Friday, April 11, 2014

Mozilla bows to political pressure, abandons "inclusiveness"

Today I will uninstall Firefox from my machines, and will remove my longstanding Firefox endorsement from the multi-user corporate web application that I developed and manage at my place of employment.  I do so regretfully, but can not in good conscience continue to support Mozilla after the embarrassing departure of its CEO, Brendan Eich.

I understand Mozilla's position -and Eich's stated position- that he resigned voluntarily, but the reality seems to be that he was pressured to do so because of his personal beliefs, and because Mozilla did not openly and firmly support his freedom to have and exercise his political beliefs.  I am not aware that he personally espoused beliefs that were themselves illegal, or that he promoted unlawful behavior.  Rather, he exercised his First Amendment rights to support a political cause that is shared by many if not most Americans.  Whether I agree with those beliefs is irrelevant.

If Mozilla's affirmation of "inclusiveness" does not protect the rights of all its employees to hold and express their personal beliefs, or if it applies only selectively to those beliefs acceptable under some politically correct new orthodoxy, then the policy is neither "inclusive", constitutional, nor American.

Which beliefs will be unacceptable next year?  Mozilla has clearly sent the message that "inclusiveness" really does not imply a generous tolerance toward the views of others, and that all its employees can expect no better treatment that CEO Eich received.

The claims that Brendan Eich resigned voluntarily ring hollow.  I am disappointed with Mozilla, and will miss using Firefox.  But when You threw Mr. Eich overboard I went with him.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Do wind turbines make You sick?

Wind Turbine Human Health Scandal: New Evidence

In today's episode of "Big Government: the Triumph of Central Planning"...

More rumblings of possible links between wind turbines and human sickness. What follows predictably may be something like this...

1) more studies;
2) law suits;
3) more restrictive federal regulations;
4) collapse of private wind turbine investment;
5) federal incentives to "rescue" the wounded wind turbine industry;
6) increased taxes to fund the incentives and "promote green energy".

Monday, November 25, 2013

Guilty plea in bird deaths at wind farms a first - New York News

Guilty plea in bird deaths at wind farms a first - New York News

Here's Your government at work, and I'm not making any of this up...

Between 2009 and 2013 165 birds were killed by wind turbines belonging to Duke Energy Corp.  Wind turbines... You know, those "environmentally friendly" 300 feet tall towers with giant, rotating blades, that are so wonderful to the feds that Your tax dollars are being used to subsidize their construction?

Well, federal law holds that when birds are killed by wind turbines this really is a BIG deal, and so the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Justice Department are cranking up some righteous indignation to prosecute the perpetrators of this carnage.  In a nutshell, if a bird snuffs it by colliding with one of Your federally subsidized rotating blades, and You don't have a federal permit to kill birds with rotating blades, Your kiester's in the chopper.  If You have the permit, it's still bad, but sort of permitted.  But it's a serious enough offense that if a bird approaches one of Your wind turbines, You need to SHUT DOWN the turbine in time to prevent harming the bird. If this means installing bird-detecting radar, and hiring field biologists to watch for birds, so be it.

Duke has had to "plead guilty" and pay $1 million in fines.  They also need to "draft a plan to reduce eagle and bird deaths" at its wind farms.  Oh, and every bird killed must be reported to the feds.

Apparently wind turbines are very good for the environment, unless You actually operate them.

Question: Do wind turbines kill as many birds as buildings, planes, trains, and motor vehicles?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Google Reportedly Building More Floating Structures Outside Bay Area

Google Reportedly Building More Floating Structures Outside Bay Area « CBS San Francisco

Anchors Aweigh (2013 version)

Anchors Aweigh (2013 version)

Anchors aweigh, my boys, anchors aweigh!
Google’s twelve miles off the beach
Where law enforcement cannot reach!

Try as You may, my boys, try as you may,
No whisper’s private now
While NSA and Google have their way!

Every byte is now detected, archived and preserved.
Every message is suspected, decrypted and conserved.
And if they find politically you’re not quite with the pack
You’d better keep your eyes open and watch behind your back.

Anchors aweigh, my boys, anchors aweigh!
Google’s twelve miles off the shore
And feds will come a-knocking at your door!

-All rights reserved, John Robin, 2013.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery

A couple weeks after the House passed the 13 Amendment, abolishing slavery, this poem appeared in Harper's Weekly (02/18/1865)


A SHOUT of joy is ringing through the land,
And men long bowed and broken rise and stand,
As if uplifted by God's bared right hand—
Our country shall be free!

