Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Why this blog has been quiet...

Well, I'm not posting much on this blog at this time. For my current thoughts on the world, please see the public posts on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/timoey.

Also I'm currently posting status on my 2016 adventure to achieve zero waste at http://ecopractice.blogspot.com/.

Thanks!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Marriage Equality

The US is at a historic crossroads that will separate the bigots from those who truly believe:
1) "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,..." and
2) "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

I will be ashamed of the US Supreme Court and our nation if we do not unequivocally support equality.

No one is harmed by marriage equality, but millions will benefit from it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

California 2012 November 6 Propositions

I hope all voters in California will read the propositions and vote!

Voting "no" on all of them because you don't believe in the proposition process is a cop out. These propositions are a valuable part of our democratic system in action and we all get to make direct choices ourselves that have real impact! (And not push it off to someone else to make a decision for us)

Please vote based on the merits of each and not based on prejudices.

Here is how I'm voting. I hope you'll support my positions :-)

YES!! -- Prop. 30, Increase in sales tax and higher earners' income tax to fund education -- a reasonable tax proposal that is needed to fund education.

Yes -- Prop. 31, Two-Year Budget Cycle -- not perfect but is moving in the right direction to fix CA budget process.

No -- Prop. 32, Ban on corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates -- deceptive.

NO -- Prop. 33, Change in auto insurance regulation -- a big insurance company is trying to fool voters again.

YES!!!! -- Prop. 34, Repeal death penalty -- too many mistakes, saves a lot of money, life with no parole is sufficient (and much less expensive).

Yes -- Prop. 35, Stronger law against human trafficking.

YES!! -- Prop. 36, Changes to three-strikes law -- saves money, reduces prison overcrowding and prevents nonsensical 3 strikes situations.

Yes -- Prop. 37, Labeling of GMO foods -- although mixed, this is a step in the right direction and we need to be more careful.

Yes -- Prop. 38, Increase in higher earners' income tax for education -- Prop 30 is better, but we are much better if at least one wins rather than neither. This is a change in my original position.

Yes -- Prop. 39, Sets one method of tax calculation for all businesses -- helps keep businesses in California.

YES!!! -- Prop. 40, Maintain citizens' redistricting -- no system is perfect but this system is more balanced than the alternatives. Plus a "No" vote changes the status quo whereas a "Yes" vote leaves things alone (this measure was engineered so that those who just always vote "No" on everything will be tricked into causing a change -- and a bad one in this case).


For additional information on the CA propopistions, see:
CA Official Voter Guide: http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/propositions/
Ballotpedia.org: http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_2012_ballot_propositions
SJ Mercury News recommendations: http://www.mercurynews.com/recommendations
SF Chronical recommendations: http://www.sfgate.com/propositions/
KQED perspectives: http://blogs.kqed.org/election2012/category/ballot-measures/ 
CA Council of Churches: http://churchimpact.org/2012/08/29/november-ballot-proposition-recommendations/

[10/7/2012: Added links to KQED & CA Council of Churches]
[10/20/2012: Changed my position on 38 from no to yes]

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Making the Best Better on the 4th


Holidays, especially the 4th of July, are great opportunities to reflect on where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. Our great nation has accomplished much, yet still has far to go.

Here are the most important areas where I think we, as the United States of America, can improve so that our children and children’s children will have a better future.

Education – All should be able to get a good education regardless of their economic situation. Well-educated citizens are critical for a successful democracy. Education helps our nation make the most of its human resources. Public education and libraries helped build the foundation that made our country great.

To improve our educational system we should greatly increase teacher salaries, reward teachers based on performance, measure performance in ways beyond just standardized tests, and remove tenure for elementary, middle school, and high school teachers.

Prisons – We should minimize the number of people that must go to prison by ensuring they are educated and prepared to get whatever job they are best suited to do. Prisons should work on reforming and educating criminals to become productive citizens rather than be warehouses for punishment that foster criminals teaching crime to other criminals.

Housing large numbers of prisoners is expensive and a drain on society when those people could be productive citizens. The prison system should be rewarded based on reducing criminals and maximizing good citizens rather than locking them up indefinitely. We cannot afford this. Some resort to crime because there are no other good alternatives.  Better education is a good place to prevent criminal behavior. Reform and education must be emphasized for those who slip thru while indefinite lockup is reserved for those that cannot be reformed. The death penalty should be abolished because it is far too expensive as well as error prone with no recourse.

