Monday, June 27, 2016

Google is Watching YOU and all you do!

This month, at age 77, I acquired my very first kick-scooter. Granddaughter Michaela used my smartphone to take a series of photos as I rode past her, so I could post one to Facebook, which I did.

(THANKS for doing a really great job, Michaela!)

Well, a week later, Google informed me they had noticed a series of photos in my camera roll and, without asking, had assembled them into a .gif file "movie"! (Image at right.)

GOOGLE IS WATCHING YOU!

So, that is the story of how Google is looking at all my smartphone photos (and probably yours as well), analyzing them to find a closely timed series, and, unbidden, automatically creating a .gif file.

WOW!

Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased to get this particular sequence. However, if Google is analyzing ALL my photos, and yours and those of all Google subscribers as well, isn't that some kind of massive violation of "privacy"?

Presumably, if we or anyone else has been "tagged" in any photo, they may recognize who happens to be in any photo, even if we inadvertently happen to be in the background of anyone's photo!

In addition to photos,  whenever we use our smartphones or tablets or laptops for any purpose, they know what website we viewed, what information we searched for, with whom we communicated, what we wrote, and when and where we were when we did so.

If they are similarly monitoring all other Google subscribers, they can easily figure out who we were with and when and where.

Many years ago, I concluded we had absolutely no "privacy" when it came to our use of networked computers, and I vowed never to type anything into a PC that I would not mind appearing on the front page of a newspaper or featured on TV. Indeed, I realized, whenever I used my credit card I was creating a computer record of when and where I was, and what I was doing. Whenever I use my RFID or barcode gate pass to enter a garage or other location, I create a computer record.

None of us who have cars, cellphones, credit cards, jobs, homes, or any modern electronic conveniences have any "privacy" anymore. We have got to get over it! (The only person who has any "privacy" is the neer-do-well who stole your car and credit card and is buying beer and gas on your account. :^)

Now, with computer-connected computers virtually everywhere; monitoring traffic, checking for shoplifters and thieves in stores; virtually nothing happens without being recorded, in color and surprisingly high definition.

YOU TUBE IS CRITIQUING YOUR VIDEOS!

Several years ago I was kayaking at Rainbow Springs State Park (FL) and my friend Warren got some great video of me using my water gun to douse our British friend Dee, and then Dee kayaking into a restricted swimming area.

I edited the video down to a minute and a quarter and posted it to my You Tube account.

Well, You Tube, apparently automatically, noticed the image was bobbing up and down and rolling from side to side (because Warren was in a bobbing and rolling kayak :^). So, they asked if I wanted them to stabilize the image, and they did!

Here it is inn amazingly stabilized form for your enjoyment and amazement.


Ira Glickstein

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Great TED Video Demonstration of Microsoft HoloLens



A must-see TED video. WOW ! This demo of the "Microsoft HoloLens" is amazing.

Please click the arrow in the center of the above image to view Alex Kipman's marvelous TED video that demonstrates the next advance in Virtual Reality. (Many thanks to my son-in-law, Avi, for turning me onto it.)

Last month, my friend Peggy gave me "Google Cardboard", a simple, inexpensive, and rather primitive Virtual Reality viewer that uses an ordinary smart cellphone as the interactive display. I've enjoyed great fun with it: virtually riding a roller coaster; traveling thru space to the Moon, to Venus, to the other Planets and their moons; hovering above our beautiful Earth and diving down to a city in France, swooping along streets among virtual buildings.

While "Google Cardboard" is a wonderful example of Virtual Reality, especially considering the very low cost, the "Microsoft HoloLens" appears to be way, way, way beyond it! I look forward to the day when this type of device becomes available within the general consumer budget. I'm sure that day will come, and relatively soon. Considering my advanced age (:^) I can hardly wait. WOW !

