It would be awesome if he finished by dropping the mic….

Here’s a letter Governor Jerry Brown sent to Ben Carson when he said that climate change was irrelevant:

Dear Dr. Carson,

I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to the Golden State. It’s come to my attention that while you were here you said the following regarding climate science:

“I know there are a lot of people who say ‘overwhelming science,’ but then when you ask them to show the overwhelming evidence, they never show it…There is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused. Gimmie a break.”

Please find enclosed a flash drive with the complete United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “Synthesis Report,” the concluding installment of the Fifth Assessment Report, published earlier this year. This report assessed over 30,000 scientific papers and was written by more than 800 scientists, representing 80 countries around the world, who definitively concluded that: “…human influence on the climate system is clear and growing, with impacts observed across all continents and oceans.”

This is just one of the thousands of reports authored by the world’s top scientists on the subject, including a study published just last month by Columbia University, University of Idaho and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientists that found climate change has intensified California’s drought. These aren’t just words. The consequences are real.

Please use your considerable intelligence to review this material. Climate change is much bigger than partisan politics.


Jerry Brown

Something Needs to Change

For the past two years we’ve had increasing evidence that something needs to change in the police/neighborhood dynamic. But Fergusson, New York City, and Baltimore are only the tip of the iceburg in every sense of the metaphor. If, like me, you follow the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Boing Boing, and other organizations committed to justice, you know that for every Freddie Gray there are dozens whose injustices don’t make it to national prominence. Of course, this isn’t even a new trend. African Americans have been complaining about harassment and being framed for a long time.


But until now it just wasn’t cheap enough for these interactions to be caught on film with as much as it is being done now. Before it was dumb luck that someone might have a video camera in public, now everyone does. And with cloud services it becomes a fruitless exercise to attempt to delete evidence of wrongdoing. So what’s to blame for this and how do we go about solving it?

I think that it is highly unlikely that so many cops are racist or power hungry thugs. Sure, statistics tells us that there will be some amount of them as cops because they are everywhere. (Racists and power hungry people in every job) While I think that everyone’s a little bit racist, what I mean is that I don’t think tons of police officers are racist in a way that they’re out to get all [insert race or ethnicity] people out there. What I think is more likely (and more troubling) is a daily experience that ends up dehumanizing the neighborhood that the police patrol. I think studies showing that it’s not as though ethnic cops are more lenient on ethnic suspects helps to affirm that conclusion.

Every day the police’s most common interactions are with criminals. So day in and day out they only see the worst of the worst in any particular neighborhood. And those they deal with are going to have every excuse and every bit of dishonesty in an attempt to get away with whatever they’ve done. For example, when talking about the man who died in a NYC offier’s choke hold, they said that suspects often complain about being unable to breathe in order to get away or attempt to gain the upper hand. This calibrates the police officer to inherently distrust everyone and distrust the situation. This is revealed by the stories of cops shooting harmless family dogs during traffic stops or even shooting harmless people who reach for their wallets. This American Life even spoke with someone who confirmed that when cops swap from night to day or one neighborhood to another, they suddenly realize how much they were dehumanizing the suspects.

This dehumanizing behavoir leads to situations like the one with Freddie Gray. As of 30 April, the Baltimore Police Department is claiming that the reason Freddie Gray was not buckled up in the police van was because they were afraid he’d bite or spit on them. However, many others have come forward and said that the cops routinely throw people back there and drive wildly, including a woman who is suing for injuries sustained during such a drive. Frustrations should not be taken out on suspects.

So how do we correct the issue? I see a few ideas that, together, could radically reduce the chances of this happening in the future. We need to revise how we treat protests, rotate police officers to reduce dehumanization, and invoke the power of the Little Brothers. Let’s take these one at a time. For about two decades now, many have been sounding the alarm on the criminalization of protests. This was very well fictionalized in Cory Doctorow’s Homeland. The simplest way of thinking about this is that when the police assume that all protests will turn violent, they end up creating conditions that make protests violent. There is evidence that this was the case in Baltimore where the police blocked kids from going to school, leading to exactly the situation they were supposed to be preventing – large numbers of disaffected kids who weren’t home. Additionally, when the peaceful protestors are jailed and held without cause it leads people to question the point of the peaceful protest. (See the first MLK Jr quote I posted).

