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how to influence friends and win people

I rarely comment about politics, and rarely regret not posting, but this is one of those times I thought about saying something earlier and didn’t, and now I regret it. This should have been said months ago, but there will be more elections to come, so better late than never. It’s about talking to people, but don’t worry, it has nothing to do with respect.

There are two ways to persuade people. Find something they care about and convince them you’re right, or convince them to care about something, and then convince them you’re right. The second is a lot more work than the first.

The more obviously persuasive an argument seems to you, the less persuasive it probably is for the people who don’t already agree. This doesn’t mean they can’t be persuaded, but it means shouting louder won’t work. It’s like pulling a lever to effect a change. Some of the levers are connected, and some aren’t, and it doesn’t matter how hard you pull on the ones that aren’t. The levers that are connected, however, still work.

Continue reading how to influence friends and win people...

Posted 2016-11-14 01:38:18 by tedu Updated: 2016-11-14 01:38:18
Tagged: politics thoughts

who hacked madam?

The second season of Madam Secretary devotes several episodes to the hacking of the flight controls on Air Force One and the ensuing cyberwar. It’s fiction because nobody in real life is hot as Téa Leoni. Therefore it is totally unrelated to current events.

The trouble begins when AFO disappears over the Pacific. Madam must become Acting President for approximately forty minutes, just long enough to sign a pardon for a wrongfully imprisoned journalist before the episode ends.

Later, we learn that the plane was hacked by some very sophisticated malware. It penetrated three firewalls. Nevertheless, it gives up its secrets under the careful study of the president’s cyber czar, Oliver, who’s basically a black mudge.

Continue reading who hacked madam?...

Posted 2016-07-30 01:08:57 by tedu Updated: 2016-07-30 01:08:57
Tagged: moviereview politics


Strolling through the book store, among the new titles on display in the politics section was Ratfucked by David Daley. What could this be about? The subtitle, The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy, conjured up images of telepathic lizard men so I passed it by. A little while later, though, I saw the New Yorker’s review and summary which sounds a lot better. It describes a plan to target particular districts in local elections, win control of the state, then aggressively gerrymander the map to ensure future victories as well. Of particular interest, the summary focused on some local Pennsylvania elections and the damned Arlen Specter library. Sounds great, this is worth a read. In fact, the cover image subtitle for the Kindle version, How the Democrats Won the Presidency But Lost America, is much more accurate and less sensational. (The book title is actually stylized Ratf**ked because the author is a pussy.)

Continue reading ratfucked...

Posted 2016-07-12 13:41:55 by tedu Updated: 2016-11-09 00:32:02
Tagged: bookreview politics thoughts

convention quote quiz

Some quotes pulled from recent New Yorker article on the history of presidential nominations. Who said it and when?

“The Republican National Convention at Cleveland next week promises to be a very dull show.”

“Have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes.”

“Free the delegates.”

“Americans must rule America.”

“This is strictly a white man’s party.”

“I wish I could slay a Mexican.”

“We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race.”

“In this bright new century, let me ask you to win to your side the women of the United States.”

“Women will decide the outcome of this election.”

“Are the American people fit to govern themselves?”

“The will of the people is crap.”


Posted 2016-07-02 18:43:56 by tedu Updated: 2016-07-02 18:43:56
Tagged: magreview politics quote

best of seven elections

Here’s a proposal for a new voting system that solves the problems of day after regret and “I didn’t think it mattered” common to current voting systems. Over the course of seven days, seven independent elections are held, each with the same ballots. The results of each election are calculated separately, and the ultimate winner is the best of seven, or four. As an added wrinkle, each voter will be restricted to voting three times, although they may choose any three of the seven to participate in.

First, this solves the problem of voter regret. If, after your first vote, you realize you hung the wrong chad, casting the balance of the two remaining votes in opposition will effectively reverse it.

Second, it allows apathetic voters to see which way the wind is blowing. If the first few votes turn out to be very close, then newly interested voters will have the opportunity to express their opinion in the later elections. Turn out the vote campaigns will be freshly energized by demonstrating how important each vote is. On the other hand, if the results can be decided early, those voters can spend their valuable time playing LoL.

Motivated voters can choose to vote early, in the vanguard, in an effort to establish momentum. Others may choose to hang back deliberately, saving their votes for a knock out in the later rounds.

Additionally, if a voter is unable to vote on a particular day because little Timmy fell down the well, this system provides them with multiple opportunities to cast a makeup vote (barring any last day mishaps).

Sounds like a plan?

Posted 2016-06-25 21:05:59 by tedu Updated: 2016-06-25 21:20:26
Tagged: politics rants

videre vincere est

Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker is underway. The basic facts, that Gawker published excerpts from a video showing Hogan having sex with a wife that was not his own, are not in dispute. Hogan alleges that publication of the video of his intimate affair is a violation of privacy. Alas for Hogan, he can’t make a copyright claim because the video was recorded by the home security camera of the cuckolded husband, Bubba the Love Sponge.

Gawker is making the expected First Amendment defense. Or, in their words, “Because the Internet has made it easier for all of us to be shameless voyeurs and deviants, we love to watch famous people have sex.” See? Public interest.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away in another courtroom, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Erin Andrews in her lawsuit against a hotel that allowed a peeper to record a naked video of her. Before posting the videos publicly, he had attempted to sell them to TMZ, who declined. Apparently the so called journalists at TMZ don’t care about the public interest.

(For the record, I’ve always loved Hulk Hogan, or at least the character that is Hulk Hogan. I’ve never been quite as impressed with Gawker’s character.)

Posted 2016-03-08 03:29:17 by tedu Updated: 2016-03-29 18:40:05
Tagged: politics


Time and Esquire both went full Trump this week, with cover titles of “How Trump Won” and “Hater in Chief”, respectively. Not to mention very similar red, white, and gray color themes.

