Read any good banned books lately?While I'm not completely in agreement with the American Library Association on their interpretation of free speech and freedom of the press, it's always fascinating to read through their list of the most commonly banned books in the United States.
For example, on their 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 there are some pretty surprising entries, including Nobel Laureate Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, John Steinbeck's powerful Of Mice and Men, J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Madeleine L'Engle's wonderful A Wrinkle in Time, and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Some of the banned books, of course, aren't any surprise at all, including The New Joy of Gay Sex, Sex, Daddy's Roommate, Heather has Two Mommies, and even a book that figures in many amusing CIA conspiracy theories, The Anarchist Cookbook.
Apple's Airport Express and the Wireless Hotel RoomFor the first time, I traveled with my new Apple Airport Express device, for a few nights at the beautiful Renaissance Parc 55 hotel in San Francisco. And the unit worked wonderfully! The biggest issue I noticed is that the hotel wireless network, Wayport, expects to be hooked up directly to a laptop, so the very first day when I signed up for the service required me to physically hook my Apple PowerBook into the Ethernet jack.
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Just when I'd completely given up hope: Yahoo! comes throughFor at least a year I've been writing that people should submit their site listings to Yahoo! but not hold their breath: the odds of getting your listing added to Yahoo! without paying their ridiculous fee of $299 seemed vanishingly thin. Further, I've also written about how Yahoo! has lost its way, getting so excited about being a Media Company that they've forgotten to lavish any attention on their online directory, the heart of their ostensible empire.
So you can imagine my surprise when I received the following email message...
Paranoia as a healthy tech lifestyle choiceA pal of mine was telling me via an instant message utility how she's staying with family and while she's stuck on dial-up while at the house, she's found an Internet café in town where she can use their computers for higher speed access. That's all well and good, I responded, but a public access computer is the last place I'd feel safe with any critical computer information like accounts and passwords.
Think about how many "sniffer" programs are out there, how many spyware apps, how much malicious malware is floating about. If you use a public computer, you really have to assume that it's compromised already and that anything you type is being squirreled away for some kiddie to analyze and deconstruct a few days down the road.
The Conundrum of an "Informed Populace" and DemocracyI went to the polls today here in Colorado -- I never miss a chance to cast my ballot in an election -- and it again struck me how impossible a challenge we have trying to maintain any sort of representative democracy in this country. There I was, staring at a paper that listed names and offices, and I had no idea about any of them, had no information available to me about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the candidates, and hadn't even a one sentence bio/campaign promise statement from any of them.
In a contest where the candidates have lots of money, odds would be pretty good that some sort of fliers or other material would wind up in my mailbox, but can I trust election materials produced by candidates? (and then again, would I vote for someone whose material I didn't trust? Would you?) Failing that, the options are to check with various biased media sources, each of which have an agenda that doesn't match my own interests and beliefs, to get their perspective on the candidates.
It's the dilemma of the Informed Populace that has tripped me up each and every time there's an election: how do I know what I'm really voting for or against? How do I know who these people really are, and whether I can trust them to represent either my own views on the world or at least those views that are sufficiently congruent with mine that the country will move in a direction that I like?
The next time you're at the polls, standing with a ballot in your hand, ask yourself how much objective (or at least quasi-objective) information do you have that can help you make an informed, thoughtful, and responsible choice?
And yet, even with all that, vote! Whether the process is optimal or not, it's a clear truism that not voting means you have even less voice and really have precious little basis for complaining or kvetching about the state of the country, at least in my eyes.
Another Layer of Blog Spam: BacklinksI was surprised and dismayed to get the following message this afternoon:
Your site The Intuitive Life (http://www.intuitive.com/blog/) has recently been linked to by voyeur webcam blog (link removed because, well, I don't want to link to this garbage from my weblog) using the www.blogLinker.com system.Lovely, eh?
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