Saturday, October 14, 2017

What I Do Not Understand About the Harvey Weinstein Story

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Harvey Weinstein has been unveiled as a sexual predator and his career is ruined. I am a little cynical that this gets at the level of sexual abuse that I think is prevalent in the motion picture industry, but beyond that, there is something odd about this story that I do not understand.

As I understand it, when one is powerful and wealthy in the entertainment industry (music, film, television), it is not hard to get laid, if that is all you want to do. Attractive men and women make themselves available, so the story goes. This is not true love of course, and there is always a price to pay, I have heard, and one needs to be so careful where one plays these days, but if all you want is sex, then sex is available.

In other words, I dont get it. I dont get why Mr. Weinstein needed to be a sexual predator unless it is the specific people (actresses, etc) that he wanted to bang rather than merely beautiful women in general. Maybe all it means is that Mr. Weinstein is a sick fuck, something we knew already.

Thank you for letting me share my confusion.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Message To My Congress Person 10/12/2017

Dear Congressman Hunter,

Well we certainly are in a pickle, arent we, sir? What a time you have chosen to be in politics!

Although I realize you are a devout Republican, I am in your district, I am a voting citizen, and I am hopping mad about our loonytoon so-called President. In fact, I have never been so mad about anything political in my life, and I have been involved in the process before.

So what to do?

Well, its really not clear. But at the least I can write my congress person and politely but firmly request that you impeach that son-of-a-bitch as soon as possible, if not sooner. And since Pence is definitely compromised, he has to go too.

Remember if you dont do it soon, you may end up with Nancy Pelosi as president.

Yours very sincerely,
MW



Thursday, October 5, 2017

Predicting the Future of Gun Control after Las Vegas

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It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.

But some things are easy and this is one of them. The NRA and Congress will use the “bump stock” as a sacrificial scape goat to avoid doing anything real about gun control. They will regulate the bump stock, or possibly even outlaw it, and call it a day.

No real issues will be addressed. No problems will be solved. Cowardice and stupidity will reign. The can will be kicked down the road one more time.

Business as usual.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Minimum Necessary in the Current Situation


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The time and emotional issues of getting ready to move by the end of the year, of getting any academic applications in before the end of the year, and other things, has meant that I can not spend as much time on this blog as I would like.

From time to time, however, short notes will be posted, if for no other reason than to remind me to go back and do a better, more reasoned, hopefully more humorous treatment of a topic.

Today's short note is my concise opinion for what has to be done to restore democracy and legitimacy to this country. It is the second issue, legitimacy, that is the most tricky and the most controversial. Every government that has ever existed has at one time or another done something that violates its laws, its ethics and the trust it has with the people. We understand that.

But what the politicians and some people do not understand is that you can not do that indefinitely without severe consequences. And the consequences are that the government loses legitimacy in the eyes of the people.  The people no longer believe you, their representatives, that you are representing them. They no longer trust the government to do the right thing. They believe that their government has been captured by the wealthy, that justice is for the rich, and that the system is corrupt.

The point is, you only have to address these problems if you want a country where people trust their government, pay their taxes, obey the laws and fight the wars.

Briefly, this is the minimum I think that has to happen after 30 years or more of betrayal and kicking the can down the road. Everything below is self explanatory.

1. We need to change the constitution to define when an election is invalid and what to do about it. In this case, we have an election that was thrown by a foreign power and resulted in a person who was not elected and who is the least qualified president in our history. We need a way to declare an election invalid and hold another one.

2. We probably need to eliminate the electoral college. Twice in my life time, for a minimum of three presidential terms of office (two under Bush and one under Trump) a person has been put into the office of the presidency who did not, in the opinion of the people, win that election.

3. We need a way to ensure that officials of an administration obey the letter and the spirit of the law. We currently have a head of the EPA that is doing everything possible to see to it that the environmental laws and protections in this country are either not obeyed or destroyed. We have an Attorney General and a department of Justice which is defunding enforcing the laws that protect people's civil rights.

4. We need to have a change in the constitution to make clear what the issues are involving conflict of interest, and what needs to be done before someone is allowed to take office. Full financial transparency and such issues as tax returns being public need to be made explicit.

5. We need a way that is less traumatic to remove people in the judiciary who have been appointed by an administration that is later shown to have been invalid. Between the invalid election of Trump and McConnell breaking the law, we have the right wing nutty boy, Gorsuch, on the court and bigots and right wing nuts being appointed to other posts in the judiciary. We need a way to remove these people.

6. We need to regulate our social media and hold them responsible for their role in allowing foreign intelligence agencies to disrupt and destroy our ability to hold public discourse. That means officers of a company need to go to jail when they have failed to protect us.

7. We need to make countries such as Russia and to a lesser extent the PRC know that their espionage and disruption of our civic discourse is a cause for war.

8. We need to end gerrymandering for political purposes.

9. We need to have national standards for how an election is held, and how the results can be verified.

This is the minimum that needs to be done, in my opinion. But only if you care about people believing that they live in a fair and just country. If you dont care, then we can continue on this path and our country will be, or already has been, destroyed.

No government is perfect, but in our case we have let things go too far.  Business as usual clearly has failed us.  I hope that our politicians and political elite understand this and do something about it, but I doubt they will.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Climate Change Denial and Crimes Against Humanity

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At what point does global climate change denialism become a crime against humanity?

