Just a quick and dirty update… you can use Google to look up the relevant clips if you’d like 🙂

The other day, I heard a brief piece on NPR describing the G20 protests in Toronto. The correspondent described the protests as having turned violent due to the smashing of some corporate shop windows (Starbucks, Urban Outfitters) and setting fire to a police car. One can argue whether property destruction should or should not be categorized as violence. I say it shouldn’t, but that’s not the point here…

To say that the protests turned violent due to these acts and then not mention the arrest of 600 peaceful protesters and beating of many by police is an example of remarkably dishonest coverage by NPR, not that I expect anything better from them.

Contrast that with the recent Democracy Now update which spent more than twenty seconds on the story. Democracy Now covered the overwhelming violence used by police as well as the property destruction. Democracy Now always puts almost all mainstream news to shame. Imagine that – actually looking at the facts on the ground rather than passing everything through a pro-authority, pro-capitalism, pro-US-government filter. It’s amazing what results from using that technique.

To conservatives that think that all progressives look to NPR and Obama as their heroes and leaders, please know that many of us don’t.

I just finished reading Call of the Wild by Jack London. I had been wanting to read something by Jack London for a while because, of course, he is regarded as a great writer, but also because he was a radical leftist.

Call of the Wild was a somewhat enjoyable read. I’ve definitely read better, though. The story seems a bit out there.

I read Call of the Wild on my iPhone using the Stanza app. I got the book for free from Project Gutenberg because this book is in the public domain, along with a great deal of other books. The app was a breeze to use: just tap left or right to flip pages. And when you start up the app it remembers which book you were on and which page on that book.

I am going to at least start reading American Power and the New Mandarins by Noam Chomsky next. It was his first political book.

Every couple of years I seem to read a book that is really influential to my thinking and my life. A couple of examples from the past six years or so are Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky and Expect Resistance. I read another book recently that also falls into this category for me: In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. It is a really excellent book that has completely revolutionized the way that I think about food. Yes, I ate pretty healthily before reading In Defense of Food. I ate a close-to-vegetarian diet, got regular exercise, maintained a healthy weight, and regularly ate fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

However, I am now able to think of food with a much more basic framework that makes a lot of sense. Pollen has three basic rules, which he has put right on the cover: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Of course, Pollen gives lots of background and evidence, and goes into much more depth on these rules. But he has done an excellent job of summing up the whole book into these simple rules that will make it so easy for anyone to remember.

The key was really for Pollen to redefine what you think of as food. For all of the things that you think of as food, stop thinking of all of that processed, refined crap as actually being food. Corn is food. High fructose corn syrup is not food. The idea is to get to the basics. Think of a healthy, local, grass-fed cow as being food. Don’t think of a McDonald’s hamburger as food.

One rule that I have thought of myself that isn’t in the book is to think of this processed crap as actually being poison. After we got back from San Diego one week ago, which is where I read the book in a day and a half (it was that good… and I had that much time on my hands 🙂 ), I haven’t drank any soda. I had been in the habit of having two or three Diet Cokes (with its artificial sweeteners and other strange things that I didn’t really know what they were) a week and one or two ginger ales (with its high fructose corn syrup) a week. That went immediately down to zero when I got back. It didn’t take any effort, and I didn’t look at it as a sacrifice. I simply realized that that crap isn’t food, and in fact it is poison.

Yes, I am going to commit a writing faux pas, but I think it is helpful in this case. Poison, defined:

a substance that through its chemical action usually kills, injures, or impairs an organism b (1) : something destructive or harmful

This pre-packaged, processed, artificially flavored, artificially colored, artificially fertilized, unnatural crap is exactly that: poison. It kills through obesity, diabetes, cancer, and countless other ailments, not to mention the problems of industrial agriculture like global warming, poisoning of our land and water supplies, and workers’ rights.

Here’s to a healthier life through real food.

I realized some time ago that there are a lot of things that I needed to write down, and that I wasn’t doing it. I wasn’t doing it mostly because they were things that I didn’t necessarily want my whole Twitter feed reading.

So, I started a new blog and Twitter feed that will probably get a lot more posts than this one. But, of course, I’m not telling y’all what they are, because that would defeat the whole purpose.

And, seeing as how I am a geek, I wanted to provide anonymity for myself on a technical level as well. To this end, I am using the Tor Project to anonymize my IP address. I am using a completely different browser just for using Tor. I didn’t want to share my regular browser (Firefox at the time, Chrome now) for my regular browsing and my anonymous browsing because there was the risk of not using Tor when I meant to, the risk of my anonymous browser visits getting logged in my browser history unintentionally, the annoyance of possibly having cookies get mixed up, and also the annoyance of having Tor possibly slowing down things that I didn’t need or want to use Tor for. It was much easier to just relegate Tor to its own browser.

