Monday, April 29, 2013

Assistive Technology on Google Glass

I've always been a fan of technology. I want to be surrounded by computers, smart phones, remote controls, drones, radio controlled airplanes, or anything else with a wow factor. That alone would be good enough to get Google Glass if they weren't too expensive. But what would make Google Glass a necessity instead of being relegated to nothing more than an outdated, overrated Bluetooth headset would be if it could provide some assistive technology right in front of my eyes where it would be the most useful.

Being colorblind, it's difficult to communicate effectively with people that describe things in terms of color. There are rudimentary programs available for smartphones that do a pretty good job of distinguishing between the more basic colors. I want that ability -- or preferably an improved version -- right up there in front of my eyes instead of in my purse.

Old eyes, at least my old eyes, also sometimes have trouble making out fine print or small print at a distance. How about having a feature that would magnify the text that I am looking at if it falls below a certain visibility standard? It shouldn't matter whether the text is too far away for me to read or whether it is printed too small. If I am trying to read it and the text isn't large enough, I want my glasses to be able to compensate.

And while I am thinking about text, how about if they would change the color or text when someone makes the incredibly bad decision to print black text on a really dark red background. I know that the processors in cellphones can handle this type of action, I bet Google Glass could as well.

Provide me with interchangeable programs to highlight the things I want to see. Maybe I am driving and want a driving mode; something that would calculate how close I am to the car in front of me, give me a constant readout on my speed and other information from the dashboard, and perhaps alert me to any obstacles on the side of the road that might run out in my way whether it be a child or a deer.

Show me something that I can't see with my own eyes. Let me see what the world looks like in the infrared or ultraviolet. Perhaps this type of vision would be useful at some point, or maybe it could be overlaid on top of my already existing vision. Perhaps thermal enhanced vision would be perfect for the driving mode I wondered about above.

These are just a few of the ideas I have off the top of my head. These are the kind of things I want from a wearable device, not just a smartphone extension. I already have a camera on my smartphone that takes fantastic pictures. And since it is hand-held, I can probably get a much better angle for a picture than I ever could having it affixed to my eyebrow.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oklahoma Congress Only Living Nine Years in the Past?

It's troubling to live in Oklahoma sometimes. Despite how nice and social the average person on the street can be, there are beliefs buried so deep in the Oklahoma consciousness that can easily leave me bludgeoned and breathless with their cruelty. Today was yet another example of the breadth of the unthinking callousness that still permeates the state from time to time.

Okla. state Senate approves anti-gay marriage resolution as reported by LGBTQ Nation.
The resolution sponsored by Norman Republican Sen. Rob Standridge was quickly adopted Tuesday on a voice vote.
The House passed the resolution unanimously last week, but more than a dozen representatives walked out of the chamber instead of voting.
The only bright side is that there are now a few people, at least in the Oklahoma House, willing to walk out on such hateful ideology.

The resolution doesn't carry the weight of law, but that doesn't matter. In 2004 Oklahoma passed Oklahoma State Question 711 (Wikipedia link) changing the Oklahoma constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. It isn't enough to outlaw someone else's love, they also have to try to stomp on them even when there isn't anything the minority can do to defend themselves.

I have one hope for the Oklahomans that support these forms of discrimination: I hope they live long enough to have to explain to their children and grandchildren why they were so against a minority that they would outlaw their love and deny them happiness.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Preface of The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

Keynes divided his book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money into six different books, each book containing multiple chapters. For now, I am going to follow the same pattern in my review of his book. If any of the chapters have too much information or require a more detailed explanation, I might have to break them into smaller pieces.

Keynes states in the preface of The General Theory that he was addressing the book chiefly at his fellow economists, but he hoped that it would be understandable by a more general, wider audience.

Prior to Keynes writing, and including some earlier writing by Keynes, the focus had been on an instantaneous picture of the economy. The idea was that, given a steady output, supply and demand forces would arise that would cause the need to change the output. The problem was that they dynamics of the change were left largely in the dark. In other words, it seemed like they could get a picture of what would change that very second, but not where the economy was going in general.

Keynes tries to correct those problems with this book, stating:

This book, on the other hand, has evolved into what is primarily a study of the forces which determine changes in the scale of output and employment as a whole; and, whilst it is found that money enters into the economic scheme in an essential and peculiar manner, technical monetary detail falls into the background. A monetary economy, we shall find, is essentially one in which changing views about the future are capable of influencing the quantity of employment and not merely its direction.

