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And Then Came Friday Evening

When the summer cold that BG and I have been carefully cultivating landed on me with both feet.

The downside: I'm going to be loopy from cold meds all day, so if you see me, discount about 17% of my weirdness.

The upside: It is possible that, loopy from cold meds, I snuck out of the Liberal Enclave last night and carefully pre-moistened and then coughed on every doorknob in the Right Online's Wingnut Enclave.

You're welcome.

Social Media Misuse That Could Cost You Big Time

Social media is a combination of human interaction through web applications where people produce their own content, mold their own experience, and define their online presence. A loose definition of social media is that it’s like a country, people gather and interact with massive amounts of people from their area and abroad. It’s really a broad place, both wonderful and terrible depending on your use of it.

That said, there are many people out there (both individuals and groups) that are very adept at misusing the powers of social media. Read on and be one of the people who understand just how terrible things can be if social media is misused. I am no social media “expert” and probably never will be, most of what I am to say is derived from my own experience of being a netizen. By all means please criticize!

What’s at Stake?

1. Your soul

If you have a huge audience and you make one little blunder, people will strike you with their pitchforks.

2. Your integrity

Huge claims, especially in public, can easily be cross-examined.

3. Your job

People have lost their jobs because of a single tweet!

4. Your future

People remember. What you share now with people can haunt you several years from now. I know because I’ve been a victim of my own foolishness.

In Business Marketing

Many businesses, both online and offline, have engaged in using Social Media for more exposure. This is a delight to marketers since the audience they want is crammed up in a few places: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others. The problem? Many fail to realize that what people engaged in Social Media do is talk to people, who in turn, actually converse with them too. Not just one-way communication. This is where marketers fail, they set up their Social Media accounts and simply post their updates there and don’t mind their fans or followers. “What? You’re shouting something? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome I am!”

Some shady marketers would resort to spamming Twitter and other networking sites. What’s worse is there are websites that you need to “like” before they grant you access to their content. $%#&^!!

I’ve been a Twitter user for almost 2 years now and since I’ve been one, I have received mentions with links to some shady websites. “Hey, @ueharataichou you should check this!” and being innocent I always clicked.


Give me a name of a person who spends several hours a week on social networking sites and I can probably make you believe that I’m a psychic. Always keep in mind that whatever you do online, you are shaping your online persona –  of how people understand who you are. Often, people would share snippets of their personal lives on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit (which has a more personal touch that is available to the public) and online forums. Why is this dangerous? People can easily identify where you live, what your preferences are, how you talk, who your friends are, and things that you thought would not hurt you by sharing it with the world. Two words: identity theft. Because social media is all about human interaction, every time you engage in it you’re leaving an impression of yourself with other people.

Now, what will follow is a personal qualm. It is absolutely okay to post photos, but not to the point where you’re damn near selling yourself. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen people post photos that are quite controversial, albums with over 200 photos of skimpy clothing. Not a model nor some star, just looking for likes. What for? </killmenow>


V for Vendetta

The good thing about anonymity over the internet is that you can tell people what you’re thinking without any reservation. The bad thing is, people are overusing it to the point where it is no longer welcomed by the society.

Pre-internet boom, con artists would study the person they’d want to impersonate and social engineer their friends or colleagues. I’ve watch a movie about Kevin Mitnick, one of the most notorious hackers turned security expert, about how he used social engineering to gain access to a company’s computer network. With enough confidence and knowledge of the person you are impersonating, you can gain more insights from other people. Dangerous, very dangerous, that’s why always keep in mind what you share.

Last year, my friends asked for my help because someone from Facebook was impersonating their friends. Reposting their photos, telling the world about their personal lives, plus posting unacceptable words online. This happened on three different occasions. One time, a high school teacher of mine was victimized by a certain group. Lesson? Be wary of who you add and mind your security/privacy settings.

Twitter, on the other hand, allows parody accounts as long as you tell the public that it’s a parody account.

At Work

During my last year in college, my friends and I were hired as interns in a web development company. Weeks have passed and the only task one of our friends did was to encode data, way off her job description. She asked the management why and was told that it’s just temporary while they fix things up. Nothing happened. Being young and stupid, we didn’t have the guts to make further comments in the workplace. What our friend did was to post her rants on Twitter, her tweets were only seen by confirmed followers. And the worst happened, a not-so-close friend of ours sold her out. Totally unnecessary because this woman who betrayed our trust only gained negative respect.

What does this tell us?

1. Be careful of what you post online.

2. Mind your own business.

Because if you do not, you’ll be messing with your life and the life of someone elses.

Compared to the people getting fired for their Facebook posts my story is nothing. But it gives you a clear view of how a simple tweet/post can lead to a disaster.