Furthermore, does a "crime against humanity" actually have any real legal meaning or is it more precious, politically correct bullshit from organizations such as the United Nations and therefore have no merit whatsoever  (see for example the "Zionism == Racism" or the Temple Mount has nothing whatsoever to do with Judaism bullshit)?

At what point is it recognized that the last election was invalid because of the intervention of a foreign intelligence operation? Does failure to acknowledge and address this issue make the so-called democratic process in this country a transparent fraud?

Many Americans, all of whom are wealthy and powerful, I notice, seem to believe that they can accept any corruption, and obvious criminal act, and still expect to have the American people support their corrupt system as if it was democratically elected.  What if that ceases to be the case?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fashion Week 2017 in New York

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I was discussing Fashion Week in NYC with Ken Perlin and the recent trends in models to come from Eastern Europe or the Midwest. In both cases it was noted the high percentage of genetic material from Northern Europe which results in very tall, very slender women, at least when they are young.

As I read more about these trends and the issue of moral responsibility as poor, young women from the former Soviet Union literally starve themselves to death, starve themselves to fainting, throw themselves into hooking to make ends meet, resort to surgery to reduce weight, an industry observer, Emma Nussbaum, made the following observation:

A large number of the dominant fashion designers are homosexual men with pederastic interests and they insist that their female models lean toward the looks of boys in their early adolescence, which requires a very thin and lanky appearance, and the tall and masculine girls willing or forced to starve themselves to present such looks are going to disproportionately come from regions comprising of a large number of poor individuals with a Northern European appearance.

So I thought about that for a moment.

 Oh, I said.




You can read the rest of her comments here:




Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Restoration of Dr. Strangelove and the Triumph of the Free Market

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Growing up in America, I have been trained to believe that the “free market” solves all problems. That the invisible hand will inevitably lead to an equilibrium position that will be the optimal use of resources. Like any good cult, we are also taught to disregard any data or example that contradicts the central tenets. Any such example must be shown to be invalid because the free market is always right.

I have an excellent example here where the free market is one more time proven to not only find the optimal solution, it actually finds the only possible solution that could be acceptable to a right thinking American. No disgusting socialism or wooly thinking for us! The free market is always right.

Once upon a time, Stanley Kubrick attempted to put together a new print of his classic Dr. Strangelove: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). The film is a classic of black and white cinematography and Kubrick was tasked to put together the best possible set of prints for a rerelease sometime long after the original release.

But he discovered that what should have been a straightforward task was not because the original negative of the film no longer existed. To explain this, I have to explain something about how distribution prints for film used to be made.

The way this used to work was this: when you have finished editing a film, you cut the various elements of the film together into an original negative. From this original negative, which you hope to touch as little as possible, you then create an interpositive (IP) and from that an internegative (IN). From the IN you strike as many prints as you need for exhibition.

Eventually the IN wears out, and then you strike another IN from the IP. In this way, you never touch the original negative any more than you absolutely have to. But this costs money you see, not much money, but money. So when the IN would wear out, instead of striking another IN from the IP, the studio (?) would save a few bucks by just cutting out the relevant parts of the neg and adding it to the IN and strike more prints. Which means that the original negative no longer existed, and the best that Kubrick could do was to go back to the IP.

In order to save a few thousand dollars, the original and best version of one of the classics of Western cinema was destroyed. As well it should have been. Nothing is more sacred than the profits issued to the shareholders. To even consider otherwise is sacrilage.

The idea that there are still morons out there who actually think that the profit-motive should have anything to do with cultural legacy or any other value driven topic, such as health care, education and justice, is clearly a person who has been driven mad by ideology and has nothing to contribute to the political process.

Looking to Rent a Monk's Cell




Sunday, September 3, 2017

Facebook Thinks We Are Worthless Scum

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I mentioned on Facebook (called FB so that we do not activate the incredibly annoying text recognition feature) how FB did not seem to mind changing the user interface whenever the fuck they wanted no matter how stupid the changes were and how much it inconvenienced their users.

And a friend pointed out that this was a completely valid thing for them to do and I was being wrong to complain because we are not paying for the service.

In fact, he said, this is the way it should be in the future because users are scum and we should choke down on that dick..

I think my friend is right, after all, FB only makes about $500 billion on us useless scum.




Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Knowing When to Retreat

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In the battle for public opinion, controlling the message is everything.

The issue of memorializing the Confederacy, an issue which is fraught with problems, was lost the moment the alt-right, the neo-Nazis and the KKK attached themselves to the process.

Whether or not these memorials are and must be to celebrate racism is no longer relevant. They are seen that way by too many people.

The fact is that racism persists in this country, just about everywhere. Its pernicious, its real, it penetrates our country in subtle and overt ways. Until that issue is dealt with, and I doubt it will be anytime soon, then the Confderacy becomes the great symbol of the struggle against racism unfinished.

The cause of commemorating those who fought and died to defend their home against invasion is not tenable at this time. Lets put these monuments and source materials in archive, underground, or in a warehouse somewhere, with museum-quality care. One day we will pull them out and have an exhibit.

But not for a long time.



Monday, August 21, 2017

Value of a Psychiatrist in our Late Capitalist Society

A friend, who is aware of the stress I am going through, suggested I go see a psychiatrist he knows down here. The good news is that my friend wants to help. The bad news are the details, so lets go through it.

