Thursday, August 29, 2013

More AT&T Samsung Galaxy madness

Background: 5 days after bringing my 3 month old defective Samsung Galaxy S4 phone to an AT&T store, I received the replacement lacking battery, back, and SIM card.  AT&T directs me to to copy the contacts to new phone.  But wait, I only have one battery and one SIM card, so I can't actually operate both phones at the same time, can I?  How am I supposed to copy my contacts and photos (and that's all I care about, fortunately, I can get my apps from Google later).

Today I showed my phone to an Android guru at work.  We tried and talked about several things.  Nothing was successful and I will continue to go the the AT&T store tonight to see if they can resolve issue.

First he suggested that I could use Kies and wifi to copy my contacts and photos to my mac, then copy them to the new phone.  First we needed to get my phone on the public wifi at work.  We did that, but there did not actually appear to be a Kies app on the phone, or at least I couldn't find it.  There is Kies preferences, but not Kies itself.

We did find a way to copy my contacts to the SIM card.  Presumably I could unpack them from the SIM card after installing in the new phone.  But that would not solve the problem with regards to copying my photos.

So then we tried connecting the phone to my Mac computer using USB.  He was hoping it would appear as a disk device from which we could access photos and the contacts image I just created in the SIM card.

Unfortunately, the Mac did not recognize the Samsung as a USB drive, but instead as a network "Music Server".  It was not visible in Finder, but only in Network Preferences.  In order to attach a music server to my Mac at work I needed the Admin password.  I do not have the Admin password.


My Galaxy phone alerted me at 8am this morning unnecessarily.  I pressed the side button and there was no message on the screen.  So I pulled down the notifications screen, which is filled with stuff like the instructions for remote control setup.  At the bottom was a notification about IEEE meeting tomorrow.  OK, it is good that it reminded me about that, I completely forgot.

But if this had been iPhone, I could easily have set alert to appear on the wake up screen, without giving me an audible alert at 8am and unnecessarily waking me up.  Then the notification would have simply appeared on the wake up screen, I would not have had to fiddle with the phone to see what I was just being notified about.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Once again, we are the world's thug, not the world's policeman

We have absolutely no moral or legal authority to bomb or otherwise intervene with hostility in Syria without UN Security Council approval.  If there is such approval, then at least we have legal authority.

The only difference between the Syrian regime and hundreds of others we have supported militarily to suppress their own populations is that...the Syrians are allied with Russia instead of us.

Tens of millions of people have died in regimes we have supported militarily to advance OUR own geopolitical and geoeconomic agendas.

Even now, we are essentially turning a blind eye to government imposed mass murder in Egypt.  In fact, we are mostly continuing our support regime of Egypt, which has long been used for terroristic murder of civilians toward the end of subverting democracy.

The reason the American people support a military is for defense of the United States of America.  Not for being the world's thug or policeman.

AT&T Samsung Phone changeover horrible and ongoing

After three months of delightful call voice quality, and flawless Google navigation, but with such a horrible user interface that I've never bothered to do anything fun with it, and with many other frustrations regarding text notifications and such, my 32G Samsung Galaxy S4 microphone died.  So people call me, I can pick up the call, and they can just barely hear me if I cup my hands around the phone and shout at it.

I took the phone back to an AT&T store, the real store, not the mall kiosk where I bought it (where, as I have already learned, they basically can't do anything) and spent 90 minutes before I could get the authorization to have a new phone shipped to me.  (When my iPhone 3 had a failure, about 1 year after purchase, I took it to an Apple store and they had me switched over to a new phone and on my way in ten minutes.  IIRC, that was on a Friday evening also.)  No local store could exchange the phone for me because no local store has the 32G model.  I asked if they would just downgrade me to 16G and they refused.  So I had to endure a long call (at the AT&T store) to corporate before I could get the exchange authorization.  Basically they had me take the phone apart and verify that two water test spots were still showing no water damage.  During the conversation I made the mistake of hanging up the store's land line and it took about 40 minutes of shouting, hand waving, and esp to get connected with the same service representative again.  I was grateful nobody at the store interfered.  But nobody at the store was any help either.

I went to the store on Friday evening and received the new phone on Wednesday afternoon.  That just barely makes "two business days" if you toss the weekend.

Now I get the phone with a cheery sheet from AT&T telling me I can transfer my contacts to the new phone by going to  So I went there, but it seemed that it wanted to connect to my phone by wifi.  So I had to find my home wifi password.  That took about 3 hours of digging through old instruction manuals.  (I've made several copies of the wifi password and put them in the user manual caches in each room.  But it takes some time to go through those user manual caches and the relevant page turned out to be missing from the bedroom pile so I had to go to the kitchen pile.  When I actually found the information I made two copies and put one back in the bedroom pile.)  Obviously I don't add wifi devices to my system often.  I though I had already added the Samsung phone but maybe I didn't, or maybe it lost the password somehow.

Anyway, I got the wifi enabled and connected, then went back to the website.  Regardless of my wifi connection, it wasn't magically located after all and I then had to search for my make and model.  OK, so I finally got my "from" device entered.

