach as many people as possible, and so they produce beer that is inoffensive, rather than good, to the greatest number of people. Similarly, Google's results can't offend people, or else they'll seek an alternative. The problem is that the way Google approaches this just decimates small businesses.  [Read more]
Larry Meyer of Macroeconomic Advisers is a smart guy and, as a former Federal Reserve Governor, is one of the more looked to voices for opinions about Fed policy moves and appointments. He believes that Obama has essentially fired Ben Bernanke and that the president wasn't kind about it.
"This is really remarkable," said Meyer. "I almost fell off my chair when I heard the President's remarks last night. He basically fired Ben Bernanke on the spot, and gave a fairly tepid testimonial afterward." [Read more]
WASHINGTON — Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency, said on Tuesday that American surveillance had helped prevent “potential terrorist events over 50 times since 9/11,” including at least 10 “homeland-based threats.” But he said that a vast majority must remain secret to avoid disclosing sources and methods...... [Read more]
If you ask anyone what colleges and universities are for, they'll give you more or less the same answer: to educate people. That's a good answer. It's the one I give myself. But it's only half the truth. Colleges and universities actually fulfill two separate roles. We all know about both of them. We only talk about one of them. And because of that, we misunderstand almost everything about how higher education works and how it might be improved.
Auto manufacturers and religious institutions commit the same blunder. Sometimes, their innovative solutions run far ahead of the public’s endorsement and fall out-of-favor with consumers.
In 1957, Ford Motor Company launched an advertising blitz for the goofy-looking Edsel. Consumers were turned off by what Ford featured above the car’s front bumper—an oval vertical grill. Customers quipped it looked like a horse collar. [Read more]
Hassan Rouhani, Iran's newly elected president, will serve for four years. By the end of his term, Iran and the U.S. will either reach an agreement, or they will go to war.
Last March, Obama told an Israeli television station that it would take "over a year or so" for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, the first time an American president stated a timeframe on the record. The dates coincide with a U.S. intelligence estimate during George W. Bush's administration: "sometime during the 2010-2015 time-frame." [Read more]
There is nothing wrong with being young. Nothing wrong with not having a high school diploma. Nothing wrong with being idealistic. Nothing wrong with distrusting the government if something they're doing doesn't strike you right.
There is something wrong with taking a job so sensitive to national security it requires a solemn oath to keep what you've seen secret, and within three months of your starting date you've already disregarded the oath and have stolen the very secrets you promised to protect. [Read more]
Just some things I don't want to see on any blogs anymore, anywhere. These words and phrases are now banned until further notice on all of the Internet. I will be working with my friends at the NSA to enforce this. By the way, they aren't all that prevalent at Dag. This is just stuff irking me on the rest of the Internet.
We the people...
Duly appointed officials...
Duly elected representatives (or president)...
He (She/They/It) broke his (her/their/its) oath... (I'm so sick of it).
Those who would trade freedom for security... (seriously, stop it. In the history of mankind, this quotation has never convinced anyone of anything and everyone has heard it a zillion times.) [Read more]
In the wild (i.e., when we're not talking about contrived examples), data mining involves significant amounts of statistics. There are two common quotes that come to mind when talking about statistics:
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. (Popularized by Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens, who attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli, but with uncertain provenance.)
The old saying is that “figures will not lie,” but a new saying is “liars will figure.” It is our duty, as practical statisticians, to prevent the liar from figuring; in other words, to prevent him from perverting the truth, in the interest of some theory he wishes to establish. (Carroll D. Wright, a prominent statistician employed by the U.S. government in 1889)
Go ahead, collect my phone records, track my websurfing, analyze my email. I don't give a damn.
I do not write this out of any loyalty to Obama or because I worry about the Terrorist Threat. I simply do not care about my data privacy and never have.
Why should I? My buying habits are ordinary, my emails are pedestrian, my phone calls would bore any spy to tears, my political opinions are very public and published under my own name. As long as no one spams me or steals my identity, why should I care what they do with my data? [Read more]
This morning, my favorite columnist in the world, David Brooks, gave his quick take on Edward Snowden, ultimately condemning him for antisocial behavior driven by a hyper-individualistic morality formed out of his refusal to conform to various social norms (he didn't finish high school, or community college, didn't want to be friends with his neighbor, hadn't put a ring on his girlfriend, no organized religion, etc.) [Read more]
In the 4 1/2 years I've been writing this blog I've never felt inclined to bring in a guest poster. Today I do, and I couldn't be happier that Briana Morganroth has agreed to let me reprint the essay she wrote about her thoughts on gun control.
She is the granddaughter of my friend, Ramona Moormann, the publisher of The Marcellus (MI) News (where my own pieces sometimes appear), and I first read this essay in her newspaper a couple of weeks ago.
But here--I'll let Ramona tell you about her granddaughter:  [Read more]
Contrary to popular belief, surviving the adversity of the Black community requires the ability to think. When I look back upon my life I can only imagine the contributions that some of my friends could have made to this society had they not succumb to the adversity of having to survive the Black experience. The only reason that I survived was through a combination of luck, and the fact that I lacked the personal courage that many of my friends were blessed with. So I was willing to put up with many of the things that they were either willing to either lay their lives on the line to fight, or they found so unbearable that they essentially committed suicide through the use of drugs and other means. [Read more]
Back in the 2008 primaries (ah, those days that no progressive blogger out for anything other than a fight really misses) I though it was a big deal that Senator Obama didn't support people's right to bring class action civil suits against telephone carriers who broke privacy laws in order to share information with security agencies. [Read more]
The Otherside, a documentary about the growing and unique world of Northwest hip-hop, is an ambitious documentary. Northwest hip-hop is a very weighty topic - rappers from the Northwest are very similar to white rappers: they're a consistent part of the hip-hop aesthetic but there is still something strange about rap from the Puget Sound; it doesn't quite fit with what we are used to hip-hop sounding, acting or looking like. [Read more]
There's been considerable schadenfreude over Patrick Byrne's claims about naked short selling crashing his company Overstock, amongst which includes circular arguments that his company did poorly so he must be a hack, and the gleeful contention by Goldman Sachs et al that naked short selling didn't actually exist (despite massive fails to deliver exceeding outstanding shares). Claims that were echoed by some (one) here.
I keep hearing so-called Black activists talking about how the "White Supremacist" system is holding the Black man down. But can't these so-called intellectuals see that if White Supremacy can hold the Black man down, that means that the White man is indeed supreme!!!? It’s directly analogous to a man going home and telling his family that he can't feed them because "Willie won't let him." If Willie can prevent him from feeding his family, that means that Willie is the better man. Thus, every time we say, "the White man won't let me," we’re reinforcing the idea in our own minds that the White man is superior to us. It shouldn’t take Socrates to see that simple reality in that logic. [Read more]
Michele Bachmann to leave Washington to spend more time with her "family". Prompts the resurrection of FRIDAY FOLLIES. (What? Every Friday? Uh. . .we'll see how it goes.)