Health Care – Everyone should be covered by basic healthcare so valuable human resources are kept healthier (in better working condition) and are treated through less expensive preventative or timely curative treatments rather than expensive and last ditch emergency care. A stitch in time saves nine.

The Affordable Health Care Act was a step in the right direction. Encouraging Health Maintenance Organizations over traditional health insurance is even more cost effective and efficient.

Taxation – Taxes are not evil. They are investments in our government and our shared infrastructure so we can enjoy a more stable, safe, and productive community and society. We must embrace reasonable taxes and not keep dodging them at all costs. Endless tax cutting ends up hurting all of us. The wealthy have automatic advantages over the poor and also benefit immensely from a stable society that consumes their goods and services. It is a good thing for the wealthy to pay proportionately more in taxes than the poor.

To better use tax revenue, we need to balance our budget and put performance metrics in place so our government is naturally rewarded for effectiveness and efficiency. Legislation should focus more on outcomes rather than the hows. Let government professionals figure out how to maximize results just as we let the free market economy figure out how to best satisfy demand.  The City of Sunnyvale is a good example of performance metrics as well as a balanced budget in action. Please also note that the vast majority of government workers are middle class and few if any are wealthy. Tax dollars directly employ a larger number of people in government than concentrating wealth in the hands of a few.

Civil Rights – Everyone is entitled to equal rights and equal protection under the law. We are close to achieving this beautiful vision as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

Yes, any two consenting adults should be entitled to marry and enjoy the economic, legal, family, and child rearing benefits of such a union.

Democracy – This is the most sustainable form of government yet invented. A “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is the only practical way to govern people as they do it through their own choices rather than being told what to do by others.

We need to have positive policies to foster democracy abroad as well as encourage our populace to participate actively in our own democracy. The legal system that supports our democracy is the best defense we have against corruption.

Sustainability – Our resources are not unlimited. Resources include energy, materials, space, and time. We all must strive to budget ourselves so we make the best use of the limited resources we have and hold ourselves accountable before nature itself forces us to be accountable.  Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Our government is in the best position to put checks and balances in place to ensure we do not overly abuse our environment. Protecting our environment is extremely important yet too long term an objective to be otherwise factored into our free market economy.

Poverty – This is really the bottom line. Better managing all of the above will help reduce poverty and the inequitable distribution of wealth. When none of us want for basic needs, there will be less war and less crime. Having wealth widely distributed benefits us all. It only stands to reason. No one should want for adequate food, clothing, shelter, or health care.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Security alert: Email accounts under attack

Here is an article I wrote for AYSO, but it applies to everyone. Since many close friends and family have been hacked recently, I'm posting it again here. Yahoo email accounts (and thus Pacbell and ATT too) seem particularly vulnerable. I think there is some fundamental flaw in Yahoo email security that has yet to be discovered and fixed by Yahoo.

Please read and take action!

------------

Email account hacking is an epidemic that is effecting just about everyone. If you haven't been hacked yet, review your security measures to make sure your account is hacker proof.

If your email account is broken into, your account will be used to send dangerous or misleading spam emails to all your friends. Your email archives and address books may be deleted. Your stored emails may reveal sensitive information about you as well as others that can be used to break into other accounts owned by you and your friends. All of your other accounts and your friends accounts will be attacked using the information in your email archives

From interviewing many of the people whose accounts were hacked, the most common theme is passwords that were less than 10 characters long -- often just 8 characters. It is also possible their computers were infected but most had up-to-date virus software. Some have had old operating systems or browsers.

All AYSO volunteers should do their part to keep AYSO information safe and secure by using strong passwords for their email and AYSO accounts and ensuring their computers are secured and kept safe. This will protect your own personal information as well!!

Some key tips:
1) Keep your computer(s) malware-free by using good virus protection software and only installing software from safe sources.
2) Keep your operating system and web browsers current with the latest releases that have had security holes patched.
3) Do NOT click on links to suspicious sites. Those sites may be able to attack your computer simply by visiting them.
4) Never have your web browser save your passwords. This stores passwords in insecure locations where malware can get them.
5) Use different strong passwords for every account you have.

What is a strong password?

Strong passwords:
1) are long -- ideally 16 characters or more (sentences can be memorable strong passwords);
2) use many different characters -- upper and lower case letters, numbers, and even punctuation or other special characters;
3) are unique – use a different password for each account (so if one account is compromised that password cannot be used to break into other accounts);
4) are hard to guess -- not something that is easily discovered about you like your dog's name or your mother's maiden name – which also means you should treat your security questions just like passwords (!);
5) are changed periodically.

