Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More on the Privacy Thing

From 1/29/08 post on Boing Boing:http://www.boingboing.net/2008/01/28/security-vs-privacy.html

Security vs. Privacy is really Control vs. Liberty

Posted by Cory Doctorow, January 28, 2008 10:41 PM permalink

Security expert Bruce Schneier has a stirring editorial about the "false dichotomy of 'security versus privacy'" -- people who push for reduced privacy don't want more security, they want more control.

The debate isn't security versus privacy. It's liberty versus control.

You can see it in comments by government officials: "Privacy no longer can mean anonymity," says Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligence. "Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people's private communications and financial information." Did you catch that? You're expected to give up control of your privacy to others, who -- presumably -- get to decide how much of it you deserve. That's what loss of liberty looks like.

It should be no surprise that people choose security over privacy: 51 to 29 percent in a recent poll. Even if you don't subscribe to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, it's obvious that security is more important. Security is vital to survival, not just of people but of every living thing. Privacy is unique to humans, but it's a social need. It's vital to personal dignity, to family life, to society -- to what makes us uniquely human -- but not to survival.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I guess it is the result of growing up in the Wild West during the cold war era but I tend to cringe whenever the slightest waft of big brother emanates in my direction. Never a fan of the patriot act, I am a strict constructionist and would prefer people keep their shoes on in airports and just buck it up and show some cojones of their own, so to speak. In short, leave me alone and I will get along just fine.
Now, you are all aware of the well intentioned, overly bureaucratic, actually intrusive and extortionist policy implementation that has arisen from the HIPAA. That is the HEALTH INSURANCE PORTABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT passed in 1996 that makes insurers insure people. That is working out real well isn’t it? Well, included in there is the requirement that we waste zillions of dollars in paperwork by acknowledging that every health care person you see is sworn to secrecy about what they find out about you. Another nice thing, right? Every time we visit a doctor we have to verify that we have been told of this and they have to find a way to have us sign in without the next guy seeing our name on the list. That is a study in itself.
Meanwhile, as I am thinking I am protected from anyone learning ANYTHING about my health unless I specifically authorize it, suddenly these “Care Considerations” start landing in my mailbox from a company called ACTIVEHEALTH Management. Seems they have dug up the fact that I did not get a flu shot. Where do they get this information? From the HIPAA top secret medical data? And not only are they trying to coerce me into compliance with THEIR idea of what I should be doing with my health, they promise to rat on me to my own doctor. Yes, I have major problems with this.
I did a little research and discovered that the company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Aetna, my current medical insurance company, as it is the only real option from my husband’s employer. Well, that is a nice little ruse. Just buy the company and you can invade my privacy all you want in the name of the corporation who is supposed to be helping pay the bills but insists on meddling in the affairs that in my view are strictly a matter for me and my doctor.
Of course the website is filled with all sorts of self serving studies that support with stats that by doing this data mining and comparing a patient’s record with the one-size-fits-all guidelines that big doctor brother has, in his infinite and remote wisdom, established, they can successfully bring us all –doctor and patient alike—into “compliance.” I am offended and angry on so many levels about this I can barely type this with my thumbs.
First, who the hell gave this New York Company permission to mine my Arizona medical data? I did not. But it may be academic because I am certain that had I refused to allow it they would kindly ask me to take my sinuses and vagina elsewhere-but there is nowhere else to go. I do not recall signing any HIPAA form for this anyway. The whole HIPAA thing is a farce.
Second, why are they injecting themselves into my relationship with my doctor? Yes, doctors make mistakes ( I can tell you about several instances in just this past week)and patients have trouble keeping up; but, those are flaws in the system that are not resolved with the Eye in the Sky watching over and reaching out to pinch us when we don’t follow their mandate. This is social engineering at its worst.
I don’t want a flu shot. They don’t work. I don’t want a mammogram-I have no family history (both my grandmothers lived well into their 80’s fully boobed) and no reason to date to subject myself to the unhealthy levels of energy that they blast at you. And anyway, they really don’t work either. I can say that about any number of needless tests that our country spends billions of dollars on per year. We are great at pointless tests but when you have an actual problem, like this pain I have had for many, many months now, they have no clue what it is or how to fix it. I know a girl who has been in the hospital for three days now while they debate whether she has appendicitis or not.
Third, how much money is this little exercise costing? First they had to buy the company from the well-intentioned but overzealous medical doctor/computer nut who invented it. And I am sure it was not a fire sale. Then they have to do the data mining and employ all the folks for that. Finally, they do a direct mailing, not just to me but my doctor as well. It is two pages long and creepy. And we got two of them the other day, one for me and one for the spouse-privacy thing you know. Ask any business and the overhead associated with direct, personalized mail, is astronomical. And how inefficient are these people in spite of all that? The letters are dated December 24, 2007 but we got them on January 25, 2008-an entire month later and on the far side of the flu season so coming into compliance with their flu shot mandate would make no difference. Another friend was recently told by an ER doc that by the time they get the flu sera out there the bug has morphed into some other strain already anyway.
No, I am not a doctor. But given the experiences I have had with doctors that is not a big deal. My computer is not a doctor either, nor is ActiveHealth’s. And furthermore, it is not me. Maybe most people are total idiots incapable of thinking and doing anything for their own health. There are certainly mountains of studies to prove that. But don’t assume I am in with that bunch. I know myself and I can make my own decisions, thank you very much. And I am tired of letting other people make money off the fact that they think they know better for me. This information is unsolicited, unneeded and insulting to boot.
With this simple example I can point out billions of dollars of waste in the system. It is not hard to figure out why we have the most expensive system in the world. But try and pry some of that money from those who are sucking it off the top and you are a heretic.
I know, let’s have the government take it over-that way we can get a check up while getting scanned in while moving barefoot through the security bay of the airport terminal. Think of the savings from that efficiency!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Awesome Alternative to Hummus