I think my friend knows all this, by the way.

The short version is to skip to item 10.

1. The doctor he recommends is an adult psychopharmacologist, I already have a psychopharmacologist. About six months ago, I was thinking of changing, but now I plan to stick with the one I have until I leave the area at the end of the year. (This particular recommended psychopharmacologist is also semi-retired and expensive).

2. Psychopharmacologists are good for one thing, prescribing drugs, period. My psychopharmacologist already prescribes the maximum of the drugs I intend to take. (Note: I would take more if I could, but I cant, so I have to deal with that).

3. There is a more general kind of shrink called “a therapist”. Some of them can prescribe drugs, some dont. In my experience, they are useful for one thing: the rent-a-pal phenomenon. When you talk to a shrink once a week, you tend to lean less on your friends for moral support. This is valuable! But time consuming and expensive.

4. Doctors cost money. I dont have the money to spare.

5. The money could be spent on many other things, like travelling to Sf to see an ex girl friend. That might cheer me up more than any doctor.

6. The problems I deal with at this time of life comes from trauma experienced in my 30s and afterwards. That trauma results in anxiety attacks today when I am not in control of where I live or how I am going to afford to live.

7. Therefore, if you want to help, and my friends do want to help, you should listen and say something cheerful, or (this is much more difficult....) you should help me find a job, or arrange for a place for me to live, or give me money or introduce me to someone who can. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done, especially in today's world.

8. We live in a corrupt, late-capitalist society. Money is necessary to solve problems. Shrinks are a tool which used judiciously, can be helpful. But, like lawyers, they are not a panacea and they run on money. At the end of the day, money may not buy happiness, but money, or a steady job, or both, will buy stability and some satisfaction. This is not the only path but it is a good one and very straightforward.

9. I recognize that most people can not provide this help for their friends, or when they do, only in very limited amounts. I have sampling error here. There was a time when I could give people jobs, two different times in fact, but those times are past for me and may have never existed for my friends. Your good wishes and thoughts are appreciated.

10. But the biggest mistake here is to think that doctors are good for anything and the patient knows nothing, even after a life time of dealing with this.

11. Send money!  Just kidding, sortof.  Thank you!


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Scenario 1 for Post December (On the Road before School)

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version 1.0

I have to leave where I am living by the end of December.

The standard "tourist visa" for a European country is 3 months (needs to be verified). Moving always destroys my ability to work, and causes panic attacks. The latter can be managed, the former not so much.  If I can make the numbers work, I might look at spending three months in 4 countries, 3 months each, a total of one year.  I am a neo-luddite so I dont use craigs list very much, although it is a very useful resource, generally speaking.

This is all financed by $1450 $US / month early social security and some small savings which if used with care is intended for this purpose. For example, maybe $3,000 per country (e.g. for a 3 month period) to pick up air travel and other extraordinary expenses on top of room, board, internet, etc, which would come off Social Security

There is some hope that after that I might settle in a beautiful but abandoned part of the world like Western Mass.

I am applying for a masters degree in CS between now and December. I would apply for a PhD directly, but I dont think I have the recommendations which in my estimation are required. It would also be productive to pick up an MFA, or a Dr. of Theology, or a law degree, or even that PhD in computer science. This is all paid for by govt loans.  Which means that they would deduct from my social security, damn them, to pay the loans back.  I dont know if the US education loans would cover a European university, but if it did, that would be a possibility.

While on the road, I would continue to write my blog and try to make progress on one or both books.

As of now, the only thing that is certain is that I am staying here through the first of the year and that I am applying to graduate school.  

Thank you for listening.

Comments are welcome.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Problem(s) With Assassinating Kim

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There is lots of discussion in the media and on the Internet about assassinating the leader of N. Korea, Kim Jong-Un.

Lets review some of the reasons why this is probably a bad idea.

First, in our modern world, assassination can be hard to do. Kim, like all good modern leaders and revolutionaries under threat, has many hardened hiding places. If he is following standard protocol, he is never sleeping in the same place for two nights running. He also never chooses where he will sleep that night until the last possible moment, and as few people as possible know. If you do decide to attack *all* his hiding places at once in an effort to kill him, you have to attack them simultaneously, because if he gets a hint of what is up, he will be on the move at once and go deep.

Second, as they say, if you attack a King, you had better kill him. If you just wound him or miss him, you are just going to piss him or her off and you are likely to be sorry. In the case of Korea, if Kim goes to war, Seoul is within conventional artillery range of some of N. Korea's artillery. He doesnt even need nuclear weapons to kill a lot of people (millions, by most guesses).  Much of this artillery is hardened against air attack, and dispersed.

Third, historically, assassination is rife with unanticipated results, so you had better have a good plan up front and plans of this type are likely to go bad. I am under the impression that the CIA coup in Iran was not necessarily intended to put the Shah into power despite what you read on the Internet. The plan was to put a military Junta into power, with maybe the Shah as a figurehead, but I could be wrong about this. For a more certain example in history, note that the assassination of Julius Caesar did not really work out for either the conspirators or the Roman Republic.

Although I certainly think that “decapitation” is a strategy that does have merit, it is not always a good idea and one has to be very good at it.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Email to Larry Schnur about my Bicycle Progress

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I find it useful to report to you (and sometimes to my blog) my progress.

