Archive for June, 2017

Making America Sick Again?

Call me stupid, but I don’t understand why American politicians think that people can do without health insurance. Just read Eric Meyer’s plea:

Without insurance, even if we’d been able to get the insurer’s rate, we’d have gone bankrupt. All our investments, our house, everything gone. If pre-existing conditions had prevented us from being covered, or if we’d been less fortunate and unable to afford premiums—bankrupted.

In which case, Rebecca’s brother and sister would have suffered her death, and the loss of their home and what precious little remained normal in their lives.

How many families live through that double hell? How many go completely broke trying to save their child?

How many families will have to go through that double hell in the future? According to the Congressional Budget Office, many – here is their evaluation of the current proposal…

Ken Norton has a story to tell as well…
Click the image to read it on Twitter

It may be true that a certain style of living can help you stay healthier; one of the best ways to make that happen is, of course, making sure that our environment isn’t polluted. Anyway, getting ill isn’t something you do by choice, and no sane person goes to the doctor just for fun.

Dave Winer has another take on the subject, but comes to the same conclusion:

I’m not going to go into all the detail here, but every way you look at it, disease follows the pattern of a natural catastrophe. So the only reasonable way to fund treatment is to pay taxes, and that’s it.

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I have been a fan of science fiction literature since my youth. It started with a few books in Dutch when I was a teenager, with books from Paul van Herck and Carl Lans. I currently own 300+ titles, almost exclusively in English – going to the source seemed the best way to enjoy the genre.

So after talking about 1984, allow me to introduce another literary classic (which I haven’t yet read in its entirety, alas), commented by Cory Doctorow in a Slate article titled “I’ve Created a Monster! And so can you.“:

Frankenstein warns of a world where technology controls people instead of the other way around. Victor has choices to make about what he does with technology, and he gets those choices wrong again and again. But technology doesn’t control people: People wield technology to control other people.

People wield technology to control other people” – how true. Machines, be they constructued in hard- or software, don’t do anything, unitl guided by people. But is Cory Doctorow talking about the Facebooks and Twitters of this world, or about the NSA and other hackers? Both, probably. It remains remarkable how this insight was captured in a book more than 100 years ago.

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I should be re-reading “1984” again – it’s been many years since I opened the copy on my bookshelf. And there are good reasons to do so, if only to get a better grasp on what happens today in the world.

The dystopian future Orwell portrays in 1984 helps illuminate our post-9/11 world. In the novel, the government of “Big Brother” carries on a perpetual war that, as in American life today, “involves very small numbers of people, mostly highly trained specialists, and causes comparatively few casualties. The fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at.” And just as young Americans today have lived with that anti-terror campaign all their lives, so too 1984’s hero, “Winston,” “could not definitely remember a time when his country had not been at war.”

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Superheroes Can Be Funny, Too!

Just go looking for the phone number of Adam West (the actor playing the original Batman on TV) in the telephone guides of Sun Valley, CA.

See the rest of the story in Rusty’s photos on Flickr
by clicking of the image

Thanks, Rusty Blazenhoff!

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Yesterday, Samsung pushed an OTA software update to my Galaxy S7. I’m not in a position to tell you exactly which modifications were applied – it certainly was not Android 7.1. Samsung offered no details on screen, so I can only rely on what I can glean from the current status of the device. My conclusion: I suppose that the 214MB update mostly consisted of security enhancements…

Here’s what the “Software information” screen has to say:

Software Information about the latest S7 update in Belgium

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The Global Digital Citizen Foundation developed the questions, BoingBoing pointed me to them. While certainly not complete, the list is an excellent start to evaluate whatever “news” or message is presented to you. Don’t “believe”, think!

Click on the image to download your copy of the Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet

We should make copies of this cheatsheet in as many languages as we can!

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As it turns out, Nikon had to release a second firmware update for the Nikon D5600, in order to correct the troublesome connectivity of  SnapBridge. In their own words, firmware 1.0.2 will provide “Improved pairing and connectivity between the camera and Android versions of the SnapBridge app“. I don’t use SnapBridge that often, but making a connection between devices should be simple, and certainly simpler than what I had to do 4 months ago.

Indeed: downloading the Android app on my smartphone and connecting both devices took just few clicks on both sides. I hope it goes fluidly for you too!

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The weather of last few weeks of May Was relatively sunny, here in Belgium. Nevertheless, the solar energy production of the past month ended up (slightly) below average, and below the target of 290 KWh that I hoped to achieve.

(Click the image to see a full-size version)

What our cells need, is lots of sun and temperatures that don’t go into the high twenties or more (Celcius!) – but that combination is rather rare here in summer.

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