Unfortunately, a couple of browsers on OS X use system-wide proxy settings. I didn’t want to use Tor for my whole system, just one browser! I settled on Opera as my Tor browser because it allows you to set the proxy settings that only affect it and not the whole OS. Also, Opera for OS X is a pretty nice browser, even if Opera Mini for the iPhone has awful privacy implications (please, please don’t use Opera Mini).

Anyway, I don’t know if my new blog means that I’ll be blogging here less. Probably not, seeing as how I only post on here about once every month or so. But the ten or so posts that I have made on the new blog have been really helpful for me so far. It is really good to get thoughts and feelings down in writing sometimes to help myself really understand them.

I did tell one lucky person about the blog – Mags. I wanted to make sure there was nothing hidden, and be completely open with her. On the flip side, she said that she decided not to read it unless I showed it to her, as to respect my need for a private outlet. One thing I thought of, though, is that I’ll need to show her how to use Tor if she is to view my blog from her computer, because my paranoid side knows that combing the visitor logs would reveal her IP address… which is also my IP address. And my anonymity would be potentially blown 🙂

I had been thinking for years of starting an anonymous blog. I am not sure what took me so long to do it. One thought of mine has been – if I want the blog to be anonymous, why go through all the trouble to put it on the web at all? An encrypted text file would do just fine. And I am not really sure how to answer this question completely. But I guess my vanity demands the potential for some readers, which I have had zero of so far 🙂 Also, with the potential for other people reading what I am writing, I am motivated to make my writing more coherent more thoughtful and complete, which helps to further the purpose of the blog to begin with.

OK, it is time to make another post on my super-secret paranoid anonymous blog!

Mags and I want to go camping, and I had a fresh desire to do so just this morning. I really want to see the stars clearly, snuggle up in my sleeping bag, sit by the fire, go hiking, you know, all that good stuff. Anyone want to join?

I’ve decided to start messing around with Ruby on Rails a little bit recently. I am reading Learning Rails from O’Reilly Press. I like this quote (page 178):

Because Rails works hard at staying independent of any given database implementation, migrations also offer you a convenient technique for creating your application using one database for development or testing and yet another for deployment.

Fun stuff so far. I haven’t written anything besides Perl for a long time, and even when I have written Perl it has been small systems administration scripts.

In a just world, this would be the Western Conference All-Star team:
Deron Williams
Brandon Roy
Kevin Durant
Carmelo Anthony
Dirk Nowitzki
Tim Duncan
Kobe Bryant
Steve Nash
Pau Gasol
Chris Paul
Tyreke Evans
Amare Stoudemire

The Western Conference was much harder to pick than the Eastern Conference. The following players really deserve to play in the All-Star game as well:
Chris Kaman
Monta Ellis
Zach Randolph
Andrew Bynum

In a just world, here is who would be selected for the Eastern Conference All-Star team:
Dwight Howard
Lebron James
Chris Bosh
Dwayne Wade
Joe Johnson
Antawn Jamison
Rajon Rondo
Gerald Wallace
Danny Granger
Derrick Rose
Brook Lopez
David Lee

It is 2010 and video on the web is in a sorry state.
– It is choppy on all OS X web browsers, no matter the video source. It is better on Chrome and Safari, worse on Firefox, but definitely choppy on all three.
– It doesn’t work on the iPhone.
– There is too much buffering on all platforms. Really, software developers, set it so it buffer enough before it starts playing so playback isn’t interrupted.

Sometimes, a lot of the time, modern technology seems like it is in one giant beta test. Being a sysadmin, I see hardware and software fail to do really basic things all the time. Things like:
– servers locking up with no useful error logging to let me know why
– Apple’s Mail.app crashing, with no error messages
– my new keyboard, of all things, needing to be unplugged and replugged at least once per day to work correctly

And with video, well that is supposed to be the new hotness on the web, but I for one still find it remarkably frustrating.

We’re going to Copenhagen in September or October, for about ten days!

Yeah, it’s a long way away, but we’ve got to save up our paid time off 🙂 Immediately after the wedding, we’ll go to a bed and breakfast for two or three nights.

I’m getting pretty excited. Things are moving along pretty smoothly. Invites will start to go out tomorrow night.