About 5 days a week I go about 2 - 3 miles.

Almost but not quite street legal.

Only ride at night, on mostly deserted roads.

Wear helmet, knee pads, gloves.

Getting better at getting on my bike.

Still very unstable in terms of steering when a variety of things happen such
that I get off my bike when cars are around.

Bought a cheap scale to measure my weight.

My general impression is that I am getting better, things are improving, and this is
valuable. I am way out of breathe when I finish for the night.

At this rate it will be a year to six months before I get close to Palomar, but I am
ok with this.

Thanks for listening! (Yes its a little weird but I am totally isolated here and so it
nice to have someone to talk to).

Thanks,

MW

Notes to New Readers of Global Wahrman

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For those who are new to reading this blog a few notes are in order. Those who are regular readers already know this stuff.

First, not all posts are of equal quality, I tend to like about one in three. The others are probably worth reading, at least I certainly hope so, but probably would not be collected into a “best of globalwahrman ....”.

Second, I think I know how to write but not all of you will agree with that. Grammar Nazis especially are warned. I grew up in Virginia and at the RAND Corporation and I have a developed style. If you think I am offending the English language through my misuse of hung vs hanged feel free to tell me, but dont hold your breathe for satisfaction.

Third, I tend to be more negative than most people care for. Some of these negative posts are deleted later if I think they are too negative. But not all.

Fourth, I love comments, even if I am slow to process them. Please comment away.

Fifth, the primary goal of this blog is to be entertaining. Beyond that it is also my autobiography, my forum about the history of computer animation, my cenotaph and my forum for complaining.  I also review Esoteric Knowledge.

Sixth, I am occasionally obscene or use obscene language.

Seventh, I hope to be honest, or as honest as I can be, about my difficult life, about our difficult world, even if that doesnt always make me look good.  It is my hope that by discussing these issues that it may be of some help to others.

I hope you will read this blog, now, in the future, in the past, whenever.

I love my readers, whoever you are.

It may also be useful to read The Standard Disclaimer.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Esoteric Truth About Stuff, Revealed

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Who is to know when the truth is revealed? The slaves have been told lies so many times, that the truth seems to them to be just another lie.

On a train from Oceanside to Los Angeles, there are the four of us. The doctor, the car dealer turned volunteer drug rehabilitation assistant, the very quiet Black man. Behind us, the electrician, the young woman who wants to be heard, the friend of the Bentley owner who wants his hat, and myself.

But really it is the three of us, the doctor, the car dealer, and me. The car dealer runs Bentley dealerships in Del Mar and Los Gatos, he owns houses in three cities. He volunteers 3 days a week at a drub rehab hospital. At one point he reveals to me the eternal truth that explains all.

"There is not enough stuff to go around", he says, sadly. "That is the problem".

The esoteric truth that lies behind our corrupt politics has been revealed to us, here, in plain English. Now you know.  Some must be rich and many poor because there is not enough stuff.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

After Siggraph, Dream with Female Rescue Divers

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I had a long complicated dream that I was on a boat with female rescue divers. They practiced diving from the high board on the main deck of the ship and dived very, very deep. There was more of a practice board about half way down the hull for people like me to dive from. And of course there was very little danger because you were surrounded by rescue personnel. 

The images below are not really illustrative, but they are what I can find with Google without too much trouble.  In my dream, we were all on a ship, and I do not remember much in the way of scuba gear. Therefore you should see these images as placeholders until I can get more appropriate images, if ever.









This was the day after Siggraph.

I slept all day, it is hot here.

I tried to send a few thank you notes from my phone, while lying in bed.

I was of course very sad when the dream was over.



Friday, August 4, 2017

Negative No More Not Ever

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God only knows I would not want to be negative or come off as bitter.  So to that end, I am going to revisit the last few months of posts and attempt to recreate them into happy and pleasant.  If you read anything negative then that is before the rewrite and you should ignore it.

I mean we are all doomed anyway, why not be positive and cheerful?  What are they going to do, not hire us?


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Notes Before Siggraph 2017

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It is a tradition of Global Wahrman to write a post as I am running and late for Siggraph.

The disadvantage of course is that it is going to be pretty rough until I can get back and edit it. The advantage is that it usually expresses something that is important to me that I only realize (or feel like talking about) when under stress.

So here is (are) some of the problems in a nutshell.

On the one hand I want to show new work. It is important for that new work to be of sufficient interest and currency to catch people's attention, and yet also fit. When I am able to show new work of sufficient quality or promise then I will feel much better and it is likely that things will be better in a number of ways.

So what is the problem? The problem is not coming up with an idea. I have plenty of good ideas, I think many people do. The problem is picking one idea, picking the right idea, and somehow come up with an idea that fits the time and resources available.

Every year I go to Siggraph and find confirmation that some of my ideas are good enough to be published. But would I have had the resources to execute that idea? Would I have the ability to focus given the incredibly unstructured environment I find myself in?

The answer so far has been no, unfortunately.



Sunday, July 16, 2017

Trump Demands Warm UK Welcome

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I find it impossible to work with Trump as president. I can not keep myself from glancing at the world news and everytime I do, I am humiliated and offended. It is beyond my capability to function, to solve the problems of my life while my country goes down the gutter into the sewage of this moron's brain and, let us not forget, his Republican and Democratic enablers.