Maybe many users are over-saturated by the awesomeness of today’s technology that they tend to forget it’s not a game, but reality. People will say things they do not really mean, businesses will bombard their customers with unwarranted links, and the social media world will be overcrowded by confused people. Let us not do this.

Be always calm and collected. Always keep in mind that people tend to misunderstand lines of text because they don’t have accents and emotions.

Your Turn

I know, I know that there are some wild reactions out there. Again, I’m no expert. I’m merely telling you what I have observed and experienced firsthand. You have more to say? Let’s talk about it!


Lawyer shopping

There's been a lot of ironic and unpleasant news this week but this has to take the cake:

President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.

Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.

But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.
Other high-level Justice lawyers were also involved in the deliberations, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. supported Ms. Krass’s view, officials said.

Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, said, “Our views were heard, as were other views, and the president then made the decision as was appropriate for him to do.”

The irony, of course, is that President Obama is the fellow who ran for president as the one true liberal who wouldn't have voted for the Iraq War. Indeed, I think many of the votes he got were purely on the basis of that one position. Now we have another war and this same person defies the Office of Legal Council and the Pentagon's legal counsel to prosecute it without congressional approval. Whodda thunk it, eh?

Well, actually I think the president's Iraq war opinion was always overblown. When push came to shove in the campaign and Obama voted for FISA, it was pretty clear on which side of these issues he was going to come down. The constitutional scholar has always tended to see these things in somewhat utilitarian terms.

Maybe he just didn't want to have a debate with the congress or maybe he really believes this claptrap about Libya no being a real "war." Either way, I think we can finally put to rest the argument about President Obama's principled unwillingness to use the power of the Executive branch to get his way on policy. This proves he's more than willing to use it when he wants to.


Netflix’s day: Sony pulls movies, new bandwidth options, no more DVD API access and a lawsuit

In an apparent ode to Rebecca Black, Ice Cube and any number of body switch movies, Netflix has had an incredibly active Friday, so sit back while we get you up to speed. Sony Pictures movies from Starz Play are no longer available (on any device, not just the Xbox 360 this time) due to a "temporary contract issue" according to the official blog. According to NewTeeVee, the problem is an "IP distribution cap" that was reached due to Netflix's explosive growth, but with no word on when the movies will be back, you'll be missing The Other Guys. Up next was the National Association of the Deaf, which has filed a lawsuit in Springfield, MA against Netflix, claiming that its failure to provide closed captions on all streaming content puts it in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Netflix last claimed 30 percent of titles were subbed with plans to reach 80 percent by the end of the year, but the press release (and captioned YouTube video) make the case that as a leader in streaming video, it should do better.

Netflix also quietly gave US subscribers access to the same bandwidth management options provided to Canadians a few months ago. The new Manage Video Quality settings (shown above) can be found in the Your Account section, and if you're trying to stay under bandwidth caps or just keep seeing buffering, they should help you out at the cost of a few pixels. As if that wasn't enough, the Netflix Tech Blog squeezed in news that it was ending access to "DVD-related features" for apps using its Open API later this year. The move is apparently preparation for expanded international streaming, so if you're trying to manage discs through a third party things may change soon.

Netflix's day: Sony pulls movies, new bandwidth options, no more DVD API access and a lawsuit originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 17 Jun 2011 23:29:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Arnold Achieves ‘Post Partisanship’ With Uniform Disapproval In New Poll

The quote of the week goes to Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, which is just out with a poll that shows Arnold Schwarzenegger with a 75% disapproval rating among voters and with 90% of Los Angeles residents rejecting him.
The quote of the week goes to Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, which is just out with a poll that shows Arnold Schwarzenegger with a 75% disapproval rating among voters and with 90% of Los Angeles residents rejecting him.

DiCamillo told the San Francisco Chronicle:  "He was going to be a ... politician who really appealed to independent voters and who would reach across party lines," DiCamillo said. The new poll shows that Schwarzenegger has "achieved the 'post-partisan' status."

Republicans, Democrats, independents, Californians of all walks of life curse their former Governor. What's made Arnold's reign so disappointing is not that he betrayed his wife, but that he betrayed voters and their hopes.

Consumer Watchdog launched on Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial inauguration day because we knew his talk about cleaning up Sacramento was phony.  At the time Schwarzenegger had a 65% plus approval rating.  We launched the blog to hold California's new governor accountable to his pledge to clean up special-interest control in Sacramento and to chart the influence of big business over his administration.  By 2005 Californians came to learn the Gov did not live up to his word when they rejected a slate of reactionary ballot measures he proposed.  When Schwarzenegger left office in 2010, before the news of love child scandal, his approval rating was only 27%, tied with Governor Gray Davis at the moment of his recall.