Second, we need to rotate the beats of police officers to allow them to see not only the criminals, but also the well-behaved citizens. When someone says they can’t breathe, what unfair advantage do they gain by being admitted to the hospital? It does not un-arrest them. Let them go, and if they’re lying, let them foot the bill. If they’re not lying, you get a PR win instead of rioting that leaves citizens and police officers injured and businesses losing gobs of money.Let’s try and be creative – instead of shooting someone in the back as they flee, think of some other ways to regain control of the situation. If someone’s video taping and the unedited tape is released there should not be any reason for the actions of the police officers to be called into question.

Finally, I think we need to invoke the power of the Little Brothers. This is a term that was coined as a reaction to the omnipresent recording technology around us. Forget Big Brother (ie The Government) watching you, you’re constantly being watched by Little Brothers. For example, Micheal Phelps was not caught smoking pot by the government snooping on him – it was someone else at the party with a cell phone camera. With all the recent crises we’ve heard for a call for the police to wear body cameras, but we’ve already started to see officers get into trouble for turning it off when it’s convenient. Instead what if the cops and the cop vans (like in Baltimore) and everything they did was on without any ability to be turned off and available for all to see? Sure, we have to figure out undercover cops and witness protection type stuff. There is also the privacy issue, but I can’t think of any other incorruptible process. If the police departments hold the video they can “lose” it whenever it’s convenient. If a third party holds it, it can end up leaking anyway or they can just be paid off to “lose” or alter it. By having it all available to the public nearly live, there all incentive for all parties to act correctly. In fact, studies have shown that both cops AND suspects behave better when they think that the videos will be available for others to see.

These aren’t easy solutions, but the first two are easily doable – they’re policy changes, not tech changes. The video solution is certainly a harder one for both tech AND policy reasons, but I think it’d lead to much less of a he said/she said issue. Right now they’re claiming that Freddie Gray was purposely hurting himself in the van. Was he? Impossible to know without video.

Martin Luther King Jr and The Baltimore Riots

I’ve been meditating on a blog post about the riot in my figurative backyard. While I’m still unsure if whether I’ll end up writing anything about it, I came across some interesting MLK Jr quotes today.

A riot is the language of the unheard.

Martin Luther King Jr

and this one seems to apply not only to what I’ve heard about Baltimore, but also to what I’ve heard about Fergusson and New York City:

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Martin Luther King Jr

Kill an African American?

No problem!

But kill an elk? You are going to get convicted, you monster!

Jurors deliberated for about four hours before convicting Sam Carter on all nine counts he faced, which also included forgery and tampering with evidence.

Carter shot “Big Boy” the bull elk with his buckshot-loaded shotgun as it grazed on fallen crabapples, and then called in a friend and fellow officer to help remove it as horrified neighbors watched Jan. 1, 2013.

May The Genie Trapping Attempts Begin

Remember earlier this week when I said the gun control debate was now pointless? Apparently the State Department wants to pretend that what I said isn’t true. In a complete misunderstanding of how the Internet works, they have compelled the website holding the CAD designs for the 3D gun to remove the CAD file.  The reasoning is that leaving it up would be exporting munitions (since everyone all over the world can go to a web page) This, of course, ignores the fact that it was already obtained over 100 000 times and is already on Bit Torrent. Oh well. I guess pointless moves are better than nothing in their eyes.

Politics: Illicit Acquisition of Game of Thrones in Australia and the Death of CISPA

A bit of a news roundup for this week’s political post.

Game of Thrones - coveted by Australians
Game of Thrones – coveted by Australians

Apparently, illicit acquisition of the Game of Thrones is making things awkward for the United States Ambassador to Australia.  He’s asking Australians to please stop getting the show off the Internet. After all, the US is quick to put (or threaten to put) other countries like Spain onto their special list if they start grabbing TV shows off the net.  But Australia is an important ally so it’s embarrassing for them to be pushing the US’s buttons. Here’s where they could have done better by listening to something I’m constantly complaining about. See, according to the linked article, the issue is that for seasons 1 and 2 of Game of Thrones it was not available until a few weeks after it had aired in the US.  There’s no reason for that. It’s not like the days before current technology where physical objects need to be ferried around the world.  It’s all digital – all parts of the world should be able to watch all programs at the same time. Because NOW that it’s available a few hours after it shows in the US, the people in Australia don’t care – they’re already used to getting it for free online. So – the whole cliche about the genie being put back in the bottle.