Even worse, because this stupid moron has “owned” some basic issues, such as anti-globallization that means that not even competent and compasionate politicians who wanted to deal with this issue can not. Of course I am not sure that there are any competent and compassionate politicians but if there were they would not be able to.

But OK, so now what do we have today. Why we have the report that Trump has demanded that Teresa May “fix” any UK visit so that Trump gets a big old hearty we love you welcome or we wont show up. Well, golly, Trump baby, maybe that means you need to stop being such a stupid asshole, what do you think?






Watchmen Porn

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For years I avoided seeing the Watchmen superhero movie, because I hated the graphic novel in the 1980s. A friend made me see it as part of our remedial superhero study group and guess what, I really hated the movie. But I was surprised that she would appreciate the rape scenes so much and the sexist representation of women if that is indeed what it is.

For me, it is the latex garter belt that really sells this outfit.  

Maybe there is hope after all.





Friday, July 14, 2017

Decisions, Decisions

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Which topic should I write about? "Russia has been 100 percent successful at exposing the hyporicisy at the heart of American democracy" or "What could be more important than making another Spiderman movie"?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Stealing Money on the Internet

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What is sad about this is that one day I really will have a friend in need but I wont believe him or her because of these criminals.

I blame #45 for this.





And yes, Karen Fox has contacted me and confirmed that she is OK and that this is a spam.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Verizon Data Leakage, Should Congress Act?

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Should Congress be forced to make it illegal for corporations to grossly fail to protect their customer's privacy? That of course should not be necessary, because by 2017 we have had so many gross violations of privacy due to corporate incompetence and since we are all aware of foreign intelligence services as well as international crime organizations working to collect such data (and other forms of IP) to use against Americans, that even a stupid moron, yes, even an American Corporation should know that they have a responsibility to work with diligence and skill to protect their customers' data, in particular their customer's passwords.

So what are we to make of the latest Verizon failure to (a) protect this data and (b) when notified by an outside firm of this exposure of customer data, failing to take the steps necesssary to protect the data in a timely fashion?

The facts in the case are that Verizon did not discover the breach, an outside firm did. The problem was that a Verizon subcontractor had maintained a complete database of Verizon's wireless customers, their user ids, personal information and, crucially, their PINs / passwords, in a cloud file that was open for reading by anyone. How the subcontractor could have made such a mistake is unknown, but the responsibility does not lie with them, it lies with Verizon to see that their customer's data is secure.

But even worse, is that when notified of the problem, it took two weeks, from June 8 to June 22, to correct the problem. And furthermore, correcting the problem was, in this case, relatively easy. You just protect the file on the cloud (in terms of who has read access to it) or you remove the file from the cloud. Now in the long run you may have to do something more sophisticated to achieve some larger corporate goal, but in the short run, just remove the file.

Since Corporate America has failed to take the steps necessary to protect Americans, it is up to Congress to improve the incentives to perform. A simple and probably effective way to do this is to put the senior executives of the corporation in prison for a period of correction, so that they can learn new and better skills to help them fit into society. I would think that a top executive, the CEO or COO, would require a healthy 10 or 20 years in prison, except in extreme cases.

In this case, though, a lesser penalty will probably be applied. The senior executives will probably be forced to accept a pay raise and a 7 figure bonus. This is America after all.

Here is a report on the Verizon data leakage


Friday, July 7, 2017

Trump, Civilization and the Second Coming of the Christ

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I am sure I speak for all Americans when I say how proud I am to have a vulgar sexist and bully represent us to the world.  And how beautiful that this moron would call for a vigorous defense of civilization when it is this piece of garbage and his venal friends who are themselves destroying civilization, at least here in America..

How wonderful it is to be demeaned and disgraced in front of the world. Any foolish pride we may have had reduced to the banal by this moron and his supporters, the Republicans, the soldiers who fight for God. But I wonder, what is left for #45 to achieve, having ascended to the very pinnacle of history as leader of western civilization? What is next? Perhaps he would consider becoming the Bishop of Rome, yes to ascend to the throne of St. Peter, or perhaps even reveal himself as the second coming of the Christ, the Murdered God who opens a Door back to God.

Who else could forgive us for our sins?

Monday, July 3, 2017

My Jeffrey Katzenberg Memo Part 1 (Do Good Work and You Will Be Rewarded)

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Once upon a time, Jeffrey Katzenberg wrote a 28 page memo describing how he thought the industry was changing and by implication his mistakes of the recent past (or so it was reported at the time). I am not Jeffrey Katzenberg and this will not be a 28 page memo. It will however be a series of posts from time to time in which I describe some mistakes made that have gotten me where I am today. Many of these mistakes are intertwined, and have assumptions that may seem odd based on what we know today.  Some of these posts will also describe decisions I made later that I believe accurately describe reality (e.g. where the industry is going) but which may or may not be a mistake given that there are no alternatives.

The people who were involved with computer animation early felt (or some of us felt) that we had something to prove. People who mattered did not believe that computer animation would work or be worth anything. We are talking about the early 1980s here. If you do not understand that, then stop reading, because you will not be able to understand anything else I say.

So a bunch of us decided that we would prove that it did work and would do great things. There were a variety of nests of such people, several of them in LA, some in N. California, some in NY, some in Europe, etc. All of these people made sacrifices to be in this field, or at least most of them did.

