Byrd's Brain

Tuesday, July 30
 
If you have an inflated sense of self worth, just go to the dentist for a crown. I was at the dentist's office for over two hours this morning. I just got back. My mouth is numb. It is much easier to write this than to talk to someone.

I spent the bulk of my morning in a chair on my back with a dental dam holding my mouth open. As you lay there, looking in the mirror above it is difficult to be arrogant. You can't talk. Your face is numb from novocaine. People have their hands, drills and picks in your mouth. And your lips are getting drier and drier the longer you sit there. After a while your nose itches, but you can't scratch it just yet -- there is a drill in your mouth. This is leveling experience.

This is reality check time. Everyone goes to the dentist. No matter how high and mighty they may be, they still may have to lay on their back with their mouth forced open. Remember that sometime a celebrity mouths off about something. That celebrity, whether they want to admit it or not, is really the same as the rest of us. (But they probably do have better insurance.) We are all human. We share the same experiences.

And today was just for the temporary crown. I get to go back again next month for the permanent crown.



Monday, July 29
 
Okay. I was going to put the blame on Blogger and its lack of utilities for Macs. But it is operator error and operator error alone. This is my third try at writing this Blog. Clearly I need to remember to save work before cruising around the internet.

What is up with people at malls, grocery stores and wherever else you go. People don't want to make eye contact. People don't want to say "Hi", to strangers. Why not? What are they afraid of? Do people think that someone else might bite? People hurry by without acknowledge those around them. We may as well be in bubbles. Something akin to the cone of silence from Get Smart but much more portable. People are afraid of the unknown. We don't know how a stranger will react. We don't now if the encounter will be unpleasant. If we said "hello" more often we would get over that fear. In constant fear we have no community. Without community we cannot survive. Whether we like it or not we depend on others. The world is a web which we weave. It can be a tight weave or a loose weave. We are the weavers. We choose the colors and the tightness of the weave. If it is too tight we keep everyone else out.

We can't have community without making connections with other people. Too have community we need to be sure that the weave is loose enough to let others in. We won't catch a virus from saying,"Hi". We might catch it anyway, from our daughter. To make a connection, however small, is to start to form community. The act reminds ourselves and others that we are all in this together. And the act of saying "hi", punctuates the moment. It is more meaningful than scurrying by and racing home. If we race we are not in the present moment. We are thinking ahead to what we need to do. Our body may be at the grocery store, but our mind is somewhere else.

Admittedly, if we change surf the web before saving our files we are not in the present moment. Being in the present moment actually takes practice. Society trains up to think and plan ahead. We need to take time to breathe and say "hello".

Peace Profound

Friday, July 26
 
Today is the 10th Anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act. This Act somehow was signed into law by Bush Sr. when he was president. I can't even imaging his son signing anything like this now that he is our president. This Act is designed to help people with diasablities keep and get jobs and get access to information that is available to people without any disabilities.

In the web world this means that websites should be designed for use by persons with disabilities. For examole, a site should allpw electronic readers -- used by people with visual impairments -- to "read". In practice, this means no frames and no or limited java script. It also means that descriptive alt tags should be used whenever there are graphics on a page and that fonts should be scalable instead of fixed. With a scalable font a user can adjust the size of the text using the view tab on their browser. That way the text is bigger and easier to read if your eyesight isn't great. Graphics aren't scalable. So if you can't see them well you can't adjust them so that you can see them.

I just ran a test on this site and this blogger template fails all accessibility levels. Its default fonts are fixed and the graphics don't have tags. I have some html work to do to get this site compliant. You can check our your own or any other site with the Bobby compliance tool. Go to: http://bobby.cast.org/html/en/index.jsp

Thursday, July 25
 
More smoke and mirrors? I certainly hope not. Think globally and act locally. California has done that. This week California Governor Davis signed in to law a bill that is touted as "stopping global warming" in California. Not that any state can stop global warming by itself, but it sounds good. This bill was stridently opposed by the auto industry and car dealerships. One California car dealer ran full page newspaper ads declaring the dangers posed by the legislation. The ads proclaimed that Californians' right to the car they want would be restricted! The SUV of their choice would not be sold. First of all, I know of no Constitutional right to own the car that I or anyone else wants. Car dealers must have a different constitution. And secondly, can everyone say that they can get the car -- whatever it might be -- that they want now?