Anti-CISPA logo

In other news – Boing Boing reports that CISPA has once again died. Although the House had passed it, the Senate did not. However, Penguin Pete provides the best explanation of why we might not need to worry about CISPA anyway. (really the only webpage outside of those involved in trying to get it passed) Pete makes a very reasoned post and I think you should definitely check it out – even if you were against CISPA. The other side has a lot of resources and I think they’re trying to wear us out by continuously bringing it up and hoping we get fatigued and give up.  So we need to make sure we save our fights for the most important issues.

Maybe the Slippery Slope is a Good Thing? Slate Has An Interesting Call For Legalizing Polygamy

Wedding Ring and Anniversary Gift
The slippery slope rebuttal can be pretty annoying depending on how dumb the person using the argument wants to be.  For example, many people say all the surveillance cameras we have everywhere are a slippery slope towards totalitarian governments.  While I think we still have a few tricks up our sleeves before we have to be worried, I give the argument some credibility because in the past one of the greatest tools totalitarian governments had at their hands was to create a snitch society.  When your neighbors (or even your kids) are going to potentially rat you out to the government, it means you really have to watch what they catch you doing.  Even something that is innocent (as far as the government’s rules) can be dangerous if your neighbor misinterprets what you’re doing.  So if you don’t have to worry about neighbors, but have video everywhere – all the worse!

A slippery slope argument I have less tolerance for is the one that says that gay marriage leads to an erosion of all marriage.  What if someone wants to marry an animal or a child or have polygamy? They say.  Which, of course, is ridiculous because two able-minded adults are entitled to do as they wish (as long as it doesn’t lead to actual harm to anyone).  I can’t see how two men or two women getting married hurts my marriage.  I still love the female form and anatomy.  Children and animals, on the other hand, are not legally afforded the capacity to make such decisions.  So that’s a dumb argument.  And leads to one of my favorite songs of the past couple years, Garfunkel and Oates’ “Sex with Ducks”:

Polygamy, on the other hand, is in another category – after all, it involves adults.

And, according to at least one writer on Slate – why not legalize polygamy? It’s an interesting question.  I guess we can tackle this on various grounds: religious, civil, and mental/emotional.  Anyone raised in Christianity and Judaism knows that the patriarchs and kings practiced polygamy.  Sometimes it was portrayed as a fact of life and other times it was portrayed as the reason a king turned from God – one of his wives wants him to worship HER god.  As we know, there is no polygamy in the New Testament. However, the intelligent question to ask is this: why is there no polygamy in the New Testament? Does it reflect a change in what God wants his people to do? (Such as the end of the need for animal sacrifice) or does it simply reflect a change in society?  During the New Testament time period, Israel is part of the Roman Empire.  So perhaps it seems too barbaric to have multiple wives? Additionally, polygamy is traditionally a rich man’s game.  It costs a lot to raise many children and provide for many wives.  In nearly every culture, including pre-1970s Vietnam, polygamy is seen as a sign of wealth.  Even in Islam, followers are told not to take multiple wives unless they can provide for them all.  The Old Testament is about kings and tribal leaders.  The New Testament is about the people.  In other words, and I can’t believe I never realized this until writing this article, but the Old Testament is about the 1% while the New Testament is about the 99%.  (At least locally – if you compare Abraham to Egypt he’s a nothing)  So I’d say that religion (at least the Abrahamic ones in the majority in America) is a little inconclusive.  If you wanted, you could ignore the reasons why we don’t see polygamy in the New Testament and say that by itself is an indictment against it.  Fair enough, but America isn’t a theocracy, so let’s consider the civil reasons for and against it.