Judy Walker recently discovered the delight of this dip. Pomegranate molasses and red pepper paste (if you don't want to roast and mash your own) are available at the Middle Eastern Bakery or any such deli. I found that New Mexico red chile pepper is a great alternative to the chile pepper. Check out Judy's blog for more great recipes from NOLA:

(Red Pepper-Pomegranate Molasses Dip)

2 1/2 pounds sweet red bell peppers
1 small hot chile pepper or 1 tablespoon Turkish red pepper paste
1 1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup wheat crackers or zweibach
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, more for garnish
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, more for garnish

1. Roast the peppers and chili over a gas burner or under a broiler, turning frequently until blackened and blistered all over, about 12 minutes. Place in a covered bowl to steam for 10 minutes. Rub off the skins, slit peppers open, and remove stems, membranes and seeds. Spread the peppers, smooth side up, on a paper towel and let drain for 10 minutes.
2. In a food processor, grind the walnuts and crackers with the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, cumin, salt, and sugar until smooth. Add the bell peppers and process until puréed and creamy.
3. With the machine on, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Add the chile to taste. If the paste is too thick, thin with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Refrigerate overnight.
4. To serve, let the dip come to room temperature and sprinkle with cumin and olive oil.

Housekeeping-Important information for regular readers

Yes, Fred withdrew. That always happens to me. But a person can still vote for him if they so desire; or any of the 20 or 30 people on your ballot you have never even heard of. What is the point of that?

On another subject, I have been wondering why no one ever comments on my blog. Now I know. I had never looked at the comment settings (I only pretend I know what I am doing with this blogging stuff) and it seems that if you did not have a google account you could not comment. That, my friends, has been rectified. Google is amazing but that does not mean they are the only show in town. To have such a thing default in that way is a bit egotistical in my view; but then I guess Google has a right to a fat head. Anyway, it is now open for a free for all. I look forward to hearing from you; otherwise reading my own blog is a bit of snoozefest.

Finally, I am nearing the end of the latest season of 24 on DVD and I am no less in love with it. The show does have some issues, like that fact that no one EVER eats or drinks anything. And sometimes they do a lousy job of making the latest impossible plot resolution seem even the least bit realistic (like when Chang escaped and there just happened to be a chauffered driver waiting for him despite the fact that the US agents had "set up a perimeter"). But most of the time it is first rate. Putting people in the bunker with the President while he agonizes over what to do in a nuclear situation and not being able to trust a single person in the room is very well done and should make us all stop and think about the big picture. I could totally see Fred doing that but not one of the rest of them. So watch 24 and vote for Fred anyway.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I'm Still For Fred

As with most of the very important things that I do in my life, I voted in my kitchen. That is the beauty of a mail in ballot. You can vote in the bedroom, the living room, in your car, wherever. Then you just pop it in the mail. No pressure, no hassle, no neighborhood authoritarian-for-a-day asking you to prove you are a citizen. Nice. Cook an omelet, check a box. I like it. You don't even need a stamp! The postage is prepaid.

