Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Badly needed improvement to US medical system

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

One thing the US medical system badly needs is a set of rules similar to the ones mechanics operate under.

1) They should be required to provide a quote beforehand. Recently a doctor ordered some unnecessary imaging for me and the imaging lab could not even tell me how much it would cost.
2) They should not get paid if a reasonable person would conclude they did not solve the problem. This would require a little bit of special-case handling because of course you have hypochondriacs who would never believe they had been cured, but I am sure we could come up with a way (maybe a independent panel of reviewers) to implement it. For long term treatments money could go into a escrow account until the patient concludes the work was successful.

As it currently stands, they have NO reason to behave themselves. They can charge anything they want, they never have to get any results, and because of protectionism for health insurance companies you can’t even change providers if you don’t like the results you’re getting unless you want to wait for the next enrollment period. Being a doctor is a license to steal – and also my ongoing experience with them suggests they all think they know my body better than I do and they often do not bother to even listen to me.

From my POV, health care in the USA is the worst in the industrialized world – and the people who run the system have no shame and are making no real attempt to improve it.

Part of why I definiately lean to the left politically

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

So, as I see it, conservative – right leaning – people are generally anxious to throw people under the bus. Illegal immigrant? You’re not a person, you deserve to suffer. Black? The cops should just shoot you now. Poor? You should be enslaved so the rich can get richer. And so on.

Now, this is a *LOSING STRATEGY* – which is why for the past hundred years, every time the conservatives get in power the economy in general does worse, individuals do worse, and happiness levels drop. However, humans are programmable creatures, and the conservative news does a good idea of selling, over and over, the idea that it is a winning strategy. They also carefully sell the idea that we’re barely making it, that we’re all going to starve if 10% of us don’t work, which is utter bullshit – humanity is *spectacularly wealthy*. But – as we all know, having power *causes brain damage* – and part of how that manifests is when they get in power, conservatives actually think they are improving the world by throwing people under the bus, as often and as quickly as possible.

Liberals are in love with the radical idea that if we work together we can all get further. Obviously, so am I. Generally to the extent you can build a trustworthy government it is also the best vehicle for making sure people *don’t* get thrown under the bus. Part of the problem is we perpetually have people trying to throw other people under the bus so they can profit – you end up with for-profit prisons, prisons with for-profit telecoms, for-profit immigration detention centers combined with artificially low immigration quotas, and all sorts of similar things. Naturally the for-profit prisons use their money to advocate for making more and more things illegal.

I guess when I look at the government, I see the social services arm as mostly trustworthy but under-funded, the education arm as somewhat trustworthy but someone needs to take away all those stupid tests, and the criminal justice system as downright evil and needing completely retooled. The laws are somewhere in the middle. I go back and forth on whether earth is a dystopia, or just a long way from a utopic center – I definitely am aware that my position is well, well above average on Earth (I am ‘privileged’)

The windows 10 nightmare

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

So, this is a great article that I think sums up why I think windows 10 – and MacOs 11 – are both heading straight into dystopian land. Big corporations believe that it’s their computer, not yours, and thanks to Citizens United, those big corporations own the government as well.

(one of my friends immediately equates me saying this with me being a Trumpian Antimasker who believes the Hollywood Elites and Liberal Academia are responsible for all the ills of the world – and I really don’t think it’s the same thing at all. Trumpanzees and antivaxers believe in things which are *not true* – I believe in something which is *demonstrably* true, which is that Microsoft has placed themselves in a position to install software on your computer without your knowledge or consent and is steadily abusing this position more and more. You *cannot* remove Edge from Windows 10. Nor a whole long list of other applications. Microsoft sincerely believes it is their computer, not yours. Even scarier, in S mode you cannot install Chrome)

At this point I am *hoping* Microsoft screws up in some way which results in bricking millions of windows PCs, because at least that will get the government to notice how scarily dictatorship-like their position is over the desktop market. In the meantime, I will keep running windows 7,

The problem with post-truth politics

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

So, increasingly we live in a world where people believe what they want to believe, regardless of facts – this of course has been true for a long time in the case of conservatives (it’s very clear if you consider the delay line effects that when liberals are in power, the economy does better, yet conservatives always claim their policies are better for the economy, for example – and it’s been demonstrated repeatedly that the laffer curve does not play out the way the politicians claim it will and yet over and over people fall for the idea of the laffer curve – which is the core idea behind the failed Trump-era tax cuts)

One of the problems we have is that our political system exerts no punishment for being wrong, and politicians who are in fact appealing entirely to emotion continue to be re-elected based on doing the wrong thing over and over because that’s what their electorate, who prefer to live in a post-truth world and are aided by lying news sources (i.e. fox news), want and believe.

I think we need to add some sort of closed-loop automatic firing of politicians who guess wrong. It’s already been demonstrated that inside a capitalist system, it’s profitable to keep lying to the people, and the net result is that the system optimizes for the happiness of a few select individuals at the cost of the happiness of the group as a whole. I think we literally do need to automatically fire the people who, for example, vote in favor of the lying about who won the election, or vote in favor of the laffer curve, or whatever the lie of the week is. At the moment this would advantage the democrats, who are by and large making data-driven and science-driven decisions, but I am sure at some future date they will fall victim to the same rot that has taken over the republican party, so this is really a nonpartisan suggestion over the long haul. The decisions we drive the ship of state using should not be based on lies and wishful thinking.