Marriage is a contract – it always has been.  It’s just that in the modern world the only people who think about it that way are lawyers and accountants.  Historically it was used by aristocrats and monarchs to gain power and/or land.  My country and your country don’t want to fight anymore so what if my kid marries your kid.  Now the alliance is a little more solid because if you attack me you’re attacking your descendents.  Among the poor (the middle class is a relatively recent invention in the time scale of human history), marriage is a contract that has allowed for various things. For example, back when we were all farmers – compensation for losing free labor (your daughter or son depending on who went to live with who’s in-laws).  Or it could be used to gain status if your daughter could marry into a higher social class.  Why does the government care about marriage? Well, in modern times it has to do with taxes, property ownership, benefits, and who’s responsible for any children spawned from the marriage or adopted into the marriage.  So why would the government care about polygamy? I imagine that the government as an entity doesn’t give a care about polygamy. I have been known to sometimes fail to think outside the box so I’d like to see what others think.  However, my guess is that the only reason government cares about polygamy is that government is made of people and those people care. Perhaps the men are loathe to face a shortage of women as the handsome and the wealthy end up with more than one. After all, as an aggregate the natural birth process yields only slightly more women than men – last I heard it was 51% to 49% in favor of women.  So given the competition men currently have (including women who decide to be single – which is possible in the USA since ~ the 1960s without negative consequences), they might not want to allow some men to have access to all the women.

So we are left with the emotional/mental argument.  It is here that the Slate piece linked above spends most of its time.  The Slate piece mentions that those who are not into polygamy venture that the women involved don’t truly have a choice.  (Not counting certain Mormon sects where that may very well be true) This line of thinking goes that all women are loathe to share a man so the type of woman who goes into a polygamous relationship must have some mental issues we have to protect her from by making sure that polygamy is illegal.  The Slate article argues that this is not the case – women are perfectly capable of making the choice to share a man with another (or many other) women.  The Slate article goes to an even more important point – given that polygamy is going to happen no matter what for religious reasons (Mormons and Muslims), are we not making things worse for those women by marginalizing them? The article mentions that the women in those relationships are subject to abuse (as are the children) because they can’t go to the cops.  Otherwise they’ll find out about the polygamy and the innocent may end up in jail or have their character impeached to such a degree that no jury would side with them.

The most interesting thing about Slate’s arguments, and what drew me to write this response piece, is that many people make the same argument against porn and prostitution as they do against polygamy. For example, that the women are only into it because they’re damaged.  With pornography and prostitution as with polygamy the problem is that we can’t see into people’s minds.  (Yeah, that would have all kinds of scary implications, but go with me here) All we know is that when women are interviewed for porn and prostitution we find both types of women.  We find those that were forced into it either because of mental issues, abuse, or finances that meant all they had left to peddle were their bodies.  We also find those who claim they enjoy doing it and find it liberating to be able to use their bodies for profit while they can.  Are they lying? And even if they’re telling the truth, are they damaged and don’t know it? All we know is how we THINK women are supposed to behave and these behaviors don’t conform to that.  So the first reaction is that something must be wrong.

Those in sex work also face the same issues that Slate mentions the women in polygamous marriage have – they can’t go to the cops if they’re abused or mistreated by their clients or bosses (be that pimp or madame). It’s a large part of the reason that the sex slave industry can work.  As I read in Tokyo Vice among other places, it’s the inability to go to the cops if you’re in sex work (in addition to the fact that your family in the home country might be in danger) that makes it such a powerful cage.  Does that mean it should be legalized?

It’s a very interesting comparison because both sex work (the non-coerced kind) and polygamy involve consenting adults. The only difference is that the motivation behind the two is that one is motivated by love and the other is motivated by lust.  Or at least that’s how it seems on the surface. There is no requirement for marriage to be based on love. As I mentioned above, that was almost never the reason for marriage until much more recent times. In fact, there was a very long tradition of women getting the love portion of their relationship fulfilled by admirers and serenades. And while probably 99.99% (unscientific number) of all sex work revolves around pure lust – there will be some percentage of people who are simply paying for sex because it’s the only way they can get some. And sex is a recognized human NEED, not a want. On the scheme of things, it’s much more ethical for someone like that to directly pay for sex than go through the charade of a first date on the odds of maybe getting sex.