How many people are going to be shocked when they get there and find this amazingly long list of names on the ballot. What is the point of that? Most of the people on there you have never heard of. Some you barely hear of, like Fred Thompson. He is totally in the running but rarely ever in the news and when he is they usually get it wrong.

He is called lazy. Well, in my opinion his is lazy like a blue tick hound. Yep, he will loll about when there is no real business to be done but bring on a rabbit and watch out. All this front end campaigning, despite the pretty photos and vapid diner conversations, is not real business. Nothing deep gets said. It is more like a hazing. Whoever survives the daily drudgery and can still smile passes some sort of stamina test. I guess this should make us confidant that if that person gets elected and finds themselves severely injured they will have the stamina to be brought out of the medically induced coma, a la President Palmer on the great show 24, in order to continue to assert their rabid desire for control. Not real comforting.

Fred, sees how silly this is. The other problem he has in getting noticed is that he does not utter pretty sound bytes. I loved Hillary's sound "bite" last week when she feebly illustrated how the issues are all interconnected by alluding to chips and guacamole, a subject I know quite a bit about. She was pathetically unable to pull the quote to its logical conclusion. Fred doesn't risk sounding lame. When you tell it like it is, in a confident, no-nonsense manner, let's face it-you are boring.
I love reading the Week. It compiles all the great news sources each week into convenient departments. It has a standard column-"Boring but Important." Fred's name could be there every week.

But he is not always boring. See his Youtube video response to Michael Moore's claim of medical system superiority in Cuba.

Now, I don't agree with Fred on everything; but maybe I do. Yes, he is pro-life but I think he is really saying what I think: the federal government simply has no business in this issue. That is followed logically by his conclusion that government money should not pay for abortions. These are totally consistent positions. If you want to make a personal decision, you should pay for it yourself-otherwise you are subject to the benefactor's opinion on the matter. I think Fred would go with that.
Same with marriage. Fred says it is between a man and a woman. Again, I think he would agree with me-it is certainly none of the federal government's business, especially federal judges who are not there to make law.

Maybe I am rationalizing, but on the rest of the stuff, I think Fred is the man.
Here is a wonderful analysis by another person who feels the same way. I am pretty sure there are more than two of us out there.http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0108/colon.php3

As it stands the field is wide open. That proves my theory that Fred is wisely conserving his resources for the right time and place. So grab your mail-in ballot, have a cup of tea and do a little research. I hope you come to the same conclusions as I do, but if not, I respect your right to choose.

Post script: as for stamina, Fred has a second, young family. Nothing takes more stamina than that. On that count and at his age he is clearly nuts. But that is none of the government's business either.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


…that the economy is so bad off when people have literally tons of money to continue throwing at these presidential candidates. I am certain that if you added it all up just so far in the “primaries” which have been going on for over a year already, it would far exceed the annual budgets of a large majority of the countries of the world. It is all just a matter of priorities and this makes a sad statement about our national priorities, particularly as our infrastructure is becoming perilously old and we can’t get help to the people who still remain homeless all this time after Hurricane Katrina.

…that the music people have not conspired to deprive people of the “property” they have bought and paid for in the form of MP3 files. Having only recently acquired an IPOD I was shocked to learn that you have to double save all your music. You can’t just put it on the IPOD and forget about it. If you don’t have it backed up somewhere you will lose it all. With all the wondrous things they can do there is absolutely no reason why they cannot set up the system to not delete the music from the device until you tell it to. I have heard many sad stories of people inadvertently losing thousands of songs only to have to buy them again. At least in the days of vinyl you paid once and had the song for infinity. Oh, and this little method also increases sales of computer equipment in the form of the hard drives you have to back all this stuff up on. I am not sure I have time for all that.

…that it is not a no-brainer-- again in this time of “advanced” technology-- that the formula for lethal injections in executions could not be changed without getting the US Supreme Court involved. Apparently they stopped using this formula on animals some time ago. Again, this is an expensive way to get the people in charge to use common sense.