Category Archives: Inner Space

Old School Media Just Doesn’t Get It

So I’m sitting on the comfy couch last night watching Hitch as I’m folding clothes and sipping a glass of wine.  Halfway through the first hour, TNT decides to go to split screen with the baseball playoff that’s happening on TBS (with text which says as much).  Ok, a baseball game – whatever.  This split screen lasted a good minute or two while I’m trying to enjoy my movie – a chick flick.

The networks clearly didn’t understand who was their audience on the two channels.  If I wanted to watch the baseball game I would already be there – it’s not like it didn’t show up in the channel guide. Most of the audience watching Hitch is probably women who could care less about a baseball game.  The guys are probably already watching the game unless they’re sharing a nice moment with their SO. Who exactly are you trying to win over here?  And how many people did you annoy?  I would have backhanded the network if they were in the room……

A Blog Vacation

Sorry about the lack of content… after we got back from the Web 2.0 Conference, things started happening so fast around here that I haven’t even had a chance to digest everything from the conference or to write anything about it. We also got a welcome break with a week’s vacation in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. If you have a chance to get up there in the fall, I highly recommend it.

IT – Use the Force

  • NYTimes: Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out (Neal Stephenson)Scientists and technologists have the same uneasy status in our society as the Jedi in the Galactic Republic. They are scorned by the cultural left and the cultural right, and young people avoid science and math classes in hordes. The tedious particulars of keeping ourselves alive, comfortable and free are being taken offline to countries where people are happy to sweat the details, as long as we have some foreign exchange left to send their way. Nothing is more seductive than to think that we, like the Jedi, could be masters of the most advanced technologies while living simple lives: to have a geek standard of living and spend our copious leisure time vegging out.  If the “Star Wars” movies are remembered a century from now, it’ll be because they are such exact parables for this state of affairs. Young people in other countries will watch them in classrooms as an answer to the question: Whatever became of that big rich country that used to buy the stuff we make? The answer: It went the way of the old Republic.

While IT people already think of themselves as the Jedi of the world, a big part of the reason students are shunning tech fields is because of the lack of entry level jobs.  As the US outsources tech jobs to other countries, more experienced tech workers are forced to take lower pay and do more work.  Students in college see the low level of jobs and look elsewhere for a degree.

I think there is also a prevalent notion that every IT job is the same and that IT people are replaceable by each other.  If you know networks, you know programming and desktop support.  While IT fields are related by their platform (computers), they should be thought of as similar to medical specialities.  If you have a brain tumor, you want a neurologist to help you, not a general practioner or a heart specialist.  Since people view IT people as interchangeable, they think they can have fewer of them to do more varied work at less pay (because IT knowledge isn’t seen as valuable).

Creationism – An Excuse to Be Lazy

  • Richard Dawkins – Creationism: God’s gift to the ignorantThe creationists’ fondness for “gaps” in the fossil record is a metaphor for their love of gaps in knowledge generally. Gaps, by default, are filled by God. You don’t know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don’t understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don’t go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God. Dear scientist, don’t work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries for we can use them. Don’t squander precious ignorance by researching it away. Ignorance is God’s gift to Kansas.

The rise of this Creationism/Intelligent Design theory really bothers me – not that it is out there, because I think it always has been, but the fact that it has actually impacted the circulum at some schools.  Public schools are funded by public money and should teach issues which are based in the educational process which has been around since Socrates.  Our country was founded on the principle of freeedom of religion and separation of church and state, yet many want to ignore theese freedoms if they apply to their own agendas.  Teaching a religioiusly based theory (and I use the word theory lightly) in public schools puts children who are not of that belief system in a difficult place.  Using public funds to do so is even more of a travesty.  If you want to teach this to your kids, do it yourself, outside of school, and esspecially outside of a science class.

United States of America – The Motherland?

I was sitting down with a glass of wine and some Yo-Yo Ma to write a nice little story in the Inner Space section about the nice Mother’s Day I spent with my daughter.  I was, that is, until I saw a few blog entries on the National ID clause that has been tacked on to the latest military appropriations bill.  Like many of my fellow bloggers, I wholeheartedly agree that our military needs the best equipment possible, and we need to take care of our veterans and their families and those of our soldiers killed in the line of duty.  That said, things as important as the issue of a National ID should not be tacked onto a very important military appropriations bill.  The President would have us all believe this bill is for the good of the military, yet he has failed to mention the National ID clause in the bill.  Most of Congress is silent on the issue.  Come on Guys!  This isn’t Communist East Europe where you need papers to cross state borders.  We can’t even trust companies who make money on our personal information to keep it safe, how can we trust the government to keep safe such important information and trustguard it?  And to do all this without even a little good old fashioned debate?  What is becoming of this country?  THINK!  Everyone needs to think for themselves and investigate the bills this congress and President are trying to push through.  Be Patriotic – Think!

For more information on the Real ID clause and how to take action against it see www.unrealid.com and The EFFs Take Action page.

How to Finance the National Debt – AMT

AMT is Alternative Minimum Tax and it is an income tax that was put in in 1970 to make sure that people who were typically getting out of their burden of taxes in writeoffs actually had to pay their fair share.  What’s the problem?  The tax brackets were set without taking inflation into account and so are rapidly affecting more and more Americans.  The AMT does not allow you to include many normal deductions and may be owed on top of the regular income taxes.

  • Slate:  Bush’s Secret Tax on DemocratsRepublicans don’t want to fix the AMT because fixing the AMT would require undoing their beloved tax cuts. Without the billions generated by millions of taxpayers getting slammed by the AMT, the marginal rate cuts would be impossible to sustain for the next several years, let alone make permanent. Without the AMT, the deficit picture would look far worse than it does. This paper by Daniel Feenberg and James Poterba of the National Bureau of Economic Research projects $480 billion in AMT revenues between 2003 and 2010, with the AMT providing $125 billion in 2010. Gale and Burman estimate that repealing the AMT could cost the treasury $1.1 trillion through 2014, assuming the tax cuts are extended. The kicker: “By 2008, it would cost more to repeal the AMT than to zero out the regular income tax.”

My guess this is how the Bush Administration is planning on financing the Iraq war and many of the other deficit causing plans.  Plus the supposed income tax cuts are popular with the masses – at least until they (if they) figure out the real picture.