When all is said and done, I’m not sure what my final position is on polygamy. The Slate article got my mind going. I now have a better understanding of those in a polygamous relationship not as freaks or cult members, but people who want a different marital arrangement. Would I ever partake in one? Heck no! It’s enough work for me to juggle the needs of my wife, daughter, family, and self without adding another adult woman to the mix. I’ve been thinking a lot about the gay marriage issue since it’s been in the news so much and I wonder if a lot of the people against it are just acting on simple fears. For example, it’s now going to be a LOT more complicated to explain marriage and sexual relationships to my daughter. Because I believe our sexual orientation is a part of us, I would no sooner berate her for being gay than I would for being OCD, schitzophrenic, or left or right handed. (Sorry for comparing to mental illness – I know gayness used to be in the book that defines nutty behavior) So I don’t want her to feel that she has to hide herself from me. At the same time it’s probably tiring to explain all the different couplings that could happen.  And maybe that’s part of what people don’t want to deal with when it comes to polygamy. “Daddy, why does Jon have five mommies?” Then again, that does bring up an important point, you can’t control (at least it’s my belief that you can’t) being gay. You CAN control how many people you marry.  Does that make it right or wrong to legislate against? Who knows. That’s beyond what I can currently conceive.

I know I generally only have about 4 regular commentators despite an average of 100 visitors on a slow day, but I’d be really curious to hear from others what you think about this topic. Good reasons for or against? Hint: good reasons are generally not “Because God said so” given, as I said before, this is not a theocracy. However, if you do have Bible verses (or Torah or Koran) to quote for and against, it’d be interesting to see if my paragraph on religious reasons pro and con is on the money.

Do they really need to know this?

nyc- times square

I’m not often annoyed enough with mainstream news organizations to make a big deal out of it. Plenty of stuff they do annoys me, but I rarely get so charged up that I blog about it. Recently they stoked my fire when discussing the attempted terrorism on Times Square. Take, for example the following excerpt from a newspaper article:  “The vehicle identification number was defaced, but detectives found it stamped on the engine block and axle to get a lead on the current owner.” (Alison Gendar – New York Daily News)

Even if the police were dumb enough to brag about where they found the VIN, you should have been smart enough not to print it. This guy thought he was pretty slick, rubbing out the VIN from the obvious places. You just went and told future guys about the other areas the VIN can be found. They just barely caught this guy! He was on a plane to Dubai and the doors were closed – the plane was going to take off in the next 10-15 minutes. If they hadn’t had the VIN to confirm he was the buyer of the car, he might have escaped custody!

And then there’s the following. (Start watching at 2 minutes 12 seconds) (I know it’s risky to embed video because it could disappear at any time)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Explosive and the City
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

For the day when this video clip is unavailable, it’s a montage of TV news programs where they mention how the guy screwed up his bomb and what he’d have to do next time to get it right. Thanks a lot! Don’t make them actually search the net for what they have to do, just tell them right there. “Oh,” Johnny Terrorist says, taking notes, “leave the propane tanks OPEN. Got it.” Seriously, why are you doing this? Most of your headquarters are in NYC. You’re increasing your chances of death. Can we have a little more common sense entering the newsrooms?

For the day when this video clip is unavailable, it’s a montage of TV news programs where they mention how the guy screwed up his bomb and what he’d have to do next time to get it right. Thanks a lot! Don’t make them actually search the net for what they have to do, just tell them right there. “Oh,” Johnny Terrorist says, taking notes, “leave the propane tanks OPEN. Got it.” Seriously, why are you doing this? Most of your headquarters are in NYC. You’re increasing your chances of death. Can we have a little more common sense entering the newsrooms?

Podcasts I’m Listening To

I’ve been listening to podcasts for about two years now.  I got into it because I love listening to some NPR programs, but they are always on when I’m at work or asleep on the weekends.  Eventually, I heard on NPR that they have podcasts of various shows.  I checked it out right away because in Maryland NPR is on 88.1 which is always being interfered with by SiriusXM radio receivers.  At first I only listened to a few podcasts because I didn’t own an iPod and I so I burned the podcasts to a CD-R every few days.  That got expensive, so I got an iPod shuffle.  Since podcasts don’t take up too much space, I started getting into more and more podcasts.  Some I discovered in magazines and others were recommendations from Dan.  So, I thought I would share the podcasts I listen to so that those following this blog could perhaps discover some new podcasts they didn’t know about.  Dan, for example, recently got into This American Life.  (I think after I kept telling him about it – but he may have discovered it independently)  I’m going to put links to the actual podcast URL, so just copy that into your podcather or iTunes.


