Friday, October 27, 2017

Kneeling and the NFL

I'll start the conservation here because it's relevant. Tim Tebow knelt *during* games, and he was either lauded or no one cared. He was calling attention to himself for his cause: religion.

Meanwhile, black players kneel *before* the game to draw attention to their cause: social justice.  And there is much discussion and public outcry on every side of the issue. At least in part because the man in the Oval Office is race baiting. 

So the NFL is trying to decide what to do about all of this.  The only thing that really matters here is public perception and (more importantly) money.

And then the underlying race issue rears its head in the ensuing discussions. Old, white owners say really stupid things to the black players. I won't say it was intentional, but certainly the roots of racism run deep, because they said things they wanted to say, but which are at the very core of the issue.  Saying they can't let the inmates run the prison is exactly what the kneeling players are protesting in general.  Sure, it's an expression, but wrong in the context. And then to even comment on race at all for the owners isn't right.

Should the NFL do something? That's within their control and, as the workplace, they can.  But they have to ban kneeling to promote a cause, including prayer, in its entirety. And find a way to keep,it from being the focal point of games.  

Players can and should protest in their own way.  But stop saying it's about patriotism. And let's have an honest discussion about racism.  Perhaps the NFL could create a forum to let players express themselves, and let them not come out for the anthem if they so choose. And because this has become a hot button issue, maybe the players need to find a new way to express their views. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dave’s take: Trump plans to release classified JFK documents

I see el donaldo wants to release all the JFK material. I suppose it's another attempt to distract and whatever.

And surely conspiracy theorists and some on the right will seize on excerpts to try and make some "deep state" linkage to try and tell us government is bad and to setup for the scenario that if trump face impeachment or removal then it's connected somehow.

That said, in spite of my interest in the assassination, I won't go through whatever is released.

I've waited this long. I can wait longer. The only focus should be on our hacked election and our incompetent fool in the Oval Office.

Once that's done, I'll have some reading to catch up on.

Still troubled

The ability to "micro target" and "influence voters" still troubles me. It's not so much that it happened because it probably did.

The question is about whether it helped sway the entire election.

I keep going back to the polling that was taking place. Near the end of September, the polls looked like this:
Clinton: 49%
Trump: 45%
Other: 3%
Undecided: 3%

Now to be fair, a month or so before, the undecided percentage was higher and looked something like this:
Clinton: 45%
Trump: 37%
Other: 9%
Undecided: 9%

So in essence, they each took some of the undecided and other voters.

But people are funny. Some of the ones who switched might have been single issue folks who could be swayed. But I can't see how it would be enough to swing the election, can you?

I doubt it. Especially since Clinton won the popular vote.

The more I consider it, look into it, and understand it, it seems much more likely that the effort required to affect the vote itself is much less than trying to influence voters and maybe get a result.

Think about the voter suppression efforts. The subtle attempts to change voting locations and times they were open for early voting. The mailers that went out that were intended to confuse voters. The ID requirements. The provisional ballots in some cases.

And then, of course, there is the VERY REAL prospect that votes were altered, or not counted properly.

Electronic voting is vulnerable, as and others have shown us.

Or maybe it was even simpler. We know that some election databases were hacked. To what aim? Whatever it is, it can't be good. Perhaps it was to target some voters so they would encounter issues and have to be provisional - and essentially uncounted.

Hopefully we'll know the truth one day. Our democracy depends on it. Let's simply go back to paper ballots and hand counting them until we find a better way.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Build that wall?!

I coach soccer. There is a term for when players stand in a line to prevent a good view of the goal and potentially block the kick. It's called a wall.

So we're playing today and the opposing coach tells his team to build a wall on a free kick. They do. My team cleverly passed the ball to a player near the end of that line and then that player took a shot on the goal and scored.

The opposing coach said something about the wall not moving.

And that's when the metaphor hit me: it's always possible to get around said wall.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Voting against your own self interests

I saw a recent report that el donaldos latest order which removes subsidies for the healthcare market will disproportionately impact people in 20 or so states that he won, and where people really supported him. And to be fair, these are states where people have been historically under insured - and who were helped by Obamacare.

Before Obamacare, there was money given to the state through various programs to fund public hospitals and support the states general health issues. So people could (and did) turn to the public care system when they got sick and didn't have insurance. But all that money was consolidated into the subsidy program, and its not being returned to the public health system.

So in effect, their support of this guy actually worked against their own best interests. And their own health and well being.

It makes no sense, and perhaps at some point, they will realize that they were conned.

So I have to ask "why are you hitting yourself?"

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A follow up. I know why...

While I can't understand how people are so easily influenced, I do know why the attempt was made: this was an effort to disrupt business as usual in the US. To sow seeds of civil discourse that would surely help to take the US off the world stage.

I don't think they ever imagined it work as well as it did. I think they wanted disinformation to aid the cause, but could only dream that we would be so petty, so stupid. And that it continues now is simply mind boggling.