The great decree enfolds the final deed;
No doubtful future closes round our need;
The blessed fruit hangs ripe within the seed—
Our country now is free!

Our mighty sacrifice has wafted sweet
Prevailing incense to God's judgment-seat;
Our martyrs sitting by the angels' feet
Know their earth-home is free.

God said, “Let Freedom be,” as erst “Let Light,”
And burst a new creation on our sight,
Created in our hearts, and named aright
America the Free!

By this we pass from pain to realms of balm,
Striking our lessening tumult through with calm,
Harmonious, holy, happy, with the psalm—
Our native land is free.

O'er life's warm heights within the luminous sky,
Through death's cold vales where endless shadows lie,
Ring forth the psalm to all who live and die—
Our land—our land is free!

Almighty God! we swear by Thy high throne,
Though pain, blood, peril in our path be sown,
This glorious land we now may call our own
Shall be forever free!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Oh! Obama

(Thanks to Oh! Susanna, by Stephen Foster)

Verse 1:
He come from old Chicago, but before that who knows where?
He attended Harvard, so he says, but no one knows him there.

Verse 2:
He’s got a thing for millionaires; he thinks they’re pretty low.
If they would cough up their fair share we’d be rolling in the dough.

Oh! Obama, now don’t You count on me.
Even though I’m in Cook County I’ll be voting for Romney.

Verse 3:
He likes his gov’ment nice and big: the Founders’ worstest fears.
If You think it can’t grow bigger, well, just give him four more years.

Verse 4:
He’s an expert on the Constitution, a professor, so I’m told.
But when he’s in the White House it doesn’t seem to hold.

Oh! Obama, now don’t You count on me.
Even though I’m in Cook County I’ll be voting for Romney.

Verse 5:
When You took office didn’t You say that things would soon be great?
But everyone can see the country’s worse than in ’08.

Verse 6:
I hope You had a good four years, I know that might sound strange,
But when I cast my vote I will be hoping for a change.

Oh! Obama, now don’t You count on me.
Even though I’m in Cook County I’ll be voting for Romney.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When killing babies is good

The September 13, 2012 online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine included a "Perspective" article by Dr. Lisa Harris, entitled, "Recognizing Conscience in Abortion Provision1". In it Dr. Harris attempts to persuade that the desire to kill unborn children can be a noble impulse, prompted by one's conscience in the same way that another person might be urged by conscience not to kill unborn children. Yes, we live in a time when physicians can be found who believe that healing a sick person can be morally equivalent to killing a healthy one.

I submitted a brief response to the NEJM, which was rejected. So I'll post it here:

Conscience and the desire to provide induced abortion

Dear Editor,

Dr. Lisa Harris argues that physicians urged by conscience to refuse to induce abortions, and those urged by conscience to provide induced abortions, equally deserve legal accommodation and respect for their "core moral beliefs".

Yet while all persons are worthy of respectful tolerance, not so all personal acts. Just laws placing limits on elective abortion reflect a social awareness that these acts, while presently legal in many cases, inflict a tragic human cost. A large segment of society believes justice is better served by limiting these acts than by promoting them. Those whose conscience urges them beyond the limits of law must expect from society not license but resistance.

Dr. Harris attempts to erase from memory the Hippocratic tradition prohibiting induced abortion, and to persuade us that for a physician it can be equally noble to kill, as to refuse to kill. Yet is it not the duty of society to stand firm against the demands of a conscience that fails to respect the good of both pregnant mother and child?

1N Engl J Med 2012; 367:981-983. September 13, 2012. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1206253

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cardinal George, the HHS Mandate, and religious freedom

Cardinal George explains in under five minutes why the HHS Mandate violates the religious freedom of Catholics, and why it was intended to do so.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

National debt

Publicly Held Federal Debt 1790-2009
National debt as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
(By Jonathan Huntley, CBO Macroeconomic Analysis Division. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

national debt
(courtesy of

Unemployment, 2002-2012

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

By the end of 2008, at the end of President George Bush's watch, the economic nasty was hitting the fan. On president-elect Barack Obama's radio address of January 10, 2009, he observed, "...given the magnitude of the challenges we face, none of this will come easy. Recovery won't happen overnight, and it's likely that things will get worse before they get better." Fair enough.

