polemicist: a writer who argues in opposition to others  

A BLOG about science, technology, consumerism, philosophy, higher education, media and other bothersome stuff that makes up modern life...

20071226.1034 Misplaced Road-Rage

Now that I am back in New York I can safely trash-talk Colorado drivers from a distance.  I recently spent 50+ days in the glorious state of Colorado based in Denver.  I went snowboarding 15+ times at 7 different mountains on the weekends in-between working someone else's job doing sabbatical coverage.  I experienced both indian-summer weather as well as getting caught in the year's first storm on I70 heading towards the tunnel.  I've had a taste of it all.

Everyone I have spoken to so far whom is not indigenous to the state agrees with me with what I am about to say:  People in Denver don't know how to drive.  Granted - that's a brutal over-generalization, but with the multi-lane highways and the low traffic  density when compared to New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, or any town in Europe, people seem to complain an awful lot about the traffic.

I think the way that I characterize it is like so:  Colorado drivers are passive aggressive.  New York drivers by comparison are aggressive aggressive.  This means that I can count on everyone to be in a hurry and to do the most selfish thing possible.  This makes everyone's behavior equally predictable.  In Denver this isn't the case.  People do selfish things for no apparent reason other than to mess with your head.

A prime example of this has to do with changing lanes.  Apparently showing your turn-signal is a sign of weakness or something.  Invariably people accelerated to keep me from getting in front of them - then I pulled in behind them - and they would slow down to below the speed limit.  This isn't being in a hurry - this is a Power Trip.  That's what I mean by 'passive aggressive'.


20071219.1635 Blow Up Your iPhone

I understand the contractual obligations that Apple has that require them to ram DRM down our throats.  But I have to ask:  How exactly do photos that I have taken myself and retain all the rights to in any way infringe on this?  In short - why can't I plug my iPhone into any computer and upload pictures I have taken?

In this case it is actually easier to do on a PC, but depending on the Scanner & Camera driver available - you might only get limited to 1,000 photos.   I'm at >2,100 now.  Why is it that if I choose Sync Photos I get a warning every time that I'm about to hose all the pictures and replace them with what's on the computer already?

On a Mac it's not even an option.  Oh and worst of all - the pictures seem to come down in a completely random order.  This makes assembling the panoramic shots that I take very much more difficult than before, not to mention simply filing your pictures.

The iTunes application is a monster, especially when you are trying to manage a phone that you've lived with, unsynced, for over two months.  Would it be so catastrophic to allow a file browser.  Even the phone seems to randomly pick what I have and have not watched, listened to.  That is especially a hassle when you're trying to sync podcasts.

20071207.1508 Torture in the 'Modern Age'

I have tried to stay apolitical with this blog.  Mostly I just pick on people for being stupid.  Every political party has stupid people in it, so I tend to believe that I rip everyone apart equally.  For the purposes of full disclosure, I am a registered Republican.  But honestly, for the last 7 years I've been saying "Dude, where's my Party?"  I would re-register as an independent, but we have a 2 party system, not a multi-party system such as Italy for example.  Not only do I vote, but I turn out for the primaries also.  Independents can't really do that and so I won't give up that virtual molecule of power, no matter what I think of the current party leaders.  As a friend once said to me "Generations of people fought & died so that I could have the Right to throw my vote away"

All of that being said - I am above all a scientist.  That means that I collect data and try to come to conclusions based on observable facts without preconceived predjudices.  Non-biased experimentation has scientifically established that the practice of gathering information through the use of physical torture does not work.  On this issue I most agree with Senator McCain, who was himself a victim of torture during his own experience as a prisoner of war.  There is no one else in government today, on either side of the aisle, that has the moral high ground that man has.  Period.

But I repeatedly hear about the ticking time-bomb scenario as justification for torture.  More and more often I have come to realize that this comes from the television show 24, and not from real events.  I challenge anyone to point out one case where we have known for certain that something was going to happen and known for certain that a person in custody had information that could stop it and known for certain that we could get it from them by torturing them.  That is pure fantasy, plain & simple.  If you have convinced yourself that you are in this situation - then you need to be held accountable when you are proven wrong and never be allowed in a position to do it again.

But fantasy or not,  Supreme Court Justice Scalia has recently cited 24 in a completely inappropriate way to justify torture.

Let me go on the record as saying that the existing laws and ratified treaties (equivalent of law) against torture are correct and should not be compromised in any way.  IF EVER there is a case where those laws are circumvented in some legitimately justifiable way, then the mechanism of Presidential Pardon still exists to exonerate those who felt the need to cross that line.  It can only be an extremely rare event where it might be thus justified and therefore it calls for extraordinary attention & measures to be used.  Anything else systematizes the use of torture.  To restate that in simpler terms - first you convict them of a crime and then you pardon them. 

