I Am The 99%

One of they rallying cry of the Occupy Wall Street movement is “We are the 99%.” People are taking that message to online communities such as Reddit. For example, on the popular image subreddit pics people are posting images of handwritten “I Am The 99” stories. Some of them are incredibly touching and immensely moving.

Here are some links to moreā€¦



Imagine No Religion

To some Penn Jillette, the Las Vegas-based magician, is a celebrity. He has over a million followers on Twitter and he even has an show on the interwebs. So of course, with credentials like that, he is more than qualified to set the world straight in terms of what is wrong with it. On September 11, 2010, Penn Jillete posted the following tweet which was retweetn well over on hundred times…

Imagine no religion.

With all the discussion about terrorism, Ground Zero Mosque, September 11th, and the ongoing war, these three little words upset me the most. With statements like this, I don’t considere Penn Jillette anyone of high regard, I see only blindness and nativity in people that think like this. By no means am I a religious nut, or even religious for that matter, but I find extremely offensive the idead that all religions are mideval beliefs based on mythology with archaic rituals that are to blame for much of wars fought. Religion is not the cause of wars and strife and holocausts, the cause of such crimes are people. To be honest, much of the ethnic cleansing has been done in the name of progress by secular intellectuals, people not too unlike Penn Jillette, with his absolutism and answers to the worlds problems. If people don’t discriminate based on religion, the would based on their tax bracket, If people did not discriminate bases on skin color they would based on the size of their sex organs, if they didn’t discriminate based on religion try would on their choice of extra curricular activities. Yes, I could imagine a world with no religion but the death toll would not change, the towers would still have come down, we still would be fighting a war half the world away, and Penn Jillette would still be a pin head.

The Ground Zero Mosque

All rights, including freedom of speech, have limitations and building a mosque near Ground Zero is the architectural equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded building. All Americans have the right to practice their faith in the accordance with his or her believes but they do not the the right to impose said beliefs upon any other person. There have been numerous cases where an establish religious organization has tried to put a symbol of their faith in clear public view. In many situations, the religious symbols have been forcibly removed under court order. Issues not unlike this have already gone to the supreme court.
In 2009, the US Supreme Court heard a case about a cross put up to honor fallen veterans. In the middle of a desert, this cross stood to pay homage to our war dead, and someone was offended enough to take the issue to the Supreme Court.
Cases like this have come up in court before, even though there is a separation between church and state, it doesn’t mean that one can impose their believes on others and place religious symbols in public view. Freedom of Speech also does not guarantee you unlimited and unfiltered speech. The classic example of the limits of Freedom of Speech is that one can’t yell fire in a crowded building. Building a a mosque in the ashes of Ground Zero is the architectural equivalent of yelling, “In yo face, bitches.” Islam is not unique to building religious structures over the those of other peoples. There is little coincidence that the Dome of the Rock is built over looking the ruins of the Jewish sacred places. This is not unique to Islam, conquistadores in Mexico built much of their colonial cathedrals using the same building block used to house mesoamerican gods.
The wounds of September 11 will take a long time to heal and all that went though it should pray together not build apart. We should build bridges not walls, and if you think you are building a bridge make sure you block the view of the locals!
Lest we forget, peace be to all the peoples of the book, even those that got the abridge edition!

Computer Error Led to 50 Plus Visits from the Police

The home of an elderly couple in Brooklyn, New York was visited by police “50 or so” times over a span of 8 years. If you’ve had the police come for a visit, you would know that they don’t bearing gifts. When the police come a knocking, they might pound your door in with a battering ram and kill you dogs. So you can only imagine what fright the retired couple had to endure. The numerous police visits where traced to a software glitch in a computer system used by the New York Police to track crime complaints and criminal activity. As it is customary for Associated Press reports, there is very little information or follow up on the nature of the software system in question. The exact details behind the computer error were not given, other to say that the error started in 2002 when the police upgrade from a manual process to an automated computer system.

From working with a variety of computer systems, I know how an error like this can potentially have been introduced. Often times, when working on a new software feature, you have test said features but with fake data. A common practice is to simulate a small portion of the computer system with fake data to mock the environment. In the worst situations, actual test data or test conditions are hard coded in the actual application. If fake test data is embedded in a production system, like that used by the New York Police, their might be certain conditions like a certain date or time or report type that will trigger the test data to percolate to the surface.

Along this lines, I have seen certain feature in a computer system not function correctly because it is installed in a Windows Vista as opposed to Windows Vista, or that on leap years it behaves erraticly, or that if you installed it on the D: drive as opposed to the C: drive you won’t be able to save files, etc.

As we wrap database and computer systems around every piece of personal data, from credit report to no fly lists, it is important to design them in such a way to limit the number potential victims of said systems. For example, if you are a victim of identity theft you will have to go to great lengths to clear your name and credit history because of how these systems are replicated and copied and ultimately considered to never be wrong.