Of course this probably means we shouldn’t have religious folks in politics, since the vast majority of religion seems to be built upon lies and wishful thinking as well. It would be a dramatic departure from history – and I don’t know of anywhere that has actually tried it – to, for example, require unit tests for success to be written for every law that is written, and require the law to be struck if the unit tests fail – and if someone enacted the law after being warned that history indicates this type of law tends to fail, require that person to be looking for a new job as well.

Conservatives and paying

Friday, April 9th, 2021

So, I’ve been pondering Trump (for example)’s tendency to rob his supporters, stiff his vendors, and whatnot. I then started to realize that every time anyone has in any way messed with my paycheck, they have been politically conservative. Politically conservative people are more likely to delay paychecks, fail to pay, pay less than what was invoiced, etc.

I was realizing that this makes sense. Conservative politicians are generally the ones who say we should not have safety nets, not support our neighbors, etc – this makes sense, they are dishonorable in the sense that they want the advantages of being part of a group (see Resource Allocation As A Group) without being willing to pay their share. They’re like the people who want to use open source software but keep their bug fixes as proprietary instead of contributing them back to the open source project.

I wonder if they realized that if *everyone* behaved as they do we would all be much worse off as a species? I suspect some of them know this but are too hooked by the money and power being the biggest asshole is gaining them, while others of them are genuinely deluded into believing that being conservative (in the sense of going back to times when we were more selfish and/or awful) is a winning move.

The awfulness of conservatives (A recurring theme)

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

At one time, I thought that conservatives provided a balancing effect on our viewpoints and we’d make worse decisions without them.

I’ve come to believe that no, in fact, we’d be a lot better off without their influence on the systems of power and in fact they are just awful, possibly even evil.

Look at recent events. They want to ban providing food and water in lines for voting while they deliberately reduce the number of polling places in liberal areas. This is called cheating – and it is something they do often otherwise we wouldn’t be burdened with them at all.

And, of course, they want to ban children – which they include 18-to-21-year-olds-in – from getting health care if they are transgendered. THis is a impressive level of awfulness. It does represent the truth that conservatives do not want us to be free – they want billionaires to be free and everyone else to be enslaved, and if at all possible they would like the Christian equivalent of sharia law. But not for them – after all, look at Matt Gaetz – only for everyone else. They have basically no moral compass – they are convinced a abortion is murder but bombing people who happen to believe in a different way of allocating resources is A-OK – in fact bombing people just because they happen to have oil is A-OK, or even just because we’d like more profits.

They generally care more about money than continued survival – they’ll defend fracking because it’s fine if our children have bizarre cancers and no water to drink as long as they can continue to have dirt cheap electricity and gasoline now – and they’ll also defend preserving stupid investments – we will tax the wind turbines because they’re competing unfairly with coal, we will block new solar installations because it might make fracking irrelevant.

They will of course find epic new ways to be racist. When Trump ran on a platform of racism, they loved it. Bring back the Klan!

And, they’ll argue for finding ways to make it look like humanity is barely holding on when in fact we’re fantastically wealthy. They’ll demonstrate the ultimate in fiscal irresponsibility, designing a awful resource allocation system and then insisting we stick to the paper accounting system when the reality is we have tons of food and tons of land and houses.. but the paper accounting system says we don’t have enough so we need to make people starve to death.

They will game the system whenever possible, and they’ll encourage the tyranny of the ultraminority – after all, the majority of people were not conservative even when the conservatives manage to capture both houses and the presidency. The conservatives are just willing to do more awful things – as they demonstrate day after day

They also repeatedly lie using their media and then claim that it is the liberal media that is lying. It’s demonstrable that they lie, but their followers just carefully forget all the lies. I am sure there’s a fair amount of brainwashing / emotional illogic agreeing that goes on every time their followers listen to Fox And Friends or Rush – and of course a lot of their followers carefully ignore any data point that indicates they are wrong.

The question is just, is there any way to totally disempower them or at the least ensure they only have as much power as a fair vote would grant them? The problem here is they are willing to do awful things – probably eventually including calling for the murder of liberals – in order to get their way. They need spanked, badly, but I am not sure how to spank them. They *want* a civil war – they would love to shoot millions of us. There’s no reason to think either side would win in a civil war, either – it’s something everyone would lose.

The irony is they are the people that talk the loudest about words like ‘Freedom’ – but of course that only means you are free if you think like them. And they wrap their authoritarianism and willingness to cheat in the flag – just look at Mitch claiming all his awfulness is patriotic.

Down With Apps

Monday, March 8th, 2021

So, one of the things that really irritates me is when a company only offers functionality via apps. This is especially a problem with IOT devices, most of which will end up in the dump in a few years when there’s no way to install the app that enables them to be configured any more, but it’s also a problem with functionality in general.

