Web developer & user interface engineer
Tinkering with the web since 1996

email: joe@artlung.com · twitter: @artlung
San Diego, California, USA
aka joecrawford.com

ARTLUNG. Personal website c. 2014.

March, 2014: 33 posts.

Freedom and the rule of law: fragile and precious

From Our Comrade The Electron by Maciej Ceglowski:

Bad people are using the global surveillance system we built to do something mean! Holy crap! Who could have imagined this?

Or when we learn that the American government is reading the email that you send unencrypted to the ad-supported mail service in another country where it gets archived forever. Inconceivable!

I’m not saying these abuses aren’t serious. But they’re the opposite of surprising. People will always abuse power. That’s not a new insight. There are cuneiform tablets complaining about it. Yet here we are in 2014, startled because unscrupulous people have started to use the powerful tools we created for them.

We put so much care into making the Internet resilient from technical failures, but make no effort to make it resilient to political failure. We treat freedom and the rule of law like inexhaustible natural resources, rather than the fragile and precious treasures that they are.

Stupid HTTP Status Jokes

Questionable humor value. And yet, there I go.


Quotes of the Day

“Monsieur, azonnal kövessen engem bitte.” –Gaff

“Lófaszt, nehogy már. Te vagy a Blade.” –Gaff

“That gibberish he talked was city speak, gutter talk. A mishmash of Japanese, Spanish, German, what have you. I didn’t really need a translator, I knew the lingo, every good cop did. But I wasn’t going to make it easier for him.” –Deckard

via IMDB. Reminder: I like Gaff. An old header. Reconstituted Headers (2007). My Favorite Characters from Fiction (2002).

Debt and Education / Chomsky / Shirky

From Chomsky: How America’s Great University System Is Getting Destroyed

Well how do you indoctrinate the young? There are a number of ways. One way is to burden them with hopelessly heavy tuition debt. Debt is a trap, especially student debt, which is enormous, far larger than credit card debt. It’s a trap for the rest of your life because the laws are designed so that you can’t get out of it. If a business, say, gets in too much debt it can declare bankruptcy, but individuals can almost never be relieved of student debt through bankruptcy. They can even garnish social security if you default. That’s a disciplinary technique. I don’t say that it was consciously introduced for the purpose, but it certainly has that effect. And it’s hard to argue that there’s any economic basis for it. Just take a look around the world: higher education is mostly free. In the countries with the highest education standards, let’s say Finland, which is at the top all the time, higher education is free. And in a rich, successful capitalist country like Germany, it’s free. In Mexico, a poor country, which has pretty decent education standards, considering the economic difficulties they face, it’s free. In fact, look at the United States: if you go back to the 1940s and 50s, higher education was pretty close to free. The GI Bill gave free education to vast numbers of people who would never have been able to go to college. It was very good for them and it was very good for the economy and the society; it was part of the reason for the high economic growth rate. Even in private colleges, education was pretty close to free. Take me: I went to college in 1945 at an Ivy League university, University of Pennsylvania, and tuition was $100. That would be maybe $800 in today’s dollars. And it was very easy to get a scholarship, so you could live at home, work, and go to school and it didn’t cost you anything. Now it’s outrageous. I have grandchildren in college, who have to pay for their tuition and work and it’s almost impossible. For the students that is a disciplinary technique.

And Clay Shirky: The End of Higher Education’s Golden Age

Though the landscape of higher education in the U.S., spread across forty-six hundred institutions, hosts considerable variation, a few commonalities emerge: the bulk of students today are in their mid-20s or older, enrolled at a community or commuter school, and working towards a degree they will take too long to complete. One in three won’t complete, ever. Of the rest, two in three will leave in debt. The median member of this new student majority is just keeping her head above water financially. The bottom quintile is drowning.

One obvious way to improve life for the new student majority is to raise the quality of the education without raising the price. This is clearly the ideal, whose principal obstacle is not conceptual but practical: no one knows how. The value of our core product—the Bachelor’s degree—has fallen in every year since 2000, while tuition continues to increase faster than inflation.