Ira Glickstein

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Great Toe-Fungus Cover-Up

Daily treatment, over many months, is required to cure toe-fungus. You must wash and dry your feet thoroughly and then apply a topical solution such as tavaborole (Kerydin) to the surface of the affected nail. The medication does its work by penetrating through the nail plate. 

I do water-aerobics in public pools several times a week and was concerned that exposure of the affected area to the pool and shower environment might cause re-infection. My wife suggested that I could cover the affected area using a finger cut from a disposable glove.  A great idea, but I found that the cover-up would often work its way off the toe, even when covered by a pool shoe.

The image below shows my creative solution.
(1)  Make two cuts in the disposable glove. Cut directly across to separate a finger "A", and diagonally to separate the thumb and wrist area "B". Note that "B" includes part of the glove area between the thumb and the first finger.
(2) Fold about 1/4" of "A" over as shown to strengthen the edge, improve the seal, and reduce chances of tearing.
(3) Stretch "A" and pull it completely over the affected toe.
(4) Stretch "B" and pull it completely over "A" and secure the end around your heel. (5) Side view of final result.
I use latex gloves because they are more stretchy and less likely to tear than other disposable glove materials.

You may reuse the Great Toe-Fungus Cover-Up several times. Since latex has a tendency to stick to itself, you should drape "A" and "B" over a plastic knife or other suitable material between uses.

Enjoy! And please comment about how this idea works for you.

Ira Glickstein

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Valentine

My Valentine - Vi (Stark) Glickstein [Published in the February newsletter for Freedom Pointe Independent Living, The Villages, FL]

I first met Vi in 1962 when she was living with her parents and completing her Bachelors in Chemistry at Brooklyn College. I was working in New Jersey, spending most weekends with my parents in Brooklyn and pursuing my social life there.
We met on a double-date, Vi with a buddy of mine, and me with my girlfriend of the time. We met again when Vi set me up on a blind date with a friend of hers. Vi impressed me as being both attractive and intelligent, and I decide that I liked her better than either of the other two girls.
So, when my buddy went to California for the summer, I tried to call her, but her parent's number was unlisted. I remembered where we had picked her up on the double-date and wrote her a letter. Well, I got the street right, but was off on the house number. Fortunately, the letter carrier knew Vi's mother and delivered my letter. Vi wrote back, and the rest is history.
We married in 1964 and have been together 52 years, with three daughters and five grands to show for it.
I knew I loved Vi when I realized that, in addition to her superior physical attributes, she was a lot smarter and more perceptive than me. On one of our early dates, it was raining when we left the restaurant, and I got drenched walking to get the car. She saved the day by telling me I had a dry shirt and jeans in the trunk. I had no idea they were there. As I changed into dry clothes in the back seat of the car (the first time I had been nearly naked with a member of the opposite sex) I marveled that, based on a quick glance earlier that day, she had seen my clothes and remembered where they were.
After our children were out of elementary school, Vi went to Binghamton University to earn her Masters in Computer Science. She became a software engineer and eventually led the team that developed the computer programs for the helicopters that got Osama Bin Laden. (Vi is undoubtedly the world's best lead software engineer. If you don't believe me, you can ask her :^)
Ira Glickstein

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Conservative View of US Political History

[from Bill Lifka] I’m re-reading the book: A Patriot’s History of the United States by Schweikart and Allen. The authors are professors of history at the University of Dayton and the University of Washington. Unusually for their field, the professors are Conservative in their political view.
According to Schweikart, the reason for their book was that Liberals have written the overwhelming majority of text books on American history. Not only do these tales tell the American story with a strong leftward slant but major events and characters are absent from the pages. Schweikart’s and Allen’s version received praise for accuracy and fairness from objective experts.

The truth is that America’s history of its famous and infamous characters is a mix of altruism and selfishness, honesty and corruption, courage and cowardice, wisdom and stupidity, prudence and rashness, unity and divisiveness. Natural cynicism makes me think the specific gravity leans to selfishness, corruption, cowardice, stupidity, rashness and divisiveness.