The Naked Scientists – This has nothing to do with nudity.  It’s a British thing, like The Naked Chef.  This great British radio show covers science topics equivalent to what you’d read in Discover Magazine in the USA.  It’s informative while being entertaining, and I learn a lot every week.  (Approx 1 hour long)

Video Games

Giant Bombcast – This is a HILARIOUS podcast that is mostly about video games.  I say it’s mostly about video games because these guys often will go off on random tangents about what energy drinks they have, what they ate, what they did between video gaming, and other topics.  However, they always get back to video games and provide a really fun podcast.  Segments include What You’ve Been Playing, News of the World, New Releases and EMAILS!  My favorite parts are “What You’ve Been Playing” and “New Releases” where they often slag off the crap that ends up in Wiiware and DSiware.  It can be a bit geeky in the same way that some of the tech podcasts I listen to are geeky, (Approx 2.5 hours long)


American Public Media:  Marketplace – This is a really good economics show.  They talk about news that happened that day as well as stories that have been pre-prepared.  This podcast has really helped me to understand the recession and why it happened as well as whether it is getting any better.  (Approx 30 min long)

Talk of the Nation – Talk of the Nation is a call-in show that discusses news and politics Mon-Thurs and science on Friday.  It also has a special focus on Politics on Wed, although politics can be discussed on Mon, Tues, and Thursday as well.  The show usually has one guest on each side of an issue or one guest if they’re talking about a book or movie.  The hosts are very civil and keep opposing guests from the stupid fighting often seen on cable news networks.  They will also apologize for rude callers.  So I love this show to get a general view of the news without the BS of cable news.  I really like this show a lot.  The science section is of the same quality of The Naked Scientists, but they usually cover a bunch of stories and have a lot more call in with less time so they can’t be as thorough.  (Approx 30 min long)

Fresh Air – Fresh Air is one of NPR’s most famous shows.  It is similar in topic scope as Talk of the Nation, but without any listener call-in.  Also, it tends to have a heavier focus on cultural topics (books, movies, etc).  Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air for decades and is a master at interviewing her guests.  Every once in a while there is a guest host or the interview is conducted by a specialist in that industry.  (Approx 1 hour)

Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me – This is a hilarious news quiz show that features guest panelists that rotate from a roster of regulars.  Former NPR news super-star Carl Kassel is the judge of the show.  It alternates between quizzing the guest panelists and call-in guests.  It’s been on for a little over 10 years and in the last few years has been taped in front of an audience (most of the time in Chicago).  My favorite part is when they ask their questions in the form of a limerick.  The only bad part is when they go on the road for their shows, sometimes the audio isn’t as good.  (Approx 30 min long)

On The Media – Although not always perfect and although it leans a little more left than moderate, On the Media is a good podcast about media issues.  Examples include: truth in advertising, misleading news stories on the cable networks, debunking PR-speak from the White House, and other media literacy items.  I tend to enjoy it nearly all the time and it’s a good balance to news on both sides of the spectrum, calling out CNN as often as Fox News. (Approx 1 hour long)

Media Matters – This podcast is nearly as far to the left as Fox News is to the right.  I listen to it because, other than Keith Olberman on MSNBC, there aren’t really that many places that look at the far left of issues.  I find myself often disagreeing with the people interviewed, but I find it interesting to see their point of view.  On the plus side, they tend not to trade in fear mongering like those on the right often do (I’m looking at you Glen Beck).  (Approx 1 hour long)

This American Life – This is an AWESOME podcast and is often my favorite one to listen to each week.  Ira Glass introduces a series of stories that all revolve around a particular theme.  The production rocks and the stories are nearly always very interesting.  It’s hard to properly describe it – you just need to listen to a few episodes and you’ll probably be hooked.  (Approx 1 hour long)