The other way to help these students would be to dramatically reduce the price or time required to get an education of acceptable quality (and for acceptable read “enabling the student to get a better job”, their commonest goal.) This is a worse option in every respect except one, which is that it may be possible.

Am I still a Respiratory Therapist?

I am not licensed in California. That expired 10 years ago. My CV is way out of date.

BreEZe - State of California_2014-03-05_15-38-07

I kept paying for the license until 2004 even though I last practiced in 1997.

I received Certificate Number 1555 for Respiratory Care Practitioner in Virginia in November 1993, but those expired long ago. In 1998 Virginia went to a license model and I was long gone out of there by then.

Still, according to the body that is responsible for the major accreditation of Respiratory Therapists, the NBRC, my CRTT and RRT credentials are still valid and valid indefinitely. Perhaps I should do my continuing education. You know, in case computer programming goes away as a profession.

NBRC_All Directory_2014-03-05_15-41-43

I’m still RRT #46428 from way back in December 1992. Man that test was nerve-wracking.

Tab Sweep Time

I started writing this post back in November of 2013 and failed to finish it. Ah well.

Oh golly, I don’t blog all that much. So, time to sweep some of the things I’ve been reading and watching in the past few weeks. And comment randomly.

It’s scary to change careers a short inspirational comic by Karen X. Cheng.

GitHub put up a useful guide to how to choose an open source licence for your project.

Bruce Sterling continues to provide blistering and interesting commentary on the current day: The Blast Shack (December 22, 2010) The Ecuadorian Library or, The Blast Shack After Three Years. On Snowden, the NSA and the persistent insanity of secretive organizations in a society that declaims openness. It’s all quite dispiriting.

Machete Maidens Unleashed is a documentary about b-movies of a grindhouse nature made in the Philippines in the 1960s. I’ve mentioned that I was in one of these terrible movies: Up From The Depths before, here and here.

Excellent Co-workers are Excellent.

Last Friday some code I wrote finally got battle tested and was found wanting (read: it was not very good). And because of deployment processes I needed a co-worker to deploy it. Each time a new build of the software deployed my co-worker used an exclamation that it was complete that was colorful.

  • (5:49:10 PM) booya!
  • (6:09:51 PM) [val kilmer as doc holiday]  “say when”
  • (6:17:44 PM) bada bing!
  • (6:24:46 PM) go!
  • (6:28:27 PM) ca-ching!~
  • (6:42:02 PM) GO SPEED RACER GO!
  • (6:50:16 PM) EL KABONG!
  • (7:22:39 PM) YABA DABA DOO!!
  • (7:30:05 PM) Whoa, mule, whoa, mule!
  • (7:34:08 PM) I’M GUMBY DAMNIT!!
  • (7:38:38 PM) ALACAZAM!   
  • (7:41:09 PM) OH MIGHTY ISIS!!!
  • (7:46:53 PM) UP UP AND AWAY!!
  • (7:54:58 PM) THUNDERCATS!!!!
  • (8:04:20 PM) Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!!
  • (8:20:29 PM) That’s all folks!

Robot Inventory, Current Edition

The Bot Group

  • Ultraman Cosmos (red)
  • Father of Ultra (horns)
  • Ultraman Neos (blue)
  • Getter Robo (axes)
  • The Big Guy
  • Rusty The Boy Robot
  • Getter Dragon
  • Hexbug Ant
  • Kikkerland Le Pinch
  • Transformers Dreadwing (1)
  • Transformers Dreadwing (2)
  • Schylling Tin Bot X-306
  • Space Robot Wind-Up Party Favor
  • Getter 1
  • Gaiking
  • Analyzer Unit 09
  • Getter Robo (Superdeformed)
  • Gundam Converge 12 RX-79[G] Ground Type
  • Mechagodzilla (Superdeformed)
  • Girl Robot
  • Combattler
  • Iron Giant
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