WHY HAS AMERICA SURVIVED SO FAR? HOW MUCH LONGER?

It raises questions why America has survived so far and how much longer a nation so confounded can survive. Survival to this point and beyond has nothing to do with American people standing head and shoulders above their counterparts in other countries. Americans are not exceptional as a group of individuals.

In my opinion, the reasons for success are a design of government structure that has withstood efforts of generations of Americans to destroy it and that the nation was placed under protection of an Almighty God from the very beginning, first by early European settlers and again by the Founders as they laid out the design of a governmental plan. Who knows how much further we can stretch the wisdom of the Founders and the patience of God?

HISTORY OF THE MODERN DEMOCRATIC PARTY (AND MARTIN VAN BUREN)

1821 - A good place to begin my argument is in the year 1821 which was when the modern Democratic Party was formed. (It wasn’t the party of Jefferson, as widely proclaimed. Jefferson and Madison had very different principles and goals but they, especially Madison, did start the party system.)

I summarize the story from the history book as follows. Martin Van Buren was the son of a tavern owner in Kinderhook, New York. He resented the autocratic landowning families in this area and found enough like-minded politicians to control the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1821 enacting universal manhood suffrage.

He learned to employ newspapers as no other political figure had, linking journalists’ success to the Party’s fortunes. He perceived the necessity of discipline and organization to control the masses he sought to organize. He sought to create a political party dedicated to no other principle than holding power.

The problem with the political climate developing in the young nation was the disagreement over slavery which was dividing the states between the North and the South. Van Buren (and many others) viewed the logical result of this would be civil war, which he hoped to avoid. The best way to do that, he reasoned, was to remove slavery (and any other issues) as a party consideration.

He joined southern planters with northern non-elites to form a national organization dedicated to attaining and retaining political power. An important factor in attaining success was in taking advantage of the growing size of government which provided an ever-larger pool of government jobs with which to reward supporters: to the victors belong the spoils. Van Buren tied his star to a practice that, at its roots, viewed men as base and without principle. If they could be silenced on the issue of slavery with the promise of a job, what of their integrity? Yet, that was the strategy for the noble purpose of saving the nation from civil war.

1824 - Andrew Jackson was chosen as the standard bearer for Van Buren’s party in 1824. The Electoral College vote was: Jackson 99, (John Quincy) Adams 84 and Clay 41. There being no majority, the decision fell to the US House of Representatives. Clay was Speaker of the House and he detested Jackson so Adams received his votes. The one-term Adams’ administration was plagued with “pay back” acrimony for the “stolen election”.

1828 - In 1828, Jackson and his VP, John Calhoun, coasted into office. When he left office, Jackson had more totally consolidated power in the executive branch than any previous president, ensuring what Van Buren had dreaded: a powerful presidency subject to sectional pressures. His adept use of the spoils system created a large-scale government bureaucracy that further diminished states’ rights. This planted the seeds for the “New Deal” and the “Great Society” and (I would add) Obama’s eight year reign.

1836 - Van Buren followed Jackson into the presidency in 1836 to reap the blame for all that turned out badly from Jackson’s initiatives. After one term he was defeated by Whig candidates, William Henry Harrison (Tippecanoe) and John Tyler.

Harrison died after one month in office and Tyler succeeded him. The interesting thing about the succession is that the US Constitution’s language on presidential succession is not precisely clear that the Vice President automatically becomes the fully empowered president when his predecessor dies in office. Some doubts were raised. Tyler just assumed direct succession was the intention and took control. In this little-noted act he cemented the foundation of the Republic in future times of chaos and instability. This small snippet of history typifies the generally untidy political proceedings that have been part of our nation’s Presidential campaigns and the use of presidential power, once elected.

The formation of the modern Democratic Party isn’t a particularly heart-warming story especially the part about founding principles. However, there have been moments in later history where that party has provided great leadership for the country.