The Presidential Pardon is the Ultimate Loophole.  But it can't be hidden.  Everyone knows when it is used.  Therefore the President is accountable for when it is abused.  That's why the Founding Fathers of the United States set things up that way.  It's called Checks & Balances - though that's not terribly in fashion anymore...

I see lots of bumper stickers saying "Support Our Troops" - so let me ask this - if we don't follow the Geneva convention, then why would our enemies?  How does it 'support' the troops to put them at greater risk of being tortured when they are captured?

20071203.1514 Just the Facts

I'm still frosted about the treatment at Keystone.  I thought I would back up and take a look at things with a more critical eye.  In fact, when I bought my lift tickets there were no signs indicating what I had to expect.  The greeting I got was warm and hospitable, though I was told that they would not honor my Utix Universal Ski Ticket because Keystone had not been paid by Discover for all of the times they allowed people to use them the year before.

I discovered later that the reason for the lack of signs was that I did not get my tickets in the main area.  I bought mine near the pay-lot where I paid $15 to park my car for the day.  Had I gone to the free lot and walked in the main entrance I might have seen this:

 And naturally I would have had to walk past that sign to get my tickets.  If I had walked towards the gondola I would have seen this sign:

Now that's a little more kosher - but mind you - I accessed the ski area directly via the Puma Express lift near the pay lot all day before I came near those signs.

I mentioned in my previous post that they did not close the bars - which implied that they condoned drinking & skiing.  That might be a stretch since Apre's Ski is a tradition, right?  But when I walked into the ski rental shop in the main village I noticed these items for sale:

Flasks and shot glasses...  Exactly the things they were searching for.  Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy here?

Upon talking with a young woman who works as both a waitress and a cashier it was explained to me that the company has a new COO and the new policies were a direct result of that.  Well Ms. Kay, "you're doing a helluva job" - if your intention is to alienate your core audience and drive people away from your venue, that is.

You can not and should not attempt to vaccinate against crime.  People get upset when they are treated like criminals without cause.  They don't come back again.  Others upon hearing of this kind of treatment, never come at all.  When someone is a screw-up they get prosecuted.  Leave everyone else alone.  My buying a lift ticket from you does not entitle you to search through my possessions.  If you insist that it does, I will insist on taking my $69 somewhere else to buy a lift ticket.  

Arapahoe basin is well within driving distance of every hotel that services Keystone.  When the road is clear, so is Loveland - who incidentally, had more trails open that Keystone on the 2 days included in the 36 event.

20071201.0824 I'm Back in the U.S.S.R.

I came to Keystone Mountain Report in Colorado for the Keystone 36 - a 36-hour long marathon skiing and snowboarding event. The first day was pretty great, considering the snow hasn't really fallen here yet. But they did a decent job of making it and the crowds weren't too dense.

Then the night came and so fell their version of the Iron Curtain. When all of the other lifts closed and only the gondola was running the police arrived and set up a security checkpoint where, in order to get on that gondola, you had to submit to being patted down like a criminal. This precipitated a 2 hour lift line for an 8 minute run. Hundreds if not thousands of people vying for the same trail and being searched.

The universally touted explanation was that there have in recent years been problems with people drinking too much and doing drugs. Apparently the solution is to not trust anyone and to treat everyone as though they were assumed guilty.

They didn't close their bars though - they were looking for people who brought their own bottles. If you wanted to drink a few margaritas the size of your head at Parrot Eyes and then go up - no one was stopping you unless you were belligerent or obviously lacked motor control. How anyone would NOT be belligerent after such an ordeal is beyond me.

And the crowd was packed with high school and college students, all of whom seemed to lack sobriety in one way or another. It was amateur hour in the extreme. I can only compare it to if someone magically transported the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade and a Burning Man festival to the same street in Singapore.

What drove me insane was the audacity of the organizers to introduce this pat-down procedure without notifying you when you bought your tickets and that everyone had to go through the procedure - this wasn't a random bag-check, it was compulsory invasion of privacy. It wasn't crowd control, it wasn't attempting to stop underage drinking nor drunk driving and it wasn't anything like as welcoming as when I bought my lift tickets & was handed 2 granola bars and a Ricola.

My advice is to avoid this scene like the plague. It should not be encouraged - it is a complete fiasco. I came here to RIDE, not to get roaring drunk nor to have my civil rights violated.


2007 2006