But then it seems that it wants me to enter my "to" device.  And therein lies a problem.  The "to" device doesn't really exist yet.  I simply have a new husk of a phone with no SIM and no memory card.  The "to" device won't really exist until I move those over from the original phone.  It doesn't seem to me like they've actually worked this out.

So unless I figure this out, it may have to wait until Thursday or Friday and I go back to AT&T store and see if they can do the transfer.  Actually, even the kiosk might be able to do this.  They had originally offered to copy my stuff over from the iPhone.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Aljazeera America Revolution

This is a historic, and hopefully revolutionary moment in media history.  Al Jazeera represents critical media, long lacking in the USA, done with better resources than mainstream media.

Right now, Al Jazerra is the so far it blows the doors off everything.

Alternative media channels have done much similar work, and are still essential, more than ever, for independent documentaries, Democracy Now, and the like.  But some of the best parts of Link TV and Free Speech TV were in fact the Al Jazerra news broadcast (the previously developed Aljazerra English broadcast in Europe).  Actually, I'd still like the see the Aljazerra English on alternate channels continue...I worry about divergence...targeting to the predjudices of the US audience.

If you get Dish Network, like me, and you should, you can get Aljazeera America on channel 215, Link TV at 9410 and Free Speech TV (FSTV) at 9415.  More critical channels than any other network.

On Time Warner, or AT&T Uverse, you don't get any of these channels.  AT&T wimped out two minutes before the changeover from the changeover from Al Gore's CURNT channel.  Time Warner announced they would not carry Al Jazerra when the news of the sale of Al Gore's channel to Aljazeera became public.  As a friend of mine guessed, not just no but hell no. They won't cater to critical minds on Time Warner.  Only empire approved viewpoints will be recognized as sane.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac

Econobrowser has some interesting thoughts on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But be sure to read the comments also.

My feeling is that we should return to the fully public Fannie Mae of the past, with as little room for corruption or inflated salaries at the top as possible.  The very purpose of Fannie Mae was to hold risk that private borrowers might not want at low price, to keep only the smallest FHA loans low priced.  Some of that risk is the systemic risk.  The public bank may need to be bailed out during a crisis.  The idea is that fewer other entities would need to be bailed also.  And the public bank could set an example with good rules and boring management receiving comparatively low salaries.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Humanity and decency require new drug policies

Here's Ethan Nadelman of the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization I contribute to almost every year.

Funny, though, while I knew DPA favored legalization of Marijuana, I assumed, unlike the sea of Marijuana-only legalization organizations, they favored legalization of all drugs.

In fact, Nadelmann is even a bit qualified about his support for marijuana.  He does not want to see it become like the tobacco cigarette market.

And wrt other drugs, the DPA doesn't have an official policy, but it wouldn't be a full libertarian style legalization.*  They mainly push for harm reduction strategies, such as needle exchange, in a step by step process of reducing all harms from drug prohibition (by far the major source of harms) and the drugs themselves.  (*He seems to say other drugs should not be freely sold, but possession should not be a crime.)

My own idea of the only decent policy is legalization of marijuana as with alcohol, restricted by age particularly.  (I would prefer to see blue laws repealed and alcohol available pretty much all day, so I didn't mention hours.  And restrictions on location can be suburbanizing...)

And then for other currently illegal drugs, I believe all drugs without exception should be available with a presecription from a state licensed medical doctor.  So more "schedule 1."

Overthrowing the deeply intrenched status quo, especially the prison industrial complex, and DA's, is difficult to contemplate.

Anyway, Nadelmann says a lot of other things I had thought of decades ago, with nobody else talking about them ever, and it's so wonderful to hear someone else confirming those ideas.

One idea is the spirituality of a once a year carefully planned psychedelic trip, to clear out mental sediment.  Not that I've been able to do this.  But the arc of my life does suggest that at least one door opening is useful--perhaps essential.

Another is that prohibition of all drugs including marijuana is what can create a "gateway" effect, as illegal dealers may carry more than one.  If marijuana is legal, but not the others, there is no gateway.

He says you can't have an effective 12 step program if falling off the wagon has legal consequences.  I've always said you can't have drug treatment if the drug is illegal, few will ever seek treatment because of possible consequences.

He mentions nalaxone, as a good idea, I will have to check that out.  He believes it should be liberally available.

He says the latest research shows decriminalization has no effect on use (it doesn't go up over all groups in society) but vast effect on the harm caused on people and society.

Here is my post to Facebook

I agree with and support Ethan Nadelmann and the Drug Policy Alliance.  Their policy on drugs other than marijuana is to emphasize decrim, and make people think about what the ultimate laws should be (though they oppose full libertarian style legalization of all drugs, they don't mind others talking about it in the interest of dialog).  I more specifically say that all drugs should be available with prescription from any state licensed medical doctor.  I would abolish Schedule One, the drugs that cannot be prescribed for any reason.  And marijuana should be at least as legal as alcohol, but with personal production and noncommercial sales less restricted (so the corporations don't take over).