What ruined Arnold wasn't his infidelity to his family, but to his state.  The blogs at Arnold Watch stand as a reminder of the need to be ever vigilant in holding our politicians accountable.  The special interests he bedded while in the governor's suite spawned some of the uglier moments of California governance.  Sometimes we stopped him, sometimes we shamed him, other times Schwarzenegger's donors won more than they should have.  When Arnold was hurting, he was forced to take huge steps forward to rehabilitate his image -- an increase in the minimum wage, a greenhouse gas emissions cap, support for gay marriage.

What matters to voters in the end, though, isn't these strides forward for progress or the master marketer's cosmetic remakes of himself.  The voter's final verdict was cast about his character.

Other politicians across America would do well to learn the lesson that, in the end, reputation and trust are all that truly matter. Every vote, every decision should be based not on the power of the interest group of the moment, or the political winds of an insular world, but on what's right and wrong for history and a public official's place in it.  Until politicians are ready for that truth, Consumer Watchdog will be here to remind them of it.


Posted by Jamie Court, author of The Progressive's Guide to Raising Hell and President of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.


The new American dream, Perry-style

Joshua Holland has a great piece up today about Rick Perry's "Texas Miracle." Read the whole thing for the details about why the Federal stimulus saved him even as he demonized it and how the only reason they've "created" more jobs is because they've had a huge influx low wage labor from Latin America that needs to buy toothpaste and milk from somebody. But this conclusion tells the tale:

At a fundraiser this week, Rick Perry, who despite toying with the idea of secession in the past may now be eying a White House bid, told a group of Republican fat-cats that in his state, “you don't have to use your imagination, saying, 'What'll happen if we apply this or that conservative principle?' You just need to look around, because they've been in play across our state for years, generating real results.”

In this, Perry is absolutely, 100 percent correct. He slashed taxes to the bone, handing out credits to his political cronies like they were candy. He decried the evils of Big Government while hypocritically using federal stimulus funds to help close Texas' budget gap in the short term, and now he's using the state's longer term fiscal disaster – one of his own creation – as a premise for destroying an already threadbare social safety net serving the neediest Texans. As a result of these policies, plus immigration and other external factors, his state's added a lot of low-paying poverty jobs without decent benefits. He's added very little in the way of “prosperity.”

But that truly is a big success in GOP terms. The thing to remember is that they have managed to crate most new jobs at the minimum wage level while seeing their wealthiest "producers" make tons of money (on which they pay nothing in taxes.)That's their version of the American dream.


The “outside the deficit” scam

Dday caught up with some big Dems at Netroots Nation and got them on the record about this AARP cave in. Wasserman-Shultz said that cuts are "off the table" (at least until the Republicans agree to raise revenues ...)

But this struck me as the root of the current controversy:

Sen. Mark Begich also commented on this. He showed me on his Blackberry the clarification statement from the AARP. “We’re clear, as Senate Democrats, that it’s not part of the deficit discussion,” he said. “It’s a mathematical issue, and we can resolve that. But it’s not a part of the deficit.”

He's using the financial industry talking point "it's a math problem" which refers to the trope that suddenly we've found out that there aren't enough workers to support retirees. (This is not true --- the ratio has been more or less the same for about 30 years.) But that's just rote rhetoric. It's the other part of it that's a trap.

What I'm hearing in this from AARP and Begich and people like Kay Bailey Hutchison (who "coincidentally" dropped her Social Security destruciton plan yesterday) is that they've got some kind of agreement to "tackle" Social Security outside the deficit talks around the debt ceiling and the budget. It's a very neat and tidy compartment of the Grand Bargain. Here's Hutchison on the AARP's statement:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who on Thursday unveiled her own Social Security reform package, said Friday that the AARP has marked "a huge shift in the debate on the solvency of Social Security."

Ms. Hutchison went on to say that her hope is “that Social Security is included in the bipartisan discussions on raising the debt ceiling, as it is an opportunity to fix this important entitlement for seventy-five years rather than just focusing on a short-term Band-Aid.”

Hutchison, who is retiring, is the designated Social Security extremist in this battle. Her plan would raise the retirement age to 69 for everyone under the current age of 58. As you can see, she's also demanding that Social Security be part of any deficit talks for no apparent reason, just as the Democrats are all firmly insisting that they will have none of it. (As if that's the issue ...) I think we can all see the outlines of the agreement here, can't we?

So we're looking at cuts to Social Security and eventually many rationales as to why they are "the best they could do." On the Democratic side, we'll be told that an agreement to only discuss Social Security outside the deficit discussions was a big win for the good guys. Why something that doesn't affect the deficit and is solvent so far in the future should even be on the agenda at a time of crippling unemployment and a moribund economy remains a mystery.

The truth, of course, is that the deficit is beside the point in all these discussions. The Grand Bargain was conceived long before it was a major issue. These talks are really about changing the nature of American government --- which apparently will be accomplished by cutting social programs and the safety net.


