I went to watch the much hyped movie today. I was prepared to be revolted, and I was. Not by the movie, or the story. It was well-told, powerful and moving.

I heard people chat idly about the theme appearing in other movies. I saw them smiling as they exited the theater, talking about the finer points of the plot. I saw them wearing nice clothes for an afternoon out.

In the movie I saw the people in The Capitol District chatting idly about the 'contestants'. I saw them smiling and cheering over the 'victory'. I saw them wearing their nicest clothes for the occasion.

I, for a long while, couldn't tell the difference.

That book (and the movie) were written as fiction. But I'm sure the author meant it as a mirror.

Do I vote for that one, or this one? Meaningless choices that we chatter about endlessly, trotting out our best justifications. Few brave enough to make the choice for what they want. The choices are an avoidance of risk, a choice based on fear, not on hope.

That was the choice presented to the two characters at the end of the movie. A choice they were encouraged to make based on fear. The whole system rigged for it. And they made the choice based on hope, the choice the system couldn't tolerate.

I feel like that's what our 'democracy' has degenerated to. A circus, a spectacle geared towards making each of us, individually, make a choice based on fear of what the other guy will do.

I was angry because of the movie. Upset, crying. The happy people around me... I didn't understand. A whole passel of children died on the screen. Horrible deaths, lives shortened needlessly in the service of the subjugation of a whole people.

It's a happy occasion. Time to put on your best stuff and chat idly about it with your friends. There is no mirror. There is no tragedy. The movie has no relevance beyond entertainment. A lie to cover the unbearable truth.

I was angry, I was saddened, and I was revolted.

Yeah, I know, preachy and overbearing. Listen to the message for a change instead of complaining about how it's presented. I too will go back to life as usual. But even a moment of solemnity and understanding of a shared predicament might have been nice.

Today, a comment I got really rankled me. My affection and desire for technologies that are not freedom hostile was called a 'religious issue'. This trivializes my desire, and makes it seem like someone has to 'drink the kool-aid' to think the issue is real. And that's insulting.

I find this particularly upsetting given how many people rallied to defeat SOPA. Do people not understand the end goal here? Do you really want your technologies to decide for you which websites you're allowed to see, what you can read, what you can hear? Because ignoring freedom when making technology choices is marching down that very road.

Oh, those companies, they'll never do that. But, they will. Maybe they don't even realize they will. But that kind of lockdown and control is so very economically attractive that companies will march there inexorably unless it's clear that's not a direction we want to go in.

And your choices affect me. Whenever you make a choice against freedom, you're affecting my ability to make that choice. It is possible to make technology that works and is convenient, but doesn't rob you of your freedom. But every time you vote with your dollars against such technology, every time you decide this feature or that feature is worth giving up some of your freedom, you're encouraging companies to dangle shiny toys in exchange for your freedom. In fact, you're encouraging them to only provide the shiny toys if you (and I) give up our freedom to get them. It's like giving in to a toddler who throws tantrums.

I recognize that different people make different choices for their own reasons. And I'm fine with them making those choices. But I will not pass up any opportunity to inform them of the effect of their choice on themselves, and on me.

They want to charge me $40/yr per domain for secondary DNS! $40/yr! This is completely ridiculous. With the volume of lookups I get, I could probably host all the domains on my own server on a DSL line if I wanted.

Is anybody out there willing to provide secondary DNS for a few domains for me? I'm willing to cough up the equivalent of $10/yr in bitcoins for the service if you really want.

Suicide is so common in Chinese iPad factories that the company has taken to forcing prospective employees to sign no-suicide pacts.

Talk about treating the symptom instead of the disease.

A friend of mine has pointed out that this story is made to seem a lot worse than it really is. In particular the suicide at Foxconn plants is much lower than it is at other similar facilities in China. He is also not much of a fan of Apple the company, so he doesn't have a fanboy bias. I'm not completely sure I agree with this way of looking at things, but here is what he wrote, so you can make up your own minds:

This story has been highly sensationalized. The reality is almost exactly the opposite of what you read.

  1. Eighteen Foxconn employees committed suicide in 2010 [1]... out of 920,000 workers [2]. That's a rate much lower than the Chinese average of 66 per million [3], which itself is like half of the American average of 111 per million [3].
  2. Apple is just one of many Foxconn clients. Others include Amazon (Kindle), Intel, Dell, Nintendo, Sony, Samsung, and many others [2]. Apple products are a small minority of Foxconn's output, yet the media calls them the "iPad factory". This is obviously intended to sensationalize the story -- scandal involving Apple is much more interesting that scandal involving Samsung.