People are still hung up on the contrived controversies like kneeling. Unbelievable.

Yes, Nelson, haha indeed.

What am I missing?

Vote hacking is one thing. That would actually change the outcome of an election.

But this whole discussion about how the voting public could be swayed by articles on Facebook, items on twitter, etc. That just baffles me.

Look, I get the technology of target ring and making people feel a certain way about a topic.

What I don't understand is the human nature of it. How is that people are so ambivalent about an election? How is it that a single issue - and a candidates position (or perceived position) on that issue - can sway you? How can a negative article about one of the candidates can push you?

Aren't we all adults here? Can't we make decision based on our own beliefs? Why do we need someone else to influence us?

I see the ads for cars and sodas, and I know people who would never, ever pick the competitor. Because they are a lifer for the one they prefer. People do the same with their sports teams.

And yet when it comes to things like an election, they can't decide and get swayed by an ad that targets them for something as simple as "so and so likes this soda better"...hey I like that soda! I need to vote for him/her!

It's amazing to me. I had a friend who used to tell me "people are dicks" and I guess she was proven to be right.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

#MakeAmericaSmartAgain The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions (Address by Abraham Lincoln before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, January 27, 1838)

Lincoln had some powerful words. This speech still resonates, perhaps as much today as when he gave it in 1838. 

He was talking about abolition, and specifically about the burning of a black man. So context is important. But nevertheless, his words fit into today where there was an assault on our democracy and congress sits mostly in idle and lets it happen for their own agenda. 

The piece that of the speech I find interesting is this: 

How, then, shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. 

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Short. Sweet. To the point. That's the beauty Dave's iPhone. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

That pesky first amendment, and religion

The first amendment to our constitution is pretty clear:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I highlighted the relevant part to make it easy to spot. 

And yet there are some in this country (including the person in the attorney general role) who seem to think that we can allow for religious expression in government, prayer in public events, or the ability to discriminate based on religion, as a right.

Some even argue that we are some kind of Christian nation, based on the founding fathers having been moderately religious, and in part because Benjamin Franklin heavily influenced some of the thinking by helping to create the great seal and having made clear that obedience to god was a part of protecting against tyranny. Which really isn't so much about religion, as it is about protecting our fledgling nation. 

Besides, none of them was particularly devout, and they all held their faith close to their vest. Information here

So let's assume the religious folk are right. But where do we start? If we say we are "one nation under god," which god is that? In the history of humanity, there have been around 63,000 religions of some sort.  And among them, there have been an estimated 102 Billion (yes 9 zeros!) gods.  These include various forms, such as Zeus and the gods on mount Olympus, Roman gods, Egyptian gods, the thousands of Hindu gods, and so on.  

If we decide to agree on a single Christian god, then we are establishing a religion.  

Perhaps what some think is that the belief system should draw from what our founding fathers thought of as religion.

Let's explore that. 

There were three main religions in America at the time of the revolution: Anglican, Congregationalist, and Presbyterian. 

The Anglican Church was (and is) the official Church of England. It is based on the monarchy, and it had a fundamental problem in America, from Wikipedia:  
For these American patriots, even the forms of Anglican services were in doubt, since the Prayer Book rites of MatinsEvensong and Holy Communion, all included specific prayers for the British Royal Family. Consequently, the conclusion of the War of Independence eventually resulted in the creation of two new Anglican churches, the Episcopal Church in the United States in those states that had achieved independence

So should it be the episcopal church instead? Wikipedia notes that:
Embracing the symbols of the British presence in the American colonies, such as the monarchy, the episcopate, and even the language of the Book of Common Prayer, the Church of England almost drove itself to extinction during the upheaval of the American Revolution.[27] More than any other denomination, the War of Independence internally divided both clergy and laity of the Church of England in America, and opinions covered a wide spectrum of political views: patriots, conciliators, and loyalists. While many Patriots were suspicious of Loyalism in the church, about three-quarters of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were nominally Anglican laymen, including Thomas JeffersonWilliam Paca, and George Wythe.[28] It was often assumed that persons considered "High Church" were Loyalists, whereas persons considered "Low Church" were Patriots; assumptions with possibly dangerous implications for the time.

So while it's reasonable to assume that episcopal works for this, its early version was very different than what we see today. Besides these factions would have neutered it as the one religion. Even if it was, do you think that everyone would accept that we are an episcopal nation?

The Congregational church was much more liberal.  Again from Wikipedia:
Within the United States, the model of Congregational churches was carried by migrating settlers from New England into New York, then into the Old North West, and further. With their insistence on independent local bodies, they became important in many social reformmovements, including abolitionismtemperance, and women's suffrage. Modern Congregationalism in the United States is largely split into three bodies: the United Church of Christ, the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, which is the most theologically conservative.

So this doesn't fit with the current view of Christianity, based on the shift being much more recent. 