There’s some major problems with requiring functionality to require a app to be installed

A: There’s some serious privacy concerns. Most people don’t read the list of privileges the app will have, and they can easily include access to the camera, filesystem, radio modem, etc. Even if the app just sends TCP traffic, the user seldom has much control over what that traffic includes, and that traffic can definitely be identifying

B: It is yet another way that the modern world tries to get you locked into upgrade train. At some point the app developers will stop supporting older operating systems and you will be forced to buy a new phone just to run a app you’re required to have in order to access $FUNCTIONALITY.

C: It is yet another way the modern world tries to get you locked into the throwaway economy, in that the manufacturers will stop maintaining apps for devices and they will become unavailable, at which point the devices will be unconfigurable and have to be replaced.

D: Most of the apps I’ve seen are ridiculously bloated. Taco bell needs 100 megs so I can order a taco? Many of them are also massively wasteful of CPU and/or poorly written. Most of them have at least one bug that will crash the app.

E: As a side effect of #D, there’s no chance that the developers know all the library code that’s in all the apps, or that the end users do. So, the apps also act as a security concern in that they may include libraries with security weaknesses that not even the developers are likely to know about

F: Apps are – generally – not friendly to the blind. There’s also the question of whether we should *require* people to have a smartphone in order to participate in the modern world. A particular company I’d like to underline who has done this but has absolutely no excuse for it is Venmo, who has chosen to remove the payment functionality from their web site in order to force users to install their app – probably partially because they can then sell private data about those users. I have reported them to the ADA in the hopes that it gets them forced to return the functionality to their web site.

In general, I am against the idea of installable apps in favor of web sites. A lot of apps are really just web sites wrapped, and with html5 increasingly we can get access to specialized hardware like GPS and video cameras without needing to install anything.

It strikes me as a dystopian world that requires people to own, not just a smartphone, but perpetually newer models of smartphone in order to participate. I think as end users we should collectively refuse to install apps whenever possible.

Another subject of dystopia that I should discuss in the future is the forced “upgrade” to newer and often worse versions of user interfaces.

Saturday, February 27th, 2021

So, one thing I forget that a movie I was watching reminded me of – the USA and the USSR are in essence holding a gun to the head of every person on the planet. If we were to ever have a nuclear exchange, the resulting nuclear winter would kill most of the people here. And we, of course, are selfish enough to think that capitalism and our perverse, twisted variant of Christianity are worth threatening everyone in the world.

We should voluntarily put down our gun.. but we won’t, because if there’s two defining traits of the USA’s military machine, they are selfishness and stupidity.

This is part of why I have so much trouble when people post their “if you like your freedom, thank my daddy” memes. Because the US army doesn’t fight for freedom – they fight to perpetuate slavery. We’ve overthrown free democracies in order to install our preferred autocratic leaders, we’ve killed millions of people in wars that were started over lies so our war machine could profit. I don’t understand how people can remain blind to all this.

Immigration : the big lie

Friday, February 26th, 2021

So, one of the standard lies that conservatives push is that illegal immigrants “steal jobs”. This is a convenient thing for the conservative leaders to have gotten them to believe, but it doesn’t hold a lot of water. The same people are still doing the same jobs they always have.

What’s actually going on is that the US has carefully restricted immigration while continuing to advertise for i.e. farm workers in other countries, *knowing* that some would be desperate enough to become “illegal” and therefore have a major lack of rights. The existence of “illegals” does in fact hurt US workers insofar as the bosses are always going to choose a employee they can abuse over one they can’t – but in fact the best solution is just to grant citizenship to all of them. They’re not stealing jobs US workers are likely to take or even have the skills to take – and allowing them to bargain for better working conditions is to *everyone’s* advantage (see repeated discussions about how the rich do not actually understand how money works / are apparently morons or incapable of really large scale thinking). If these people have more money, they are not likely to hoard it, they will spend it – either by sending it home or by spending it in the USA. Either way, it will be increasing the velocity of money and therefore increasing the number of good things that get done.

If Joe Sixpack would like to look for who has “stolen” his jobs, he should probably look towards advancements in manufacturing and automation.

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

So, one thing I should probably be more clear on. While I rant repeatedly about republicans here, for the most part I mean the people actually in power. Granted, I am also sad at the people who put them there, and I do feel as if *real* conservatives have been totally deplatformed. I don’t agree with real conservatives, but I don’t think they’re evil. They just have a different definition of utopia than I do, which is kind of a one man’s heaven is another man’s hell sort of thing. The people who I loathe are the people who have risen to the top of the republican party, and who show a distinct delight in dirty deeds, a willingness to cheat, a complete lack of honor or morals, and that kind of thing. Not the man on the street.

For that matter, for all the denigration of the folks who broke into the capitol on the 6th – if the things they had believed were true, they would have been heroes. The real villians on the 6th where the lying president and the willing-to-cosign-his-BS republican leadership. The people who broke into the capital are mostly guilty of being gullible and easily lied to – something that we all have probably been a time or two.