I suspect that Foxconn came up with these no-suicide pledges in a desperate attempt to placate the media, and due to cultural differences they don't understand that to the American audience it only makes them look worse.

Normally XKCD is amusing for very positive reasons. But I frequently feel a lot like the guy with the beard in this cartoon. It's really frustrating. So, today's XKCD is darkly amusing to me. Freedom is such a hard sell before people lose it. People choose convenience every time, frequently until it's almost too late to fix the problem all the while berating the people who were worried in the first place.

Infrastructures

This was a Slashdot comment, but I think it deserves a top level post here. It's in response to Apple’s attack on Adobe Flash, it’s all about online video NOT. (I added the 'NOT' because that's the author's conclusion.)

Pot calls kettle black, kettle complains, but it's just as black.

Flash is a despicable disgrace. Most of the time when I talk to a Flash developer, the thing they're the happiest about is the control they get over my computer. This is directly because the Flash player is a piece of garbage closed source tool that purposely caters to developers over end-users. The Open Source gnash (not ganash) player has an option to pause a Flash program. The Adobe player will never, ever end up with that option, ever. Giving me control over my own computer is against Adobe's best interest. That makes Adobe's Flash player is little more than a widely deployed trojan horse that, IMHO, is little better than spyware (Flash cookies anyone? Where's my control over those?).

I wouldn't complain so bitterly about this if the gnash player were actually a decent drop in replacement for the closed source Flash player, but it isn't. I have to either choose my freedom to have my computer do what I want instead of what some random corporation wants with Flash that is broken most of the time, or Flash that works while giving up my freedom. I will choose my freedom, thank you very much, but I will be bitter about the stupid choice I'm forced to make.

So, when one maker of a closed, proprietary platform that steals people's freedom purposely does things to the detriment of another closed proprietary platform that steals people's freedom, I can't help but cheer. And I hope Adobe finds a way to play nasty games with Apple too. The more these two companies can find ways to hurt eachother, the more the rest of us benefit.

If Adobe Open Sourced the Flash player (I could care less about the developer tools, they will end up with Open Source implementations no matter what Adobe does if the player is truly open) my objections to Flash would completely disappear. I could realistically choose a fully functional Flash player and I'm certain I could find one with a pause button, or one that refused to store cookies for longer than a week. I could make it myself if I wanted to.

And lest you tell me that I'm just whining, the majority of large sites out there no longer look right without Flash. By not using Flash, I'm cut off from a significant part of the experience of the web. I shouldn't be forced to give up control of my computer in order to browse the web. That's a completely and utterly ridiculous assertion.

From what I've heard, the new health care bill will impose fines on people who don't have health insurance. Is this true? If it is, I'm tempted to refuse my employers health insurance plan on general principles.

I'm ambivalent about the idea of such a bill in the first place. I wanted Obama elected in the hopes that he'd fix things like the influence of lobbyists and money and restore civil liberties and have a more open and accountable government. Health care was really low on my list of priorities, and I was nearly certain I wasn't for any kind of solution that involved perpetuating the stupidity that is the current health insurance system.

Unfortunately, Obama seems to be standing still or going backwards on all the things I really care about. For example, his administration has refused significantly more FOIA requests than the previous one.

I'm rather disappointed.

Case in point, the Net::IP module. The documentation looks nice. It handles IPv6 and IPv4 addresses. It looks clean and simple.

Then, I decided I would like to be able to have IPv4 mapped IPv6 addresses match the IPv4 address ranges I'm singling out for special treatment. So I look into its tool for extracting an IPv4 address from an IPv6 address.

The call, ip_get_embedded_ipv4 doesn't seem to work on IPv6 addresses created with 'new'. It only works on IPv6 addresses represented as strings. This leads me to dive into the implementation.

I discover that the is no coherent internal representation. Just a lot of different attributes that are used at different times for different purposes and are converted from one another as needed.

Additionally, there appears to be no way to import particular symbols of certain classes from the module. You have to import them using the import statements specified in the documentation or take your chances on whether or not it will work. This is because the import mechanism and which symbols are global or not is handled in a fairly ad-hoc sort of way and re-implemented in each module according to the whims of the author.

It's really quite surprising the module works at all. And I'm left feeling like I really ought to re-write it if I want something I can count on.

In reality, looking at the module's implementation was a mistake. This is always what happens to me when I look at a perl module. Either it works in a completely mysterious way using language mechanisms I've never seen used before, or it works in a way that's totally broken and practically guaranteed to break for any use that varies from the specific use-cases described in the documentation. Frequently both are the case. Aigh! Run away!

I hope I can convince my new workplace to stop using perl.

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