I felt that I had a chance to have an impact early on and I decided to take that chance. I knew that unlike what later became Pixar, that we did not have the cash or the management to do this really well, but I figured that people would give us slack because of our good will and the situation. I figured that people would say, well if they could do this with $1.50, just think what they could do if they had real resources. It was also the case that none of this would have been possible if people (companies) had not supported us. In my case, this meant little consulting projects and genuine access to expensive hardware and other resources. At the time I knew that we could not rely on this for the future, but the hope was that we would do good work, deliver marketing value for our benefactors, and then hopefully things would become self financing.

To repeat, the fundamental assumption was that people would recognize our work, give us credit for it, and allow us to move to the next level when real projects and real capital became available. Well, it turns out that this is not what happened. We proved that things worked, but moving forward people did not give us credit for out work, many of us were not hired, we were no longer given the access to equipment or consulting (e.g. cash flow) that we had before.

So now, when people say, why not just do new work, my response is that when you are completely impoverished that is not a possibility. When you have no access to resources, you have to buy everything, and when you have no money that is not going to happen. Furthermore, every door slammed in my face 20 years ago.  Why that is, or was, is a long story and it is not very pleasant but it comes down to money. Some famous Greek once said, there is no person so brilliant that extreme poverty will not silence them. You were supposed to hire us, but you didnt.

Too bad, my mistake, I guess.

But this is not the entire story.  Some of us were not hired for reasons that are, in my opinion, problematic, but reasons nevertheless.  We will go over what some of these reasons are in a later post. Its not all "bad people failing to recognize our genius", there are other factors at work.

Neverthless, now when someone says “you must do a demo to prove that you can do this work” I laugh, bitterly. Been there, did that, didn't work. I would rather make a new mistake, rather than repeat an old one.

____________________________________________


It turns out that this memo from Jeffrey was not a reflection on past mistakes, although that is how it was presented in the industry press that I read.  It was instead something else, as is completely obvious from reading it, which you may do here:

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2011/11/some-thoughts-on-our-business.html

Non Reply Reply from Representative Hunter (CA-50)


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After my fourth electronic message (and one voice mail) I got a response from my representative. It seems oddly to start out as if they actually read my messages (which I doubt). Could it be that they have an assistant do a topic sentence and then supply the boilerplate body of the letter? Or is it all boilerplate? Or am I being too cynical?

Here is the letter.



This letter really alerted me to how much I dislike this man's politics. It reads like a nightmare from hell republican bullshit agenda. How about the environment? How about helping the poor? None of that for our good Republican.

And here is my response, for what little this is worth. What is next I wonder. How do I ramp this up a bit?






Saturday, July 1, 2017

Who Shall Pass or Fail the Test?

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In another post, see here, I described a test I was playing on various friends and acquaintances.

For those of you who wonder how to pass the test, and need a cheat sheet, here is a short list of some of the answers, any one of which will suffice to pass the test:

Express concern and ask how you can help.
Offer to buy lunch or loan your friend $100
Suggest a friend you know who might need someone of his skills (i.e. to get a job).
Offer to pay for something that might help (e.g. internet access or a phone bill or water bill).
Offer him or her a place to stay for a week or a month.
Offer to drive him or her somewhere.
Offer to introduce him or her to someone who might be able to help (e.g. get into school, get a part time job, whatever).
Make them feel welcome or in some way try to lesson the shame when you do any of the above on behalf of your friend.

Things you can do to automatically fail the test include:

Say you dont have the time to hear this right now.
Offer to have them committed for their own good.
Insult them.
Tell them to fuck off.
Make fun of them either to their face or behind their back (they will always know, trust me).
Fail to offer to help them get a job even though they know you have done that for others.

None of these lists are exhaustive.

[It saddens me to report that this test, which has in fact been in progress for several years has been passed by only a few people.  There are a few themes that I have noticed, in particular that some people who I have been in relationships with are particularly uncaring, but I guess that is not a total surprise even if it is a disappointment.  Others, it turns out, who in some sense truly owe me nothing, if anything one might say that I owe them for their courtesy to me over the years and their contributions to my life however accidental, have turned out to be very generous.  This is hardly an observation that will be new to the careful observer of mammalian biped behavior]






Definition: All But Homeless

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I am sometimes guilty of using my own sub-language, or jargon. I think most writers do at one time or another. Its hard to get a new word or term defined and accepted but the Germans, or those who speak the Germanic languages do not care. They create and use compound words with speed and facility.

Sidewalk, rocketship, doorknob, jailbait, idiot-sh*t-for-brains, etc.

I have needed a term for someone who is essentially but not quite homeless for quite a while.

If “homeless” refers to someone who is chronically unemployed and does not have the money, or for some reason the capability, to have a place to sleep, to take a shower, to keep their stuff, and to cook a meal, we call that person homeless.

I define “all-but-homeless” as someone who would be homeless, except that their friends or family is putting them up somewhere.

This might be “couch surfing”, but couch surfing has a different feeling to it. “Couch surfing” suggests someone who is 20 something and who is able to mooch on a friend for a week or a month while they are looking for work. It has a healthy, youthful feel to it. It does not suggest the helplessness of homelessness.

An “all-but-homeless” person is someone who has tried for years to make a living, who has learned new skills, worked hard, is older than is trendy, but still cant figure out how to pay the rent. He or she is now a burden on their friends or family or both but doesnt want to be and is somewhat ashamed of it.