So technical monetary detail falls to the background? How can that be? Money seems to be the thing that makes the world go around. It doesn't matter whether it is concerning taxes, paychecks, retirement plans, or the latest gadget advertised on television; money seems to be the primary focus of all things political and economic. And that seems to be as true today as it was in Keynes time. But Keynes warned that the difficulty wasn't in the theories in the book, the problem was in the challenge to see things differently than we have seen all our lives.

... a struggle of escape from habitual modes of thought and expression. The ideas which are here expressed so laboriously are extremely simple and should be obvious. The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.

Gosnell is an example of pro-life policies

People are absolutely correct when they look at the tragedy committed by Gosnell as a problem with pro-life policies. The fact that there was no access to abortion for the poor, unfortunate women was what brought them to Gosnell's clinic in the first place. It wasn't like Gosnell was doing -- or even trying to do -- legal, healthy abortions in the first place.
The only way to have atrocities like that in this country is for the provider to break the law. The more strict the laws, the more likely you are to have these kinds of atrocities.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Keynesian Economic Study Project

Keynesian economics is the basis for much of the current economic philosophy. When people argue about how to get out of a recession or how to increase jobs, they are arguing over Keynesian economics.
Despite the importance of Keynesian economics, many people are neither aware of the source nor familiar with the underlying theory. Much to my delight, John Keynes' book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money is available in the public domain. Some of the reproductions aren't of the highest quality, while others are better.
I have used the overall ideas from this book on many occasions as a starting point for many of my economic ideas without ever having read the book. I have settled for secondhand information about the theories and been forced to 'reinvent the wheel' when there were portions I didn't know. Now that I have some time, I plan on going over the book in minute detail and discovering not only what they theories predict, but more importantly what they are in response to and why they are expected to work.
If you are interested in following along, be warned that it will be slow going. Many of the ideas take time to understand completely. Other ideas are rooted in long established economic theory and jargon that needs to be understood before proceeding. Often times it is necessary to take a break from the book; define words, concepts, and ideas; only then returning to the book to understand the theory in question.
The task isn't for the faint of heart; but if you are interested, I am using a good copy of the book I found on While this book is in the public domain and available for free at Project Gutenberg, the formatting of the copy seems to be really good making the study easier.
If you do decide to spend money on a digital copy of this book, beware: since this book is available in the public domain, there are some people that are taking a poor copy from the internet, putting it into e-book format, and selling it compete with all the errors found on many of the available public domain copies. I have linked to a copy of the e-book that I am using, and it seems to be an excellent copy complete with footnotes, hyperlinks, proper formatting, and correct spelling and punctuation.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Weaponized Christianity of Oppression

Sometimes it is difficult to properly express the problem I have with Christianity. It isn't that it is so difficult to put into words, but it is difficult to get anyone to listen long enough to understand exactly what the problem is.
Some of the nicest, most kind, most gracious, and admirable people I know are Christians. They are the kind of people that, while not making me desire to be a Christian, I can look up to and try to emulate they way that they approach life. This isn't meant as a compliment to them; it's just a fact. They are wonderful people, and Christianity is a part of who they are as a person.
Alternately, some of the cruelest, most self-centered, most uncaring people I know use Christianity as a cudgel to verbally bludgeon others mercilessly.
One of the primary problems that I see with Christianity is that, by claiming the title, anyone is almost immune to criticism for anything they say, or do to others -- especially if the deed is done in the name of Christianity. It becomes impossible to say anything to someone that is abusing others as long as they are hiding behind Christianity because everyone else that claims the title of Christian for themselves will rise up in defense and claim that they are being abused for their Christian belief.
After you have calmed their fear that they are somehow the victim of some sort of anti-christian abuse, only then can you begin to discuss what the original problem was to begin with. At this point one of two things usually happens: either the person waves their hand and says that the mean Christian wasn't actually a Christian, or they dismiss the mean Christian as someone that just has a different opinion of Christianity.
Regardless of the direction the conversation takes, the person usually dismisses whatever claim has been made against the mean Christian and considers the issue resolved. But the underlying issue of using Christianity as a cudgel is left untouched.
People can do good things with Christianity or without it. I have tried diligently to believe that Christianity is neutral at worst and possible even a good thing for some people. The problem I keep coming back to is that too many people use Christianity as both a weapon and a human shield. They use a weaponized version Christianity as a sword to brutally attack anyone that won't defer to their opinion and then use the nice Christians to provide them cover when someone sees them as the oppressors that they are.
Despite my desire to not see Christianity as a general negative in society, I am beginning to think that the atheists that see Christianity as a net loss to society just might be right. Perhaps Christianity does do more harm than it does good in the world.