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For fun, I debunk political disinformation pushed by the left and right in American politics.

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March 6, 2014

If Anything Interesting Happens at the California Democratic Convention in LA, I'll Let You Know...

I'm attending the California Democratic Convention in Los Angeles this weekend. It's unclear how much actually "news" or Democrat-on-Democrat political fighting will occur, but if anything fun happens I'll let you know.

You can follow me on Twitter at my main account, @njudah where I'll hashtag the relevant entries with #cadem2014. If anything warrants a longer form post, I'll post here from some hotel computer. It should provide for at least some entertainment, if nothing else.

I've been going to most of these things since 2003, depending on where they're located, and often I find just talking to the various people working behind the scenes, I learn a bit more than just what makes the daily news. Thus, I'll pass along any interesting details, should they pop up!

October 14, 2013

The Yahoo Mail Fiasco: Yet Another Example of Silicon Valley's Endless Commitment to "Fiddling", not "Innovating"

Turned on the Internet this morning and it seems there was a firestorm of criticism being leveled at Yahoo.com for their changes to their long time Yahoo Mail service. Reading the coverage, it sounds pretty bad for those who relied on this service.

I haven't used Yahoo mail much in years (although in the late 90s/early 2000s I relied on a primitive but reliable version of the service when I traveled).

After reading some of the specifics, I have to say I'm not really that surprised. Yahoo is under a lot of pressure to reinvent it self, and fast and start making something called "money" to justify all those salaries that ride the Yahoo Bus** south every day.

Unfortunately, they seem to have chosen the route that is common for companies, big and small in this so called "tech"*** sector - pay lots of people to endlessly fiddle around with a product, changing details big and small, and often, to seem like they are doing something, when they're really not.

It would be unfair, however, to simply play the "let's beat on poor dying Yahoo" game. Take a look at the Pain in the Ass known as ios7. Apple too, chose to add lots of gadgety bullshit we didn't need (really, did I need my home screen to look like it's in "3D") and added an endless array of setting, pretty pictures and such. They also took a lot of the ease of use that was the hallmark of previous iOS's (iOSes?).

It doesn't really hit you until you use someone's phone using iOS6 and you realize Apple in the post-Jobs era that this, like other products from the tech*** world was a classic example of fiddling by committee, not creating any true innovation. One can only wonder if Mr. Jobs would have really approved.

Oh, but we could go on. Facebook? HA! They took "fiddling" to a whole new level - how many times have they made revisions based on all sorts of BS. Remember when the directive was a vague notion to "be more like Twitter!" a few years ago? No? Well then how about the endless ticky tacky settings regarding "privacy" users have faced since the beginning?

Don't get me wrong - not all companies do this and there are many mobile applications, online services and so on that actually do something useful and do continue to improve such products. Square comes to mind for its usefulness for independent merchants and those splitting the check at the restaurant, for example.

That said, it would be nice if we perhaps saw some of the Really Big Companies with Lots of Salaries tone down the fiddling, and get back to work making their products more useful.

For now, I'll continue to use only the ones that work (free or not) and avoid the fiddlers.

**Same goes for everyone on one of those GoogleYahooFacebookBauer bus things.

***This is really for another entire post, but I think we have to stop describing the majority of these companies that call themselves "tech" as such, and instead call them for what they are - advertising companies.

The "products" are not really the services they purport to provide (Google Mail, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, etc) - that's a secondary use. What they are really selling are their users who will look at said ads and supposedly click on them or whatever to buy something later on.

There's no shame in that at all - I used to work for a company that bought online ads all the time and there's many options for advertisers out there that didn't exist 10 years ago. However, let's not suggest these "tech" companies are on a par with those companies that built the US space program, create new medicines that cure disease, or build the many, many weapons that Americans like and seem to need.

February 6, 2013

Why The Decision to Cut Saturday Mail Is Not Only Stupid, But Also Makes No Sense

Why The Decision to Cut Saturday Mail Is Not Only Stupid, But Also Makes No Sense

If you haven't heard, the US Postal Service will no longer deliver mail on Saturdays. This is a stupid idea, but not for the reasons you might think. The cause is also a bit more complex than what your "friends" in Congress and on TV would have you believe.

First: why this is stupid. For many years I worked with the US Postal Service producing large direct mail projects for candidates and organizations around the country. During that time I got to learn a lot about how the USPS actually works, and learned a lot from executives at the USPS whose job was to work with high volume mail producers to expedite their projects as efficiently as possible.

One thing that was made abundantly clear was that the one day of the week that the USPS had the least to do was Tuesday. This was for a number of unrelated reasons, owing mostly to how people pay their bills (especially credit cards) and when businesses would mail out fliers and other such things for weekly sales specials. The point is, if the USPS must cut service, cutting Tuesday makes more sense for them, and for you, the customer.