They are certainly better off than a “homeless” person but they are far from living a healthy, actualized life. They can not travel, can not afford medical care, can not afford new clothes, can not afford to go to conferences or go on vacation. They are in a prison of poverty and can not work their way out. Maybe they are a victim of their own decisions, maybe they have a disability whether acknowledged or unacknowledged, maybe they are a victim of government policies, maybe they are just unlucky, or maybe it is a combination of some of these or something else entirely. They are certainly better off than someone who is homeless, but that is about all you can say about it.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Test

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They say if you spend too much time alone, you go mad. First you start talking to yourself and start displaying various signs of mental distress. Then you start coming up with schemes to get out of whatever circumstances you are currently in. But when they all fail, you start plotting revenge.

But is it revenge, really? Maybe not. Maybe what one is plotting is merely a way of exposing who is really a person of character, willing to do the right thing, and who is not worthy of the label “human”. Perhaps one can construct a test to reveal the poseurs for what they are, scum of the worst type, the hypocrite.

And so, like Diogenes of Sinope whose search for an honest person commended him to be the subject of so many works of art, perhaps I will run a series of informal tests to see who among my friends and colleagues are willing to lift one finger, make one phone call, send one email, in order to end my distress.

Why not? I am stuck here anyway. Why not have some fun?




The Academy and Its Invitations 2017

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If there had not been such a brouhaha about “diversity” and the “motion picture industry”, I might not have discovered which of my friends and acquaintances have been invited to be members of the Academy. But since the Academy is working hard to include more women and people of color into their membership, the list becomes news, and so I reviewed it.

And there is good news and bad news in it. First and foremost, although it is indeed a kind of honor to be a member of the Academy, and it does entail some nice privileges, it does not mean that because you are a member that (a) you have any power or (b) that you will ever work again. It certainly doesnt hurt though, and it is no small thing to be a member of an elite club. Especially if you live in LA.

Other good news is that a variety of people I know, some of whom are friends, who probably deserve to be a member of the Academy, are indeed invited. In one notable case, which will not be mentioned by name, there is also one person who is a complete dick. But the others arent dicks, and so with our so small sample size in mind, I think this is a fairly good list.

Leaving out the dick, the people I noticed who I know who are on this list include: Rhonda Gunner (a co-founder of Video Image), Carl Ludwig (a founder of Blue Sky), Raymond Yeung (a good person and one of the annointed keepers of the color spaces), Darwyn Peachey of Pixar (with a name like this you are never forgotten), Jinko Gotoh (a producer associated with CGI since before the beginning) and Brooke Breton (a producer who started with Star Trek and has worked on many projects including the various Avatars).

Congratulations to all of them!


Monday, June 26, 2017

Message Number 4 to Representative Hunter (CA-50)


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I am still pressing Duncan Hunter (CA-50) regarding that secret meeting with Pruitt and the Oil and Gas companies. I wonder what was said. Maybe this is what the FOIA is all about.





Friday, June 23, 2017

Progress on an Open Source Software Transcoding Solution

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I have been looking for a transcoding solution in software that is professional enough to use for my various purposes. Previously I was using Canopus Procoder 2/3, but Canopus was bought by Greenvalley, which was bought by Thompson, which is now called Technicolor and the product is discontinued. When I last looked at Handbrake, which was a few years ago, it only seemed to be available for the Mac and was too consumer oriented for my needs.

But to my amazement, Handbrake is also available in GUI form for Windows and in command line form for Linux. It is open source and available from France where it is apparently legal to have MP3/MP4/MP2 codecs built into your free software.

Using it on Windows, I have done preliminary tests and it seems to be acceptable. I wont know where the feature gaps are until I use it more. But to begin with, I have been able to excerpt one minute of footage from a high resolution 2 hour mp4 and convert it to various formats and resolutions.

Although it clearly does not give access to all the video features that Canopus Procoder 2/3 did, it does allow you access to some and I wont know if this is sufficient or limiting until I use it a lot more.

It does not appear to have any malware or annoying advertisements.

I wish to emphasize how important the “open source” quality of this software matters to me. Those with money do not need to worry about a product disappearing, they can always buy something else. Those without money need to worry about whether a tool they choose for their work will continue to exist and be available. Open source software, although far from being a panacea for professionals and artists at least has the quality that it is unlikely to just disappear.





Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Response to the Georgia Special Election of June 20, 2017

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The districts we have lost in special elections were always going to be long shots. But I think that the Republicans are correct to feel that they have been somewhat vindicated. Yes, they lost 20 points or so in Georgia and yes that district should not have been even close, but they did win.

Five months into the greatest disaster this country has faced since the War Between the States, and our suburban Southern friends have sent a clear message.

And the message is: racism was OK with them, we need to make sure that local police forces can control minority groups (who arent really Americans anyway), environmental concerns hurt jobs, public schools need to be defunded, the Russians are our friends whose attacks against Hillary was no big deal and gross incompetence at the top is what this country needs.

We need to murder poor women, build oil pipelines through wilderness areas (which always leak, but thats OK, I mean who the f*ck cares?), defund solar energy, defund scientists who dont do what we say, impose the harshest penalties on poor people who step out of line, and always give special tax breaks to the rich.