PARTY POLITICS NOW (AND DONALD TRUMP)

At this moment, the Democratic Party is at a low point in its history, despite having one of its members in the White House. At least, that’s my opinion. In many ways, it espouses the principles and methodologies Van Buren invented but has added cultural dogma and governing philosophy that moves the nation far from the direction the Founders intended and defined.

The Democratic Party is not alone in American political history in experiencing recurring shifts in goals, initiatives and methodologies. All have been the same in that regard. But now is a very bad time for one of the two major political parties to be focused on matters of lesser importance.

Of course, Donald Trump is doing his best to coax Republicans into the same mindset. The Democratic Debates have been particularly useless in addressing key national issues. The Republican debates have been notably better except for time spent in personal attacks. The debate this Thursday should provide good reminders of issues which should be the basis of your vote in November. Trump’s likely absence should raise the quality of debate immensely.

Bill Lifka

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Acton Institute and Rev. Robert Sirico


My good friend Bill Lifka, and his wife Alice, invited me and a couple dozen other residents of The Villages, FL, to a nice dinner and a great talk by the Rev. Robert Sirico, pictured above. He is the President of the Acton Institute for the study of religion and liberty, which is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

See Wikipedia for more about Rev. Sirico. Here is a pithy selection that I found interesting:

In 1990, in response to what he saw as an insufficient understanding of economics by religious leaders and the religious isolation of business leaders, Sirico founded the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids. With the motto "connecting good intentions with sound economics," the institute provides a vision of free market economics within a Judeo-Christian moral framework.[3] In Sirico's words:
The essential thing was my frustration when I was in seminary ... to hear homilies preached that inevitably insulted business people. I knew this was a serious error both theologically and pastorally. Theologically, because of the moral bankruptcy of socialism as an ideology. But pastorally because it alienated good people who were working and attempting to participate in the Christian mission

I did not take notes during the talk, but here are a few highlights as I remember them. (I take responsibility for any errors or distortion of Father Sirico's message.)

He began by imagining that all the wealth in the World could be divided equally among all the people in the World, which he estimated would be about $13,000 per man, woman, and child.

OK, but what would happen on the next day? The wealth of the World is not simply money and goods that could be so divided, but is mostly represented by the monetary value of investments in business enterprises, which would cease operation if so distributed. The day after such a distribution, the engines of production of goods and services would grind to a halt, most jobs would vanish, and the standard of living would permanently decline.

That, in essence, is the problem with much of the socialist-oriented big government rhetoric many voters find appealing. Europe is a decade or two ahead of the US along this road to ruin.

Midway through his talk, Sirico asked if anyone knew the famous quote, regarding power, from the namesake of the Acton Institute, Lord Acton. I spoke up, saying I had not looked it up, but I thought it was "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." I was close, but was corrected for having left out two important words. The actual quote is "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." He noted that he had similarly corrected Lady Thatcher's recollection of that famous quote, and I was proud to be in such grand company.

A question and answer session followed the talk and some of the topics included the possibly socialistic tendencies of Pope Francis, the danger of the ascendancy of Donald Trump in the Republican Presidential Primary contest, the power of new technology, including cable-TV and the internet, in breaking the earlier monopoly of the three major TV networks over news, and a number of other controversial areas. I found myself in general agreement with Father Sirico. (Like me, he was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.)

THANKS to Bill and Alice Lifka for an enjoyable evening in their beautiful, warm, and comfortable home. Bill Lifka is the author of a number of postings on this blog (see here),

