Archive for September, 2009

Peter Schiff on healthcare – part 2

September 29, 2009

I came across the video below of Peter Schiff “interviewed” by Ed Schultz. This has to be one of the worst interviews I’ve seen. Schultz simply wasn’t interested in constructive questioning or dialog. It was clear Schultz entered the interview with the intent of shouting Peter down. This was annoying at best and disrespectful at worst but getting beyond that, Schiff brought up a point (between 7:07 and 7:18) that I’ve questioned before.

I want people who now get health insurance from their employers to get money – to get wages instead that are not taxed and they can make a decision if they want to buy healthcare or if they want to buy something else.

The problem I have with this is that it equates the need of health care with the desire for every other consumer product on the market. Schiff doesn’t seem to think that health care should be seen as any different than the production of cars or Frisbees. So let’s say that one chooses not to buy health insurance and their gamble doesn’t pay off. They get sick. A car salesman has no ethical obligation to sell someone a car when they’ve spent their dollars on something else. A toy store owner won’t feel a compassionate impulse to sell someone a Frisbee when they’ve spent their income on something else. Should doctors be put in a position to say, “Sorry about that cancer, buddy. Next time you should think about making better economic choices. I hope you’ve learned your lesson.”

Either I’m misunderstanding Peter’s proposal or his approach is void of any humanity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the free market. I just don’t see that the efficiency of the free market on its own can sufficiently meet essential human needs.

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dear lily, adjust your sails

September 26, 2009

I hadn’t heard of Lily Allen until her thoughtless, ranting, anti-filesharing babble went mainstream. I also hadn’t heard of Dan Bull.

Matt Asay’s open road to nowhere

September 26, 2009

Matt Asay:

The path forward is open source, not free software.

In one sense this is true as freedom and Free software are the goal, not means to an end – but clearly this is not what Matt means. The question a pure, “pragmatic” open source supporter could ask is, “If this is the path forward, where am I trying to go?” One may get the impression that while Matt loves the Open Road, he has no vision of where he’s headed. Going “mainstream” is useful and arguably necessary (thanks, Open Source) but if that’s it – if that’s the goal – the “path forward” leads nowhere. Proprietary software companies love nothing more than those who repeat (or imply) the mantra that technical advantages and market forces alone will be the cause of open source’s coming dominance. Matt concludes:

Free software has lost. Open source has won. We’re all the better for it.

There’s certainly differences regarding the values empahsized by Free software and Open Source, but since when did the two begin to compete against each other?

Update (09/29): Glyn Moody goes into more detail here.

get sort of addicted to sharing

September 25, 2009

Richard Stallman was recently asked his thoughts on hardware manufacturers’ violations of Free software licensing, in particular the GPL. While he voiced some concern he spoke candidly of his long-term plan:

Someday they will though, and as long as they’re going to horde it, we want them to horde ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to share sometime in the next decade.

OK, OK. RMS never said that. I jest on years past.

an alternative windows 7 release party

September 24, 2009

Here’s a SO-painfully-lame-it’s-funny promotional advertisement from Microsoft.

If you really feel a need to have a Windows 7 release party, here’s an alternative plan:

1. Wait until October 29th

2. Download and install Ubuntu 9.10

3. Fire up a torrent of an unauthorized copy of Windows 7

4. Install VirtualBox and Windows 7 on that

Note that steps 3 & 4 are entirely detrimental optional.

proprietary software needs “piracy”

September 22, 2009

Let’s say the Wal-Mart Corporation could wave a magic wand, putting an end to all shoplifting from their stores. Would they? Let’s say the Microsoft Corporation could wave a magic wand, putting an end to all unauthorized distribution of their software. Would they? Perhaps surprisingly to some, the answers to these two questions are polar opposites. It would seem there’s not much difference between the two suggestions, right? After all, unauthorized distribution of software is “stealing” – just like shoplifting. It is to commit “theft”, so they say. It would be absurd not to stop people stealing from your business.

Organizations like the BSA claim that “piracy” does “harm” to the proprietary software industry. However, it’s “piracy” that keeps their ship from sinking quickly. Without “piracy”, one of the biggest obstacles to Free software adoption would be removed. To claim that “economic viability is threatened” with billions in losses is to twist the truth by ignoring the bigger picture. Without “piracy”, the actual losses would put those numbers to shame. The more Free software gains traction, the more “piracy” becomes proprietary software’s life jacket.

sudo, print me a webcomic

September 15, 2009

OKAY.

(Lucky I read my RSS feeds today given the 24 hr. window…mine’s signed. :))

economist “empathy”

September 14, 2009

Shikha Dalmia on U.S. health care reform:

[Obama] would of course ban insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions–tantamount to forcing fire insurance companies to write coverage on a burning building

Not quite. The health of one’s body is not equivalent to the strength of a building’s infrastructure. Criticizing public plans for health care is like shooting fish in a barrel when one’s premise is that basic human needs are on par with any other economic widget. Of course, if the empathy of the U.S. people weren’t overshadowed by the mainstream media and heartless private interests, a single payer proposal wouldn’t have been pushed into obscurity.

Derren Brown’s lotto prediction

September 13, 2009

I don’t claim to know what the exact trick was but you’re a sucker if you buy into the idea that a collective consciousness was at work. To me, what stood out as a red flag was Derren’s claim that:

The BBC have a legal right to announce the lottery numbers first before anybody else does so because of that, I can’t show you the numbers until just after the lottery has been announced – if that makes sense.

Well no, it doesn’t make sense. Derren was “predicting” the numbers, not informing the public of the official results. But this gave Derren the supposed excuse to keep his numbers hidden until after the BBC announced the winning digits. However, Derren is more than within his legal right to announce what he predicts the numbers will be without permission. As I said, I don’t know how he did it but I bet this bogus legal inconvenience is where to start if searching for an answer.

Next time Derren should reveal his prediction just before the numbers are made official if he wishes to impress. Somehow, I doubt he could pull this off and it surely wouldn’t be a legality holding him back.

apology failure

September 10, 2009

Generally, I have no problem with Joe Wilson saying “You lie!” during Obama’s speech in regard to “good manners” or “unbecoming behavior”. Manners and behavior are overrated. If Obama lied, then such protestation could be justified. What’s disturbing is Wilson’s apology:

“While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable.”

If you disagree, you don’t accuse another of lying, you state why there is disagreement. Joe had a chance to shed light thru his apology (i.e. bring proof of Obama’s intentional dishonesty), but proved the purpose of his outburst was disruptive, not honorable. Disruptive heckling is blurring the line between town-hall meetings and joint sessions of the United States congress.