Trump has had significant successes. Who could not but stand up and cheer when the first thing that Gorsuch did on the Supreme Court was to go out of his way and murder a black man? Take out the revolver, put it to that black man's head and say “we don't know if you are guilty or not, but we are going to shoot you here, I am going to shoot you here because you are poor and black and that is what America stands for. “ And then Gorsuch pulled the trigger.

I don't think that they are lying to us. I think that they are sincerely interested in destroying this country. The Republicans can be proud.

The mayor of New Orleans wrote an incredibly stupid piece about the statues of Confederate leaders a month or so ago. He made claims about why destroying history was the right thing to do. It was a very Stalinist claim about who was “on the right side of history”.

So I ask my fellow Democrats, who is on the right side of history today?


Sunday, June 18, 2017

An Argument in Favor of Emailing Your Congressman in Spite of Everything

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Those who read this blog are not naive. Neither you nor I believe that merely emailing our Congressional representative has much chance of making a difference. We know what makes a difference which is to say, money, and lots of it. Not protests, not petitions, not emails, and it is up in the air at this point in time whether there is such a thing as free and fair elections as well.

The Russians have apparently been completely successful, successful beyond their wildest expectations, in convincing many if not most Americans that their elections are rigged in favor of established interests. In the same way that the judicial system and economy are rigged.

What the established powers of this country have failed to understand, is that you can not lie and steal the money over and over again, abuse the constitution, and fail to act responsibly without there being long term damage to the Republic. You can kick the can down the road only so far before you run out of road. You can put your right wing thugs on the Supreme Court to steal elections and kill minorities only so often before people judge that Democracy is an empty fraud and probably always has been.

But I am going to encourage everyone I know to naively look beyond this reality and play a game with me, that has only an infinitesimal chance of making a difference. In my heart, I doubt that anything a citizen without a lot of money can do will matter. That dream is over. And it has been over for a very long time.

But just for fun, why not try to scare them.

The House completely turns over every two years. Although the Republicans have done a very good job at destroying any chance of a fair election, they still only have a slight majority in the House. So lets scare them. The last thing any Congressman, Republican or Democrat, wants is an informed and active electorate. An electorate that knows what bills are in front of Congress and tells their Congressman what is expected of them.

If you email or call your representative once a week, and leave a very nice message asking them to do something honest in order to help this country, you can be quite sure they will ignore you.  They will act responsibly only over their dead body. But they also know that for every citizen who emails or calls them, that this individual will probably vote and that means they have to have at least one and preferably two voters on their side to hold onto power. 

The more who call, the more votes they know they have to get.  Uneasy lies the head, etc. 

So I volunteer to do all the startup work for you.  If you will send me your zip code, I will do the research necessary to find out your district, your representative, how to send email, and where to call. I will make this effortless for you. No, it probably wont make a difference, but since we are fucked anyway, and we are, why not?







For what it is worth, I am up to three emails and left one telephone message for my Representative of the 60th California district. It is possible that his office even tried to call me back once.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Qatar, Arms Deals, #45 Tweets and Reality

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We can count on our news media to superficially discuss any issue so that the ordinary reader, that is, someone who does not waste their time trying to figure out what is going on, will have no way of understanding a news event.

In this case, there are two events. First #45 tweets that Qatar is a bad country that sponors terrorism, bigly, or something. Second, the SECDEF announces that we are selling US $12 billion of Boeing F15Q air superiority fighters to Qatar.

Of course that doesnt make any sense but here are a few things most articles fail to mention.

First, at 36 F-15s one is no where near the price of $12 B, so I presume that this price includes the total cost of ownership over many years, training, parts, supplies, bribes, and other equipment and services not mentioned (e.g. intelligence related), etc. Second, our largest base in the area is in Qatar and it is out of there that the Central command operates. Third, this is the command that had to be moved out of Saudi Arabia because of course all Americans are infidels and Jews, and so Qatar "taking us in" was something of a favor, depending on how you look at it. Fourth, I would not be surprised to hear that Qatar does sponsor terrorism. Of course, so does Saudi Arabia. The hair's being split here may have something to do with whether it is official govt policy to sponsor "terrorism" or whether it is merely important wealthy individuals from these countries that do. Fifth, there has been for many years a defacto trade going on between us and many middle eastern countries which generally involves us sending them dollars for oil, but they then purchase from us a variety of expensive things, and of course what they mostly want is high tech military equipment. Sixth, I suspect that this issue of terrorism is code for a variety of other things such as the efforts of Iran to dominate the region and to destabilize the Saudi Arabian monarchy. Seventh, I think it is a weak argument to say that if we do not sell them these fighters that other nations will, but it is also true.

It would not surprise me if this deal is the result of promises made years ago. Qatar agrees to let us build an important regional base on their territory and in return they get to buy a variety of things from us. So whether we like it or not, this is likely to be a follow through on deals made in the Bush and Obama administration. Or at least that is my speculation.

Just a reminder that while the F-15 is an incredible airplane which when upgraded is still relevant, it is one thing to buy such a plane, it is another to use it well.

The point of this overly short post (many more things could be said) is that looking at the Tweet from #45 and then looking at a press release on an arms deal that happens a few days later tells us very little about what is going on beyond the already very apparent reality that we have as president someone who is not qualified for the post and has no idea what he is tweeting or what the implications or context really is. And why should he? He is just an overrated rich kid, real estate developer, and bully. What do you expect?