Computers and Technology

The Commandline Podcast – This is a pretty technical podcast.  If you aren’t a computer geek, you probably won’t enjoy it.  But if you ARE a computer geek, this show, by Thomas “Cmdline” Gideon, is a really well produced show.  Cmdline goes back and forth between a news-related podcast and a meditative-based podcast.  The meditative ones contain wisdom from Cmdline’s many years in the tech world. (Approx 30 min long)

FLOSS Weekly – This is a weekly podcast (duh!) about free, libre, and open source software.  It’s another geeky podcast and if you aren’t into the open source movement, you’ll probably find it boring.  If you DO like open source news, they tend to get interviews with really neat project maintainers and the hosts are all Titans in the open source world:  Jono Bacon, Randal Schwartz, and Leo Laporte. (Approx 60 min long) edit:  corrected to 60 min from 30 min

Linux Outlaws – A pretty good Linux podcast.  Dan (British) and Fab (German) talk about the latest news and releases in the Linux world.  As with most of the other podcasts in this category, I don’t recommend it if you’re not really into Linux.  They are approachable, but if you don’t like Linux, there isn’t much here.  They tend to run really long and it can be annoying sometimes.  Unlike Giant Bombcast, they only have two hosts so tangents don’t lead to as many funny moments.  (Approx 2.5 hours)

Shot of Jaq – Shot of Jaq is a podcast by LugRadio veterans Stuart “Aq” Langridge and Jono Bacon.  Whereas LugRadio was often 2 hours long and focused on Linux, Shot of Jaq is 10 minutes long and focused on technology in general with a slant towards FLOSS.  It’s the shortest podcast I listen to and they usually talk about interesting topics.  It takes the form of a conversation between the hosts almost as a classical Lincoln-Douglas debate as they are often on opposite sides of an issue.  (Approx 10 minutes long)

Spectrum Podcasts – This is the official podcast of IEEE Spectrum.  It’s OK.  But it’s not too long and they have decent interviews.  (Approx 15 minutes long)

This Week in Photography – A Photography podcast featuring a revolving cast of four professional photographers.  It seems to follow the same format of Giant Bombcast, except about Photography.  It starts out with general conversation followed by news.  Then there’s an interview with an industry giant, followed by picks of the week where they talk about hardware and software people should try out.  Then they read emails and end the show.  It’s pretty good if you’re into photography. (Approx 45 min long)

Tux Radar – Yet another Linux podcast.  It’s the official podcast of Linux Format Magazine.  They talk about Linux and joke around.  It’s pretty good; I’d probably give it a 7.5/10. (Approx 45 min long)

The Current Financial Mess – We Never Should have ended up Here

Today I was listening to Fresh Air on NPR.  They had an economics guy on who’s now a professor at one of the University of Maryland campuses and was involved in Clinton’s economic team.  (Although he didn’t always see eye to eye with Clinton’s treasury secretary)  This guy put the current economic crisis in the best terms and framed it so well, I can’t believe that we’re in this mess.  Those stupid jackasses on Wall Street “were betting that people who did not have money to pay their mortgage would pay their mortgage.”  Just take a second and read that again.  Yeah, pretty nutty, isn’t it?  If people had just used their noggins we wouldn’t be in this mess.  “Sure,” you might say, “hindsight is 20/20.”  Yeah, but it doesn’t take hindsight to see that people who have bad credit probably aren’t going to pay their mortgage.  Couple that with the fact that Wall Street swindled them into interest only loans and variable rate mortgages, and you HAD to see that a disaster was on the way.  Again, they were betting that people who didn’t have the money to pay their mortgage would somehow pay their mortgage.  Again, in their defense you might say, “but they thought housing prices were always going to go up.”  And to that I say, WHEN has ANY market EVER gone up FOREVER?  Hello!  The tech bubble was just 10 years ago!  Nothing ever goes up without an end.  That’s just ridiculous.  Sigh!  Seriously, I don’t know how they let this happen.  These guys all have degrees in finance.  They should have known and done case studies on how whatever’s hot now won’t be hot in a few years.  And then AIG freakin’ insures the mortgages of people with bad credit?  I just can’t believe it!