No. We buy a car from those offered. Granted the legislation may limit or change the way that car manufacturers and dealers make money. They just may have to sell cars that don't pollute as much as the SUVs that they sell so many of now. With their shortsighted vision, I guess that that means that they won't be selling any cars in the future. But someone will be. And they will be making money. They will sell whatever cars are being offered that comply with the new pollution standards. And people will buy them hopefully because they want to and also because there won't be any other cars offered for sale.

The smoke and mirrors fear comes in as the bill is implemented. It is supposed to be a very pro-environment statute. However, the regulations that are to decrease auto emissions are yet to be drafted. A state agency has 4 years to draft them. That long political process could result in watered down regulations. If the regulations are diluted then auto makers will then, of course, sue to stop the regulations from going into effect. Thus there could be endless delay. Finally, even if all goes well and the regulations are decent and are upheld by a court, the car makers have another few years before cars will have to meet the new standards.

That is a long time to wait for cleaner air. But then Bush and his ilk aren't doing anything about the environment -- except to find more places to drill and mine. So I guess that waiting 10 years until a number of cleaner cars are on the road isn't so bad after all. And maybe other states will follow California's lead and adopt similar legislation. Let's hope.

Peace profound.

Wednesday, July 24
 
Who the hell is in charge? It certainly isn't me. Some members of Congress want a law that would permit record companies to hack and disable the computers of people who use peer to peer sites. Reps. Howard Berman, D-Calif. and Howard Coble, R-N.C., are expected to introduce the measure this week. The bill would permit copyright holders to perform nearly unchecked electronic hacking if they have a "reasonable basis" to believe that piracy is taking place. Let's here it for vigilante justice.

How could someone even propose this? I'm not saying that infringing on someone's copyright is a good thing. But I am saying that we shouldn't arm businesses with the ability to take the law into their own hands. What is even worse -- if anything can be -- is that the legislation protects groups, such as the Motion Picture Association of America from state and federal laws if they disable, block or otherwise impair a "publicly accessible peer-to-peer network." And if your computer is damaged by the MPAA you can't even sue without prior permission from the Attorney General (John "lock 'em up" Ashcroft).

In other words without a trial or any due process, a company or trade association could legally hack into your computer (with a virus or a worm, perhaps) and destroy the hard drive. And you can't do anything about it.



Tuesday, July 23
 
All politics seems to be smoke and mirrors. Today that seems to be even more true. Political posturing is everywhere. Politicians -- particularly at the state and national -- level don't seem to be doing anything, but then you would never know that from the news coverage. In California there is "budget" news every day. But California hasn't had a budget for almost a month. The Democrats and the Republicans won't budge on their positions. So there is no budget. State employees may not get paid. Counties may not get needed funds. Hospitals may curtail emergency room treatments. But the legislature still gets paid. If they don't feel the pain then they can wait indefinitely for the other side to blink. It is just that everyone else suffers.

Nationally, we constantly hear about the fight against terrorism. Lately the big thing is the need to consolidate federal agencies in order to protect the public. We've got a real smoke and mirrror man in the White House. He wants a new agency for Homeland Security to protect us from terrorists. But protection isn't the real reason that he wants this. He is having Congress go through the agony and distraction of reviewing and eventually approving his new agency (..and through our taxes we pay for this time wasting...) This agency won't make any difference to you or me -- unless you are a federal worker, in which case you may be fired. The intelleigence problems, prior to September 11th, related to the CIA and the FBI. These agencies had information about the impending attack on the WTC, but each agency failed to do anything with the information. No one was able to put the clues together. An new agency won't help the CIA and the FBI. These agencies won't be part of the Homeland Security agency. They will be "untouched". They will be left as they are to muddle on and screw up again. Protecting the public isn't the concern of Poppy Junior. No, he justs wants to protect his butt. And as long as we think that he is doing something, his ass is safe.

Monday, July 22
 
While laying in bed this morning I listened to a report on NPR about the history of surfing in Hawaii. I had no idea that for hundreds of years surfing was a traditional sport in Hawaii. Apparently, Christian missionaries didn't approve of it and discouraged it. So its popularity faded. Prior to the missionaries there had been surfing areas for royalty and seperate areas for "the people". If a commoner surfed in the royal area they might be beaten or even killed. Bizarre.

The surfing craze was reignited in 1959 with the release of the movie "Gidget". The power of the media to influence is once again higlighted. What is it that we are searching for? What is it that we as humans need? Are our wants, needs and desires really so fickle that masses can be influenced by a movie? If so, can we assume that eyeglasses are in vogue and that Harry Potter style glasses are all the rage? Are they? I don't know. I'll have to look into this further.