polemicist: a writer who argues in opposition to others  

20070327.1035 Insanely Great - Revisited

Last month I posted a link to something I thought was very important.  This month I'm going to post another link that takes the time to explain what's going on.  I can not stress this enough - there is a paradigm shift coming to computing.  I've seen them before and I know it when I see it coming.  This is it.

I lived through the advent of the personal computer, the addition of the floppy drive & ultimately the hard drive.  I saw the coming of pixel based graphics & later saw how the mouse changed the interface forever.  I saw the joystick give way to the control-pad.  I saw the coming of the digital camera, the digitization of audio & ultimately of video.  I saw real-time 3D graphics acceleration in hardware go from a dedicated customized subsystem to a standard issue video card.  I even saw Virtual Reality eat itself...

You could say that I've seen it all.  I've been in this industry for 30 years now.  Believe me when I tell you that this is important.  Pay attention.


 20070316.0852 Developmentally Challenged Nation

 "You get that right?  That our president is a Texas oil man & we're paying $3 a gallon for gas?  We are retarded." - Christopher Titus

I saw a TV commercial for a new product for children over the weekend.  I'm trying to remember the name but, there must be a strong mental block in place already...   Essentially it's a "coloring book" where you get one "marker" to scribble on the page with and when you do it goes from being a black & white outline to a fully shaded, professionally rendered color picture.   It almost popped a blood vessel in my brain.

What am I missing here?  I barely understand "regular" coloring books to begin with.  The inherent message of 'stay within the lines' is contrary to those of progress and the American spirit of revolution.  But going outside the lines was at least an option.

That a child could experiment with color in a creative way was part of the experience.  Giving people purple hair for example.  That's pretty dull to someone who's lived through the 80's, but to a child it's still very amusing.  And what exactly is wrong with that?  Is someone grading these things?

Perhaps you could sell me on the idea that coloring books are for developing eye-hand coordination in small children.  I can see that - to a point.  But if that's the reason - how do these 'revealer' oriented markers help you learn to do anything other than scribble furiously like you're working a coin's edge over a scratch-off lottery ticket?  

It comes down to this:  which would you rather display on your refrigerator?  Something your child actually created or something some corporation spoon-fed to the two of you?

"[...] These are my children, they match my couch [...]" - Dennis Leary


20070315.0911 Insurance Scams

 It's funny how when you hear the term "insurance scam" the first thought that pops into your head is someone defrauding an insurance company with a bogus claim.  I think this is how the insurance industry would like us to think.  It makes us worry about their bottom line instead of our own.  By 'our' I mean 'fellow consumers'.  As in Us.  As in Us against Them.  I mean, unless you are a stockholder in an insurance company then your bottom line is on the line only when you buy from them, no?

 I want to talk about the other side of Insurance Scams.  I want to talk about some of the scams that insurance companies pull in order to fleece us.  Keep in mind that the entire idea of insurance is selling an intangible product that is perishable.  You buy insurance to cover you in case you need a lot of money to deal with a major problem.  You get 'coverage' for a specified period of time and then it goes away and whatever money you paid in - that's gone.

Funny how no one calls it a 'confidence scam' when what they are in fact selling is 'confidence'.  That aside, this industry goes to great pains to find every way possible to practice every form of discrimination and bigotry possible that is still legal in order to make sure that they can sell their product to every person out there for a different price.  

All of this aside, what set me off this morning was an email from one of my credit card companies.  They're a bank.  They also sell you your credit report online.  That's a whole new industry that's deserving of it's own rant, so I'll ignore it.  However, in their weekly spam, they mentioned that Auto Insurance companies are now using your credit information to discriminate as well.

The idea is that people with bad credit report more accidents.  So if you have good credit you're going to get a better insurance rate now.  (Maybe it's been going on for a while & I just noticed... more likely)  I can only infer from my own life experience that the reason behind this statistic is actually driven by the insurance to begin with.

Picture this - you're in a parking lot & not paying full attention & someone else is driving too fast in said lot.  You pull out & don't anticipate anyone going that fast & you end up T-boning them.  Your fault, no way out.  You know damned well that if you submit a claim then the least of what will happen is that your rates get hiked.  More likely you're getting dropped by your company (for actually using your insurance - God forbid!) and in New York, USA at least, you're going into the 'assigned risk' category.  That's a group of people that no one wants to insure, but they have to, so all the companies take turns.  They don't get a choice & neither do you - so you have to pay whatever they say - no options.  Think $3k/year at least.