Here are my favorite quotes from Lord Acton, selected from the extensive Archive on the Acton Institute website:
“Free trade, to improve the condition of the people and fit them for freedom.”
“Liberty has not only enemies which it conquers, but perfidious friends, who rob the fruits of its victories: Absolute democracy, socialism.”
“The object of civil society is justice, not truth, virtue, wealth, knowledge, glory or power. Justice is followed by equality and liberty.”
“Inequality: the Basis of society. We combined and put things in common to protect the weak against the strong.”
“Liberty consists in the division of power. Absolutism, in concentration of power.”
“Bureaucracy is undoubtedly the weapon and sign of a despotic government, inasmuch as it gives whatever government it serves, despotic power.”
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.”
“If we dealt with institutions, antiquity would be low. It realized no liberty. But in the domain of ideas it ranks high.”
“The central idea of Machiavelli is that the state power is not bound by the moral law. The law is not above the state, but below it.”
“For it is a most striking thing that the views of pure democracy...were almost entirely unrepresented in [the American] convention.”
“A liberal is only a bundle of prejudices until he has mastered, has understood, experienced the philosophy of Conservatism.”
“The will of the people cannot make just that which is unjust.”
“It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority.”
“The common vice of democracy is disregard for morality.”
“Federalism is the best curb on democracy. [It] assigns limited powers to the central government. Thereby all power is limited. It excludes absolute power of the majority.”
“Socialism easily accepts despotism. It requires the strongest execution of power -- power sufficient to interfere with property.”
“Property, not conscience, is the basis of liberty. For the defence of conscience need not arise. Property is always exposed to interference. It is the constant object of policy.”
“Official truth is not actual truth.”
“Political economy cannot be supreme arbiter in politics. Else you might defend slavery where it is economically sound and reject it where the economic argument applies against it.”
“Every doctrine to become popular, must be made superficial, exaggerated, untrue. We must always distinguish the real essence from the conveyance, especially in political economy.”
“There could never be a revolution less provoked by oppression than America. Thenceforth the right of a nation to judge for itself could not be denied.”
“Americans dreaded democracy and contrived their constitution against it.”
“In England Parliament is above the law. In America the law is above Congress.”
“The great novelty of the American Constitution was that it imposed checks on the representatives of the people.”
“Progress, the religion of those who have none.”
“It is easier to find people fit to govern themselves than people fit to govern others.”
“A public man has no right to let his actions be determined by particular interests. He does the same thing as a judge who accepts a bribe. Like a judge he must consider what is right, not what is advantageous to a party or class.”
“A convinced man differs from a prejudiced man as an honest man from a liar.”
“The true natural check on absolute democracy is the federal system, which limits the central government by the powers reserved, and the state governments by the powers they have ceded.”
“The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.”
“There is another world for the expiation of guilt; but the wages of folly are payable here below.”

Ira Glickstein

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Gun Rights and Wrongs (Main Menu)


 Some ideas on how new technology,
particularly "UltraSmart" guns that will fire only for authorized individuals, 
plus some common-sense reforms in liability for gun owners, 
might help reduce unnecessary gun violence, 
while being compatible with our Constitutionally guaranteed 
Second Amendment "Right to Bear Arms".


Part 1 - The Problem.  Is it too many restrictive gun LAWS, too many GUNS, or too many gun HOMICIDES?

Part 2 - New Technology. Might "UltraSmart" gun technology, that allows only Authorized Users to fire the gun, help address part of the problem?

Part 3 - Absolute Liability. Within the context of the Constitutional Second Amendment "right to bear arms", could gun owners, over time, voluntarily adopt "UltraSmart" guns, to mitigate the financial liability risks of owning conventional guns?

Part 4 - Aggressive Police Tactics. "Stop, Question (and Optionally Frisk)" has a disproportionate effect on Blacks, but it has been shown to save proportionately more Black than White lives.

CLICK TO Download my PowerPoint file
Advanced "UltraSmart" Gun Concepts 
1) Front-Facing Camera and Laser Spot to ID Target and Aid Shooter Aim, Safety and Reliability.
2) Rear-Facing Camera and Iris Scan to ID Shooter and Assure He or She is Not Drunk nor on Drugs.
3) Sensors in Hand Grip to further Positively ID Shooter. NOTE: Not all sensors need to be on all guns, just enough (perhaps six) to assure Authorized Person will be Reliably Recognized and Unauthorized persons will be Rejected
Ira Glickstein