The presbyterians were more complex, based on the teachings of Calvin and Knox, coming from the reformist Protestant movement.  The religion came from primarily Scotland, where there was an interest in not being beholden to the crown.  But in the Americas, there were many dissenting views, and several factions that wanted Presbyterianism to spread and grow in different ways.  Around the time of the revolution, they had come together, mostly, seeking moral purity, but the Scottish tried to sway and influence them more. So there is uncertainty about their cause and purpose.  They were led by a counsel of elders who tried to influence government as well. 

The problem here is that it was the smallest of the three main faiths, so it's unlikely to have been so influential in the direction of the founding fathers. 

And as I noted, we can add to this discussion that the points of view of the patriots, loyalists, and others would have been more puritanical in nature. And certainly not the form of Christianity we see practiced today. 

Maybe the religion was Judaism, because there was a small group that founded the first synagogues around the time of the revolution.  Or does that not fit with the point of view?

In summary, the founding fathers did not establish religion, rather they diverged from that notion. 

And so for anyone to say that we're a Christian Nation is either deluded or outright lying to you. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017


In context of the news this week where some of our elected officials give their only answer as "thoughts and prayers," perhaps the headline should read "where is the Calvary?"

That would be apt.

My recent (CR)APple experience

I do love my apple products. But sometimes it's absolutely painful to work with them.

Take my recent experience. We changed mobile carriers. Two of us were getting new iPhones, while the kids were keeping theirs. 

Of the 4 phones, how many do you think could be called an easy change?  None!  That's right, 100% of the devices had some sort of issue. 

We made sure to unlock both the phones we were moving. First off, what a stupid thing that is. Why are they locked?!   One of them didn't actually get unlocked, though we were told it did, and there's no way to actually for the consumer to tell...until you put the new SIM card in. We got a message that it couldn't be used on the new network. It actually said to contact apple for assistance. So I did. Except that Apple couldn't help me; it's the carriers issue. After much explanation, they finally figured it out and unlocked it.

But along the way, I had to back up the phone (a step the carrier recommended).  To restore the phone from iTunes, we were required to use the oh-so-stupid two-factor authentication. And the iPad attached to the account was locked and I didn't know the password (but my son did). So it took longer than it should have to restore. 

The second device we moved worked perfectly for about 12 hours, then it changed to "no service" and when I took the sim out and replaced it,  it changed to "invalid sim."  I realize this isn't technically an apple issue, but it was frustrating nevertheless. [edit: turns out it was an Apple issue not a SIM card issue. I had to plug the phone into my computer and let iTunes figure out that the phone needed an update. Once it ran, it worked on the new carrier again. Why didn’t anyone mention that?!]

Phone #3 was a new one.  First order of business, back the old one up.  For whatever reason, the machine I was using had many issues and it took several hours to create a backup.  I learned later it was a bug in iTunes.  So there's that.  But wouldn't you know, our internet went out, and so the restoration process was harder than it should have been...especially when I came to realize the new phones REQUIRED the latest version of iTunes ... Which I couldn't download because, no internet. 

Phone #4 was the real challenge. Another new phone. Now I had backed up the one it was replacing onto a computer a week or so before, because it wasn't working right and I didn't want to lose anything on it.  I had thought about backing it up to iCloud as well, but I'll be honest and say that I could figure out how, precisely, the iCloud backup works.  I find the documentation lacking. I also thought I backed up the photos to iCloud, but I missed a setting apparently, and didn't. So just as well.

I got the phone setup....and...where's the backup? It's not on the list to restore. So I selected one prior to that and restored. But where were my pictures, contacts, and other assorted items? Were they gone?

I poked around the Internet and learned some things. First, I learned that sometimes the backups via iTunes to a computer fail. More often than you might think.  Most people don't notice because they don't try and restore. But when it happens to you and you've already reset the device? Oops.  So the "pro tip" is to do the backup, and then to click the restore button to see if the backup is there. 

I also learned that when the backup fails, the data still exists in a backups folder on your computer, and it's not hard to find; It's just missing the plist and manifest files that act as the index. What I did was to copy the missing files from another backup into this folder and I ran one of (actually several) of the iTunes backup explorer tools that are available. It allowed me to see that everything was, in fact, there. 

But I didn't want to pay to recover everything. So instead I copied all the files >1MB to another folder and changed the extension to .jpg. Voila. There were my pictures. Yes the names are weird. And also yes, the exif data is missing. But I have pictures of the kids. 

I looked for any gaps in my contact list and half finished text messages and picked them up and re-added them to the device manually. 

It was work. Many hours of work. But it sure beat losing them. 

Along the way, by the way, I turned off two-factor authentication to make things easier. It was NOT easier, and proved even harder. Frustrated, I turned it back on.

In all, the simple migration to a new carrier and upgrade to two new phones took somewhere between 20-24 hours. And a lot of grit and frustration. 

And I ask again: why is this so freaking hard?!