But after almost four years in office, unemployment is worse than when President Obama took office.

It's fair to question why the economy tanked on President Bush's watch.

It's also fair to question President Obama's performance in light of today's economy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Samsung BD-ES6000 Blu-ray player gets an 'F'

A week ago we bought a Samsung BD-ES6000 Blu-ray player with built-in WiFi.

Here's why we're returning it for a refund:

  • Blu-ray and DVD discs played well. No complaints about picture or sound.
  • Pandora (when it was working) sounded great.
  • User Interface
    • The user interface is SLOW. You click the remote to select a function, and there's no response for two or three seconds for some options, or twenty seconds or more for others. If everything else worked great, I doubt I'd be willing to put up with such a slow user interface.
    • The front panel is minimalistic, offering controls only for Power, Stop, Play/Pause, and Eject. They are not backlit, and hard to read without good lighting. You're stuck doing almost everything via the sad remote.
    • Setting up the WiFi and account information for Pandora, Hulu Plus, and other services is very tedious because You have to use the remote control to hunt-and-peck letters on Samsung's on-screen keyboard. This is slow, clumsy, and unforgiving. I tried connecting a mouse to the USB port, and was happy at first to see that I could navigate and click the keyboard a little faster than with the remote, but then frustrated to find that only part of the keyboard would respond to the mouse! No character along the right edge of the menu would respond to the mouse.
    • The crummy on-screen keyboard is implemented differently in different apps. Not dramatically differently, but enough to suggest sloppy execution of the user interface. Again, the mouse works with a portion of one keyboard, but not at all with at least one other keyboard.
    • Some of the on-screen messages invite laughter. Samsung needs to hire some better English translators.
    • Probably the last straw was connecting my Blackberry phone to the Samsung player via USB, and viewing photos. I was able to view a few photos and part of a video. Then I disconnected the cable, and immediately my phone gave a message saying that my 16GB micro-SD card was damaged. As it turns out, the SD card is totally destroyed, and even the phone is damaged, too! Even after replacing the SD card, the phone daily reports a 'USB memory error'.
      Yes, the Samsung manual advises You to select the 'Safely Remove USB' function, and no, I did not obey this. But in many years of using USB memory devices and not always using the 'Eject' function, this is the only time I've ever had a SD memory card damaged by any USB host device. A pox on You, Samsung!
  • Streaming
    • Persistent "connection problems" would cause Hulu Plus or Pandora to not start properly, or to fail after working for a little while. Hulu Plus repeatedly would get stuck while trying to load commercials. Both apps were slow to load, and often would not successfully log in with the credentials we had already set up. It frequently asked us to log in again. Thinking the problem might be our WiFi coverage, I connected the Samsung directly to our router via cable... no improvement.
    • I find the internet browser practically useless because of the awful on-screen keyboard. Can You add a USB keyboard and mouse with the browser? I don't know, but based my poor success using a mouse with the keyboard, I'm not optimistic an external keyboard would work at all.

In summary: two thumbs down on this thing. It's going back for a refund this weekend, and we'll be scratching Samsung off our list of candidates when we look again for a Blu-ray player.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Private Sector's Doing Just Fine

Yesterday on national television President Obama announced that "The private sector is doing fine." This wonderful news has come as a great relief to the millions of middle and lower class families facing unemployment, collapsing home values, increased taxes, a stagnant stock market, and crushing national debt. Later in the day, President Obama offered a clarification of his statement in the form of a this stirring ballad, just in time for the annual Country Music Television Music Awards:

-Barry O and the Good News Band-

The private sector's doing just fine.
It was ruined by George Bush but it's much better since '09.
The middle class is feasting on caviar and wine,
'cuz the private sector's doing just fine.

The private sector's strong, as you know,
even if investor confidence is low.
Those bankers are the problem and they really need to go.
I'd love to get my hands on their dough.

Some claim that unemployment's too high.
That's only 'cuz we're lacking jobs and now I'll tell you why.
Republicans would rather that those jobless folk just die,
so I sit here in the White House and cry.

I've got re-election on my mind,
but the economic indicators indicate a bind.
So I'll simply say that things are getting better all the time, that's why
the private sector's doin' fine.

Yes, that Mormon fellow's causing my pearly whites to grind,
but the private sector's doing just fine.
We could use more public spending, let's increase my credit line,
but the private sector's doing just fine.

(All rights reserved.)