If you have more than 2-3 passwords, doing the above and remembering them is challenging.

Many of us have a dozen or more online accounts between email, AYSO, banks, credit cards, Facebook, and more. How can you remember many different strong passwords for each of these accounts?  You could write them down on a piece of paper, but if you do please store it securely and make a copy (backup) in case you lose it. A better solution is to use a password manager to handle your strong passwords so you just need to remember one password -- for the password manager itself. One of the best password managers is LastPass (https://LastPass.com).

LastPass can remember all of your passwords and it also:
1) enters web usernames and passwords automatically so you don't have to type them (saves you significant typing and mistyping);
2) generates strong passwords of any length;
3) backs itself up automatically to a secure location so your passwords are available to you (and only you) on as many computers as you wish (even if your computer is stolen);
4) prevents phishing/spoof attacks by distinguishing valid websites (where it is safe to enter passwords) from invalid ones;
5) is your safe deposit box in the sky for other critical but sensitive bits of information (account numbers, PINs, combinations, etc);
6) is itself very secure (reviewed by many independent security experts and companies); and
7) is free and easy to use!!

For additional password managers and safe computing practices, please read:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/208113/best_password_managers_top_4_reviewed.html
and
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/01/hack-proof-your-passwords/index.htm

Thanks for doing your part to protect yourself and your AYSO team!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Crystal Cox, yes she's a scammer...

The proof is in the pudding and people tend to hoist themselves by their own petard.


Crystal Cox, who claimed to be a blogger-journalist, has shown through her own actions that she is not one, but really a scammer and extortionist.


Please see the smear campaign she is attempting against the 3 year old daughter of a friend of mine:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/04/02/ugly-new-reputation-smearing-tactic-going-after-a-toddlers-internet-footprint/


Please also read:

http://phillylawblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/crystal-cox-investigative-blogger-no-more-like-a-scammer-and-extortionist/

and:

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/judge-clarifies-that-bloggers-can-be-journalists-just-not-one-in-particular/


Even if she were a journalist, that does not protect false speech:

http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/155809/debate-about-crystal-cox-blogging-case-misses-a-key-legal-point/


Despite the online harassment, Marc Randazza is a man of principal and noted today on Facebook:

It is extortion. But... ...I am trying to "Walk the walk" when it comes to the First Amendment. The typical response would be criminal charges or civil complaints. I want to show that we can cure bad speech with good speech. Let lies and smears fade in the sunlight of truth. I've preached it my whole life. I need to stay on the path now more than ever.”


Thankfully the light of truth and justice is shining very brightly on Crystal Cox now.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

This is a tragedy for all sides that highlights many current issues.

1) Racial prejudices are not just black and white. Minorities are not automatically immune from prejudice. Race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical appearance and even what you say may result in unjust prejudice.

2) Guns kill. Easily. If neither George nor Trayvon had a gun, someone may have gotten bruised but likely no one would have been killed. Our current society has evolved beyond everyone needing a gun. Do we all really need guns for our own personal version of mutually assured destruction? The US Constitution needs to be updated to match current needs, not ones from 200 years ago. We are no longer the wild west. However, many are blinded by their irrational fears, leading to irrational consequences.

3) Florida has a law that allows you to commit murder legally. In Florida, get a gun, pick your target, follow them, challenge them so they "threaten" you, then stand your ground and shoot to kill so you can claim self defense. The Stand Your Ground law, while it sounds good in theory, is a pretty bad one in practice.

4) If you see a possible crime, report it to the police and follow their advice! Don't take matters into your own hands unless there is clear imminent danger to someone and there is no time to wait for professionals. It takes considerable presence of mind to do the right thing at the right time.

From what I know of this case, I think perhaps George had good intentions but his prejudices overly influenced him. Plus having a gun lead to the disastrous result of an innocent young boy losing his life. This is likely a case of a do-gooder getting carried away and doing evil instead.

It can be difficult and costly to get to the truth of a situation. Science as well as our legal system may move slowly and be expensive, but generally they result in the best truth we are capable of in their respective domains -- if not corrupted by money or power. Yes that is a big IF.

"Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is the best of all to be sane and happy. Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future."
- Arthur C. Clarke

Sincerely,
Tim