Removing Saturday mail causes more problems than it solves. Many people are busy during the week and use Saturday to get caught up on chores and the like. Not everyone can, or will, pay all their bills online, and getting rid of Saturday service is just going to make things more miserable during the week than they need to be. If you have a US Post Office box, you may or may no longer have access to it on weekends like you do now.

Worse, when you consider that many jurisdictions are openly encouraging "vote-by-mail," and some states voting by mail only it doesn't take a genius to see how killing mail on Saturdays could be worse than killing it on Tuesday. (I know that doesn't seem to make sense, but if you spend enough time at huge mail facilities, trust me, it does).

There's more, however. In addition to competition from online services and the ongoing Great Depression "Recession," the USPS has been prohibited from providing additional services in your neighborhood, the USPS has an unprecedented mandate to fund a huge pension fund. They've been ordered to fund 75 years worth of pensions RIGHT NOW, something no other pension fund is required to do .

Needless to say, if you want to know where all the money is going , it isn't going to postal service - it's going to fund a pension fund in a way no other fund has to comply with. So far, few in Congress have spoken out, with the notable exception of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). have tried to speak out, but of course the chorus of the Know Nothing Party, and the Spineless Corporate Party tend to drown him out on the tv.

For those who sing the siren song of "privatize it," I'll simply leave you with how well that's worked overseas. If you've ever had the stalwart efficiency of private monopolized internet service and cable tv providers in the US, or their esteemed counterparts in the health care industry, then you already can guess how well that would work here.

For decades our postal service has served us fairly well. Yes, it's frustrating when there's a long line, and a service that has to serve everyone, regardless of where they live, isn't going to run perfectly. To see it get destroyed by the morons in Congress for the sake of a quasi-religious devotion to doctrine, however, is not only stupid, it makes no sense.

September 19, 2012

Another "Skinheads Vs. Geraldo" Battle: PG&E vs the Shell Game Called "SF Clean Energy"

Here we go again. Another San Francisco style cluster-frak in progress.

Let's be clear - I now hate PG&E. After the way they totally f*cked up the pipeline situation in San Bruno, BS-ed their way about it, and caused so much damage, any past ties with these guys was done. Needless to say to have the concept of a "choice" to go elsewhere on its face should be like, awesome.

Enter San Francisco's classic way to ruin things for the benefit of the politicians: the so-called Clean Energy SF "program." It sounds all so politically correct - SF will "build" clean energy sources and people can choose them. OMG TEH AWESOME!

There's just one problem - we're trading one Big Energy giant for another. Worse, we're going to see our power bills go up, at a time when many people can't afford it. Even WORSE, you are going to be told to do as you're told. If you want out, you'll have to file papers and pay money to say "no." (so "progressive" and "democratic.")

In other words, it's the classic "Skinheads vs. Geraldo" Battle: you like the idea that Geraldo Rivera gets his nose broken because he's a jerkwad, but you hate the fact you are rooting for stupid skinhead nazis because they did it. In the end you wish you could root for someone to kick both their asses, because they both suck.

There are many pluses to energy that doesn't require dead dinosaurs to make things happen - after all, I've promoted these at the N-Judah Chronicles because only an idiot thinks that gasoline and coal will be cheap for ever, and an economy based on dead dinosaurs, is, well, gonna die.

Fine and fine.That said, the mad desire of a few progressive politicians, who continue to use City Hall as the stage for stunts to improve their chances for higher office (all on the public's dime) is poisoning good public policy. I don't need my power bill doubled, all to service the corporate masters at Shell Oil to boost their prospects - especially if the goal is public power, we already have the solution. It's called, the Hetch Hetchy system.

Now, oddly enough, the same "pwogwessive activists" who are on fire to give Shell Oil a death grip on ratepaying citizens in SF, are also the ones who want to pay for a "study" (oh see how it always starts as a "study" by people who predetermine the outcome before they start) to dismantle Hetch Hetcy, which provides cheap, non-carbon producing power that makes Muni run and electrifies City agencies.

See what they did there?

One has to wonder whose of pockets got lined on this deal - Shell gets your utility bill and jacks it up, and can burn cow poop if it likes, and can still call it "clean energy" - even if in fact that's bullsh*t.

Sorry, friends, but if you fall for this one, you'll have only yourself to blame for high power bills powered by burning cow poo. If you give promotions to the likes of John Avalos, David Campos and other "progressive" ilk, then you have no one but yourselves to blame as well. Do you really think they care about you at all? Think again - to them you are nothing but trained seals to clap when nice things and a few fish are tossed your way. Meanwhile they laugh all the way to the bank.

As for I, I will opt out of this scam for sure, and I'll happily sign up for any other energy concern that uses non-dead dinosaur, non-polluting sources to keep my iPhone charged. I won't, however allow my Muni to be forced to use expensive, shitty PG&E power to drive up Muni fares for the benefit of a few politicians who make six figures and don't care about the middle class. Mitt Romney isn't the only one that gives the finger to 47% of the country - in So-Called Progressive San Francisco, it's the left that's the side that says what's yours is theirs, regardless if you can afford to pay.

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