Why you can’t ever “know” anything exactly [Starts With A Bang]

"What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning." -Werner Heisenberg
Looking down at the fundamental nature of matter, down past our cells and organelles, deep into the individual molecules and inside of the atoms that make them up, at long last, you get to things like the fundamental particles that make up all the known matter in the Universe.


Things like electrons, photons, and the quarks that make up protons and neutrons, are all, as best as we can tell, fundamental particles. That means we can't break them up into anything smaller; they're not "made" of anything else.

And that's where things get weird.

Let's say I take some light -- what particle physicists call photons -- and I shine it through some slits. Two slits of finite width, two infinitely-thin slits, and one slit of a finite width. What type of pattern would I see?


(Image credit: Benjamin Crowell.)

Well, you'd see the classic patterns that come about because of two well-known and well-understood phenomena: interference and diffraction. Now it might seem weird to you, because these are properties of waves, but we can treat light like a wave without too much difficulty.

On the other hand, if we used something like electrons, you might expect a different result.


This is the result you'd get if you threw a bunch of tiny grains of sand at these two slits. Some grains go through one slit, some grains go through the other, and you wind up with two separate piles of sand on the other side.

So what happens when you send the electrons through? They make the interference pattern!

But we're clever, so what we do, to avoid the electrons from interfering with one another, is to send them through one-at-a-time. And over time, we count up what they're doing. Here are the results.


Unbelievably, each individual electron appears to interfere with itself!

So you go back and ask which slit each electron went through, like a good scientist would. So when you re-run the experiment, only this time you turn on a light to measure which slit the electron goes through, what do you find?


When you measure the electron, you destroy the interference pattern, and you force it to go through one slit or the other! It no longer interferes with itself, it no longer acts like a wave, and you just get the same pattern that you get for particles of sand.

The way you were likely taught this -- if you were taught this at all -- is that measuring the electron "collapses its wavefunction." And this is right... kind of.

Here's an -- as far as we know -- accurate depiction of what a helium atom looks like.


Now you might want to know where this electron is at any given instant. So you can shoot a photon at it. And the higher energy (i.e., shorter-wavelength) your photon is, the more accurately you can measure the electron's position. But you can never know it exactly. Why not?


(Image credit: UCSD.)

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle! Not only can you never know something like "position" exactly, but the more accurately you measure its position, the less accurately you're allowed to know its momentum!

The same thing happens for energy and time. This is so spectacular that -- because E = mc2 -- particles that live for very, very small amounts of time have an inherent uncertainty in their mass! (If you ever hear a physicist talk about the "width" of a particle like the W or Z boson, or the top quark, this mass-uncertainty is what they're referring to.)

Is there a good, classical analogy for this? Sure there is; imagine a water balloon.


Imagine trying to measure exactly where the water balloon is in one direction. Well, you can't quite do it with just a ruler; a water balloon has a finite thickness to it. So what can you do? Well, you can squeeze it in one direction, and make it smaller.


But when you do this, it stretches in the other directions. The volume has to be conserved, or all the dimensions multiplied together cannot be less than a certain number.

That's what quantum mechanics is like. So you might wonder, with this in mind, what happens if you go back to your two-slit experiment, and only measure which slit the particles travel through a little bit?


(Image credit: S. Kocsis et al.)

Well, this experiment was just done (and other writeups are here and here), and what they can do is measure the average trajectory of the particles, but without destroying the interference pattern! In other words, if you look with low enough precision at whatever you're looking at, you allow the balloon to be "large enough," in some sense, in the direction that's important to the experiment.

But as far as nature goes? You never know either position, momentum, energy, or time exactly. The best you can do is to measure it well-enough to take away some of its options. The first double slit experiment was performed in 1799, and with new discoveries and measurements like this, we're likely to keep on playing with this setup for centuries to come.

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Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


Rumbles under the Ice [Dynamics of Cats]

Katla is rumbling a bit.

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Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


LG Revolution review

The army of high-speed broadband phones is actively seeking new recruits to join its rapidly-growing force, and the LG Revolution is the latest to graduate from boot camp. We've witnessed the emergence of three Verizon LTE handsets in as many months, beginning with the HTC Thunderbolt and the Samsung Droid Charge a few weeks later. As if this wasn't enough choice to tempt your tastebuds already, the LG Revolution -- the entertaining climax to the classic 4G trilogy -- was born one full moon after that. With three options, all so close to each other in dimension and features, it's natural to compare all of 'em and make the call on which one is the best of the bunch. Is LG's first crack at Verizon's LTE network truly a game-changer, as its name suggests? Or does this Revolution fail to even get its feet off the ground? Read on after the break to find out.

Continue reading LG Revolution review

LG Revolution review originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 17 Jun 2011 16:54:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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