PlasticBoy http://plasticboy.com Ben Williams' blog about technology, Linux, digital music, Rhapsody, veganism, and a little politics. Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:38:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/ Sustaining git-annex development http://plasticboy.com/archives/2013/07/15/sustaining-git-annex-development/ http://plasticboy.com/archives/2013/07/15/sustaining-git-annex-development/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 13:28:47 +0000 http://plasticboy.com/?p=4622 After his successful Kickstarter, Joey Hess is fundraising to continue working on git-annex.

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Free Will, Determinism, Quantum Theory and Statistical Fluctuations: A Physicist’s Take http://plasticboy.com/archives/2013/07/11/free-will-determinism-quantum-theory-and-statistical-fluctuations-a-physicists-take/ http://plasticboy.com/archives/2013/07/11/free-will-determinism-quantum-theory-and-statistical-fluctuations-a-physicists-take/#comments Thu, 11 Jul 2013 16:48:57 +0000 http://plasticboy.com/?p=4620 Carlo Rovelli on free will. You have no free will, but it’s OK because you’ll never understand why you do anything anyway.

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America’s founders would be horrified at this United States of Surveillance http://plasticboy.com/archives/2013/07/03/americas-founders-would-be-horrified-at-this-united-states-of-surveillance/ http://plasticboy.com/archives/2013/07/03/americas-founders-would-be-horrified-at-this-united-states-of-surveillance/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 10:20:23 +0000 http://plasticboy.com/?p=4617 Continue reading ]]> Dan Gillmor:

You may believe there’s no possibility of America turning into a thugocracy, that the amassed information – conversations, business dealings, personal health and financial data, media consumption, gun records and so much more – will never be systematically misused that way. But even if you do, ask yourself this: if a young employee of one of the countless private companies administering the surveillance state could get access to so much for idealistic reasons, how vulnerable is this material to people with baser motives?
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Who Pays? http://plasticboy.com/archives/2013/02/26/who-pays/ http://plasticboy.com/archives/2013/02/26/who-pays/#comments Tue, 26 Feb 2013 18:14:46 +0000 http://plasticboy.com/?p=4327 Continue reading ]]> Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax System in All 50 States..
The main finding of this report is that virtually every state’s tax system is fundamentally unfair, taking a much greater share of income from middle- and low-income families than from wealthy families. The absence of a graduated personal income tax and the over reliance on consumption taxes exacerbate this problem in many states.

(via Flutterby)

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Japanese Movers http://plasticboy.com/archives/2013/02/23/japanese-movers/ http://plasticboy.com/archives/2013/02/23/japanese-movers/#comments Sat, 23 Feb 2013 22:25:31 +0000 http://plasticboy.com/?p=4325

Leave it to the Movers – YouTube.

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Senators on torture in Zero Dark Thirty http://plasticboy.com/archives/2012/12/21/senators-on-torture-in-zero-dark-thirty/ http://plasticboy.com/archives/2012/12/21/senators-on-torture-in-zero-dark-thirty/#comments Fri, 21 Dec 2012 14:06:17 +0000 http://plasticboy.com/?p=4302 Continue reading ]]> Senators McCain, Feinstein, and Levin write to Sony Pictures regarding the depiction of torture in Zero Dark Thirty:

Recent public opinion polls suggest that a narrow majority of Americans believe that torture can be justified as an effective form of intelligence gathering. This is false. We know that cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners is an unreliable and highly ineffective means of gathering intelligence.

The use of torture should be banished from serious public discourse for these reasons alone, but more importantly, because it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, because it is an affront to America’s national honor, and because it is wrong.

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SOPA Roundup http://plasticboy.com/archives/2012/01/21/sopa-roundup/ http://plasticboy.com/archives/2012/01/21/sopa-roundup/#comments Sat, 21 Jan 2012 11:22:08 +0000 http://plasticboy.com/?p=3904 Continue reading ]]> Here are a few smart things people are saying about SOPA and PIPA. Jeff Atwood gets at the key political takeaway:
So yes, join us in fighting the obvious insanity of legislation like SOPA and PIPA that threaten the open, unfettered Internet. But please, please also join us in attacking the far more pernicious problem of lobbyist money subtly corrupting our government. If we don’t deal with that, we will never stop fighting bills like SOPA and PIPA.

Y Combinator wants to invest in startups that will replace Hollywood:

The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.

And finally, Nat Torkington responds to the President’s challenge to the tech industry to find ways to fight piracy:

All I can think is: we gave you the Internet. We gave you the Web. We gave you MP3 and MP4. We gave you e-commerce, micropayments, PayPal, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, the iPad, the iPhone, the laptop, 3G, wifi–hell, you can even get online while you’re on an AIRPLANE. What the hell more do you want from us?

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Coal Energy Drink: Keeps You Running Until It All Runs Out http://plasticboy.com/archives/2011/10/01/coal-energy-drink-keeps-you-running-until-it-all-runs-out/ http://plasticboy.com/archives/2011/10/01/coal-energy-drink-keeps-you-running-until-it-all-runs-out/#comments Sat, 01 Oct 2011 23:15:45 +0000 http://plasticboy.com/?p=3879 ]]> http://plasticboy.com/archives/2011/10/01/coal-energy-drink-keeps-you-running-until-it-all-runs-out/feed/ 0 The Paradox of Backyard Hens http://plasticboy.com/archives/2011/09/08/the-paradox-of-backyard-hens/ http://plasticboy.com/archives/2011/09/08/the-paradox-of-backyard-hens/#comments Thu, 08 Sep 2011 12:38:29 +0000 http://plasticboy.com/?p=3871 Continue reading ]]> James McWilliams on some problems with keeping backyard chickens.

For those without the fortitude to self-slaughter, keeping older hens as companion animals is also an option. This choice, too, has a downside–one that applies to the chickens while they’re laying as well. Backyard chickens are like fish in a barrel for predators. As a quick perusal of any on-line forum for chicken keepers will attest, chickens frequently fall prey to dogs, hawks, skunks, coyotes, foxes, and, notoriously, raccoons. Owners often declare themselves completely helpless to protect their birds. Forcing chickens into semi-secure locations and inhibiting their natural survival tactics is in the same vein as a hunter loading a feeder with corn and sitting above it in a deer blind. And that’s no way to treat a pet.

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Rushkoff on Unemployment http://plasticboy.com/archives/2011/09/08/rushkoff-on-unemployment/ http://plasticboy.com/archives/2011/09/08/rushkoff-on-unemployment/#comments Thu, 08 Sep 2011 12:00:38 +0000 http://plasticboy.com/?p=3865 Continue reading ]]> Douglas Rushkoff has a great piece on CNN about whether we ought to view unemployment as a problem. This reminds me of Robert Anton Wilson’s RICH Economy, written thirty years ago and seeming more prescient all the time.

America is productive enough that it could probably shelter, feed, educate, and even provide health care for its entire population with just a fraction of us actually working.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, there is enough food produced to provide everyone in the world with 2,720 kilocalories per person per day. And that’s even after America disposes of thousands of tons of crop and dairy just to keep market prices high. Meanwhile, American banks overloaded with foreclosed properties are demolishing vacant dwellings to get the empty houses off their books.

Our problem is not that we don’t have enough stuff — it’s that we don’t have enough ways for people to work and prove that they deserve this stuff.

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