Friday, August 2, 2013

Causality is a story

I've been thinking about the Kennedy assassination, then the Tate-LaBianca murders, two epoch ending events, whose effect was the end of liberal governance (ok, that's overstating it a bit, the last liberal President was Nixon--as Chomsky says, but that might only have been the assassination aftermath corrected the rightward bias of the assassination itself), the the end of liberal culture.  My thinking is that there were likely inputs from many sources alleged by conspiratorialists (of whom you could say I was one).  For example, had the CIA not had the MK ULTRA program, and not experimented with LSD, the Manson murders could not have occurred as they did.

Did CIA/FBI/Mafia/KnightsOfMalta/dissaffected-nationals/Hoover direct the outcome more tightly than that, perhaps suggesting or listing Tate (such as hit one of these, and we'll let you live)?  Well that's into conspiracy territory, no evidence exists, but then none would be expected.  Remember the tape recorder on Mission Impossible.  Only a small group of people might have ever known.  But then, perhaps through some screw up, the table was tilted, as these programs certainly involved people with far right and racist views, like J Edgar Hoover himself, a finite number of people could have been targets, planned or unplanned.  Then where would you put the matter if CIA/FBI had a pot of money for this kind of thing, embarrassing Black power movements, but simply left the who question to the perpetrators, who would understand the biases of their clients?  They would have chosen 'someone like Tate' (a left liberal movie icon) as to not offend their clients and someone they could get their hands on, and not someone of other persuasions.

Anyway, determining most important or proximate causes may be more difficult than one would naiively suppose, especially in the broadest view, when you can consider counterfactuals of all kinds.

For example, what would have happened in the truck had broken down on the way to the Tate residence?  Well then the murder wouldn't have happened that night anyway, and Manson might have had a different goal the next day, if any.

Then where do you put such things as the highway itself.  Or the invention of things like automobiles.  Surely without those, both of these events cound not have been anything like they were.

When it comes right down to it, the cause of everything is everything.

So where does that leave us?  Causality cannot be considered an absolute description of everything that happened.  Only a description of everything that happened can be that, or some description of the same scale.  Causality is a story we create about events, selecting which things are the variables and which things are the fixed.  But the reality is that all are variable, it is only in our mind we consider some things part of a fixed background, which is the context which must exist for a notion of causality.

BTW, if you read over on my other blog, I have a (likely untrue--falsely remembered from misplaced details) story in which I caused the Tate-LaBianca murders by insulting Manson's drug access compared with that of my chosen (Hollywood) people.*  So he murders a couple of Hollywood dealers and their favorite clients to put me in my place (fear if not respect of him).  The LaBianca portion of the murders were related to my mother's first name, literally "La Nore" (she insisted on the space), so it was some kind of coded message (watch out, kid, you might be next).

Now what if the Manson murders had actually been sparked by some 13 year old kid's insult at a park? Consider the extreme case in which there was nothing else, particularly, behind Manson's decision to order murder at all AND to order murder for these specific people?  In what sense would you say that I caused the murders?  Well it certainly wouldn't be a matter of criminal liability on my part.  I had freedom of speech and an inherent right to defend myself by insulting a creepy guy.  I did nothing wrong, or at least nothing illegal.  Certainly a kid's insult isn't in any kind of balance with a terrible murder.  But from a neutral standpoint, not related to social judgement, I was part of the causality, and a more active part than a molecule in the roadway between Spahn Ranch and Cielo Drive (which must have taken a bit longer than the 20 minutes I've seen quoted)--which would have been nevertheless "a part" of the events that actually took place.

And so, guilt is restricted form of causality, a more particular kind of story.  When assessing guilt, we leave out a universe of additional causative factors, to focus on those assumed to be part of human free will.

*When I met Manson at the Chatsworth Park--2 miles from Spahn Ranch--during the years 1967-1969 preceding the Tate-LaBianca murders, possibly only days or hours beforehand, he first struck me as a country bumpkin Christian promoting his church.  Though I was only a 13 year old kid who had never used drugs, it struck me that I did not want to be leaving my infinite LA culture and becoming Christian in some country bumpkin church because that would mean giving up on a lifetime of playing with psychedelic drugs, as I imagined my future.  When we first started talking, he pointed out some alleged gaps in my world view, making me angry because I couldn't see through his rhetorical tricks. I retorted something like "But you don't have any good drugs.  What fun is that?"  All the Christians I knew were opposed to drugs.  If this is an accurate recollection--and I have serious doubts--the irony is incredibly thick.  I recall Manson quickly blurted out a bunch of details proving he knew plenty about drugs as he walked away.  I was a little blond headed kid, and my best friend and guide was a brown haired jew who had begun styling himself to look like Roman Polansky--in part because Rosemary's Baby had been his favorite movie.  All this could have made Manson angry, and angry specifically against blonde and jew pairs.  We might have been a causative factor, but not a guilty one.