No matter how you slice it - it's a nightmare.  So, if you have the means, you pay out of your pocket to make the problem go away.  People with good credit usually are people with the means.  So you get a better rate if they know you're never going to make a claim...  Do you see what's going on here?

Why the hell would you have insurance & not use it?  I have it because there's a law that says I can be arrested if I'm driving with no insurance.  No license, no registration - that's a ticket.  No insurance - go directly to jail.  The industry's profits are more important to the State of New York than your ability to actually drive.  I see my insurance as being there for when people get hurt, not cars.  No way am I paying a medical bill out of pocket - not even my own.

So to recap, we've got state sponsored price fixing, discrimination, and collection.  (Referring to that lovely law that makes you pay a fine each day for having license plates in your possession if you have no insurance.)

 You know... Insurance in Oregon is optional & costs about $200/year.  Of course, you're statistically more likely to hit a TREE than anything else... so I guess it's all relative.


20070312.0947 Schnell!

Did you ever notice that March is the only month that is a command? 

I was listening to the radio the other day & there was a commercial that came on for the Above the Influence anti-drug campaign.  What confused me was the message.  It was something along the lines of  "I don't have to go along and pretend that I like something that I don't, like Indy Rock..."

What exactly does Indy Rock have to do with anything?  Is it an example?  I haven't heard them using other examples like Techno or Country..  Is there something specific about Indy Rock that I don't know about?  Is it that they're against the Independent aspect?  If the idea is that any corporate generated content will be devoid of anything that embraces alternative lifestyles and therefore anything independently generated is free of pre-filtering - ok then maybe that's the point?  Or is it?  What is it?

Is it that I shouldn't like or dislike anything because someone's telling me to?  Why are they telling me not to like it then?  Is this a test?  Is this reverse-logic advertising?  Is this the result of some Gen-X'er writing an ad campaign?


 20070306.0921 Clueless In Charge

I came across a couple of old articles that are interesting.  They delve into the concepts of competency & leadership.  In Why The Ignorant are Blissful the idea that only competent people can recognize competency is proposed.  No doubt that should make anyone working in HR a little nervous.   Then in Level 5 Leadership the personality of the most effective corporate leaders is profiled.  What becomes obvious there is that the most important qualities are usually the ones that are overlooked.

Put it all together and you have a goal for the qualities that you need to work on in order to achieve greatness and complete uncertainty as to if you'll ever get your shot.  That sounds a little dicey perhaps but you could always make the following arguments:

  • Real Opportunity is never found - it is created
  • Success itself is perhaps the greatest danger of all - if you are unprepared for it.

I believe that what is important to get out of these articles is the idea that Leadership Qualities are not widely understood - because most people aren't Leaders.  Most people are Followers.  Also that they key to being a good leader is not ego-centrism, but rather humility and unrelenting determination.


20070305.1325 Bloogle

So the original point of this BLOG was to try out the Google Technology stack.  So just for fun I've embedded a wee-bitty Asteroids game widget.  Have fun - Old School Style. 





20070305.1110 Saving Face

I am a snowboarder.  I'm from the Northeast.  Therefore I don't know how to ride in deep powder just as someone from Colorado doesn't know how to ride on ice.  This is a problem that a lot of my friends have.  This weekend I hit Suicide 6 and Ascutney with a friend who's a much better rider than I am.  The difference in our skill levels showed not if we wiped out - just how badly.  He did a face-plant into the hard crust covering of a deep powder run.  I dug myself out a few times on that one too.  I, on the other hand, managed to hit a tree with my face.  The powder was pristine and wicked deep in those trees.  Good thing too since I was moving very slowly at the time.  Not so much as a bruise - even though I did quote Dave Bowman from 2001 at the time:

"My God, It's full of stars...."

So here's the one thing I did manage to learn this season:

When there's fresh snow, don't go to a major resort.  Instead go to the smaller "local" mountains.  The conditions will be just as good & the beer just as cold but the lift ticket will be cheaper and there won't be any people.

 I'm never even going to contemplate buying a season pass again.  Killington is great at the beginning & ending of the season - because of those lovely snow-guns.  But the amount of people you need to wade through on most given days is ridiculous, so it's just not worth it.