Don’t use a mobile phone in a storm?

I’ve seen this reported in several places, MSNBC [], Slashdot [], The Guardian [], and others:

in a letter to the British Medical Journal that usually when someone is struck by lightning, the high resistance of the skin conducts the flash over the body in what is known as a flashover. But if a metal object, such as a phone, is in contact with the skin it disrupts the flashover and increases the odds of internal injuries and death.

So my questions is what about other metal objects that I have one and are in contact with my skin all the time? What about my glasses? What about my earrings –surgical steel? What about the copper rivets and button or zipper? Am I going to be lit up like a Christmas tree the next time I take a walk in the rain?


A Creeping Orwellian State?

The government of Singapore recently unveiled a plan to provide nationwide WiFi access by the end of 2007. Yes. Nationwide WiFi. The Straits Times [] (you have to pay to see the articles so don’t bother) ran this quote:

Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lee Boon Yang said: “We will offer broadband connectivity anywhere, anytime and on any device.”

This is part of a larger package of projects aimed at helping Singapore catch up with places like South Korea and become a truly wired (or wire-less) nation. In addition to the free WiFi there will be a new island wide (very) high speed wired network and computers for the elderly and poor. The whole plan is to be completed by 2015.

But in a country know as the “nanny state” were national ID cards and censorship are the norm. What else could Big Brother do with a nationwide wireless network?

Singapore already has a Road Pricing [] scheme called ERP that uses RFID cards to charge drivers for entering congested areas at peak times. With a reliable island wide wireless network this could be extended by adding a WiFi antenna and a GPRS unit to every car such that you could dynamically charge people based on things like how long they were actually on the road inside the ERP zone. Once you’ve taken this step it is easy to start tracking cars all the time, charging based on the number of miles driven, the time of day they are driven, event track the speed and issue tickets automatically.

And why stop at tracking cars? Rather than issuing a national ID card why not implant a small wireless transmitter into nationals? Big Brother could have a lot of fun with this one.


What I believe

I took part in a survey recently to help steer a Political Action Committee (PAC) I have supported before. I was asked to rank the following as I saw their importance:

  • A living wage for all
  • Global leadership through diplomacy
  • Verifiable, accurate elections
  • High quality education for all
  • Balanced federal budget
  • Health care for all
  • Publicly funded elections
  • Preserve our natural resources
  • Energy independence: clean, renewable sources
  • Restored constitutional rights

So this survey was asking me “what do you believe is important for the US Government?” Which got me thinking, what do I believe in, at least when it comes to government? I see both dominant parties as abject failures and self serving profit driven entities and would prefer not to vote for a ‘party,’ neither bleeding heart liberal of cold hearted conservative. So what do I believe?

At the risk of never again finding a good job because someone ‘googled’ my name before setting up an interview, here is what I believe at this point in my life:

  • I believe the Environment is important.
    I believe we should use taxes to encourage people to do the right thing: tax every pound of waste sent into a landfill, cash back for recycling, tax the sale of items that are not packaged in recycled packaging, tax products that can’t be recycled, and tax products that use production methods that are considered harmful to the environment. Make it economical to go green and painful to throw things out. Higher taxes on Fossil fuels lower taxes on renewable energy. More money for NSF research, tax breaks for green buildings and for retrofitting green technology into existing buildings.
  • I believe that Immigration is important for the United States and should be encouraged.
    We should make it easier to immigrate and harder to cross the border without a pass. We should make basic English skills a requirement for citizenship and offer free classes to all who would be citizens because speaking English will unlock many doors for them.
  • I believe in the right to privacy and I regret that the founding fathers did not spell it out.
    I believe that congress should make no laws limiting what consenting adults can do in the privacy of their homes or what they can and cannot do with their bodies. I believe we may need to amend the constitution to enshrine this law.
  • I believe that the laws of the land need to be reviewed.
    Old laws that have been over turned or are not enforced should be removed from the books. I believe that once this is done every adult in the US should receive a copy of the code of the US for their reference. Ignorance is not a defense.
  • I believe in states rights.
    The federal government should stay out of local issues.
  • I believe that America needs to work hard to regain the moral high ground.
    Immediately cease all covert overseas activities, publicly acknowledge them and apologize for them. Cease all domestic covert activities, publicly acknowledge them and apologize for them. Stop torture, stop arbitrary imprisonment, stop extra-judicial activities and apologize for them. Pay our UN bill. Live up to the treaties and international conventions we have signed. Ask the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq how we can be of service to them and do as they ask. Stop foreign military aid; all of it. Review all foreign aid. Give less money directly, it only encourages corruption. Give more money to the IMF, World Bank, UNICEF, and other UN agencies, Fight to abolish the permanent seats on the UN Security Council. Learn the value of soft power. Spend as much on peace as we do on war.
  • I believe in personal responsibility.
    Make the law reflect this.
  • I believe in Welfare in so far as a decent pay should be provided for a decent days labor.
    If you don’t have a job and need money then report to the local government house for a task at the end of the day, assuming you have worked you will be paid for your work. Come back tomorrow if you need more money. I believe that there is enough work to do that no one should sit at home and collect welfare, you should have to work for it each and every day you collect it. Even if you dig a ditch in the morning and fill it in after lunch (which of course would be provided by others who needed a job for the day.)
  • I believe in corporal punishment.
    The US could learn a lot from Singapore. I don’t believe in rehabilitative punishment 200 years of attempts to rehabilitate have lead to a system that makes things worse.
  • I believe Capital punishment should be ended.
    Because it simply does not work. Either fix the system or end the system.
  • I believe in what I believe in.
    I believe that Church is important to many Americans. So are Mosque and Temple and Synagogue and Shrines and many other things I am not aware of. I believe this means that these things should be dealt with outside of government and that people should not be allowed to force their beliefs on others under the auspices of the government.
  • I believe that government funded research should be for the good of all.
    Therefore the results of government funded research should be in the public domain. I believe we should help to pay for drug development only if that development is aimed at diseases and health problems that affect a significant portion of the global population not 1% of 5% of the global population.
  • I believe Politics should not be a career but a duty.
    I believe to help enforce this we should make a law excluding any and all publicly elected officials from running for office during their term. This means that while in office a politician is not allowed to campaign—for themselves of any other candidate. During a term in office you should be doing your job not convincing people of how well you’ve done your job.

As you can see I will never get elected to public office unless I resort to lying. And this is one of the biggest problems in politics today. The rhetoric does not match the reality. It’s not even the same language. There are too many bad people in politics. It attracts too many corrupt people who have turned the system into one big grinding wheel so that no one of high ideals will ever make a difference, long before they achieve a position where they could make a difference they will have been corrupted and turned into just another crooked politician.