Time’s feature article mostly focuses on how the Donald defied the GOP powerbrokers to run his own show. Disintermediation (aka the Netflix effect) comes to politics. (Again? Aren’t we regaled with tales of the brave outsider every election?) Curiously the same magazine that criticizes the “lamestream” media for its failed predictions of Trump’s fall also points out that none of the frontrunners at the start of 2012 won their primary. So, in short, something could happen, and it could be like before or it could be different.

Continue reading trump...

Posted 2016-01-20 22:51:32 by tedu Updated: 2016-01-20 22:51:32
Tagged: magreview politics

the popepocalypse is nigh

The Pope is coming. And so, unlike the earthquake and two hurricanes Philadelphia has recently weathered, everything must be shut down. And what’s not shut down must be locked down.

Center City looks quite different without any cars parked on the streets. Or Big Belly trash cans on street corners. Or mailboxes. But sidewalks are lined with portapotties as far as the eye can see. It’s more than a little ridiculous.

The Pope is holding mass on the Franklin Parkway, so it makes some sense to prepare the immediately surrounding area. But this same area, earlier this month, hosted the Made in America concert without such extreme measures. The Beatles may be bigger than Jesus, but the Pope is still bigger than Beyoncé.

There’s some question of separation of church and state, though it’s not too big a deal for me. The Pope is a foreign dignitary. There were some special arrangements made when, e.g. Nelson Mandela gave a speech here. And arrangements might also be made if Richard Dawkins were popular enough to draw such crowds. What’s unprecedented is the scope of the restrictions.

A line has been crossed where the inconveniences of this visit are being imposed on everyone in the city, not just the people living immediately adjacent to the planned events. Subway and bus service is all carved up. (And originally with doubled fares, although they seem to have backed down from that.) Personal vehicles will be forbidden from entering the Center City area for the entire weekend. This isn’t a matter of higher than usual traffic slowing things down. This is the city simply shutting down. Giving up.

Here’s a page of maps showing the ever expanding no fun zone.

The city has promised they aren’t paying for any of this. I remain deeply suspicious that the IOC accountant was hired to reach that conclusion.

Posted 2015-09-23 15:12:42 by tedu Updated: 2015-09-23 15:12:42
Tagged: philly politics

the peculiar libretunnel situation

The author of stunnel has (once, twice) asserted that stunnel may not be used with LibreSSL, only with OpenSSL. This is perhaps a strange thing for free software to do, and it creates the potential for some very weird consequences.

First, some background. The OpenSSL license and the GPL are both free software licenses, but they are different flavors of freedom, meaning you can’t mix them. It would be like mixing savory and sweet. Can’t do it. Alright, so maybe technically you can do it, but you’re not supposed to. The flavor, er, freedom police will come get you. One workaround is for the GPL software to say, oh, but maybe wait, here’s an exception. (Does this make the software more or less free?) Here’s a longer explanation with sample exception.

Continue reading the peculiar libretunnel situation...

Posted 2015-09-01 04:29:06 by tedu Updated: 2015-09-01 04:29:06
Tagged: politics software

health insurance nightmare

I used to have health insurance. I suppose I was pretty happy with it, although I didn’t think too much about it. It was, in the truest sense, insurance. I paid about $100 per month in exchange for coverage against unforeseen disasters (cancer, dismemberment, ebola, etc.). The premium was pretty low because it didn’t cover must of the day to day things; my doctor’s office copay was also about $100. Apparently somebody in the government decided my plan was unethical or unaffordable or subbronze or something, because it’s been cancelled.

Now I have to go through the signup process all over again, but this time I have to choose a plan with a minimum of a $200 per month premium. But my copay will only be $50. So I pay an extra $100 12 times per year to save $50 once per year. According to government math, this will save me money.

I was vaguely in support of Obamacare in the abstract, but much like the Republicans foretold, my support didn’t survive contact with the enemy. Er, I was promised I could keep my plan if I liked it. I liked my plan. I couldn’t keep it.

And so begins my adventure. Despite assurances that the service was now fully operational, my first attempt to get insurance in December failed. I was told to try again later. So now it’s later and, and somehow the system has decided that I may be eligible for Medicaid or state assistance or something, and won’t actually let me enroll. I have to wait for my friendly local state agency to contact me. Will they contact me before the 3:00am deadline for coverage? The clock is ticking....

What a shitshow.

Posted 2015-01-16 04:53:39 by tedu Updated: 2015-01-16 04:53:39
Tagged: politics

Alpha House

As more or less direct competition for Netflix’s House of Cards, Amazon has Alpha House. It’s a comedy, but still manages to capture a lot of what’s wrong with modern politicking. Gary Trudeau’s involvement helps. It may even be a more accurate portrayal in some ways, because it’s not laser focused on power and corruption. The light hearted approach leaves room for some less diabolical absurdity.

There are some long running plot lines, but for the most part it’s much more episodic. Curiously it retains much of the TV format, including a title sequence introducing each character. It’s hard to imagine a viewer “tuning in” to the middle of the series and needing such an intro. All the episodes are available online; why would anyone not start with the first?

Amazon also had a one season run of a show called Betas which I thought was nearly as biting in its parody as Silicon Valley. Amazon may not yet be a first rate producer, but I’ve been impressed with the quality of what they’re turning out in tier two.

Posted 2014-11-26 03:23:12 by tedu Updated: 2014-11-26 03:23:12
Tagged: moviereview politics

least worst golden key

The Washington Post seems to have kicked a crypto hornets nest recently, with their suggestion that Apple (and other phone manufacturers, though I’ll stick with Apple as an example) should include a golden escrow key to allow law enforcement to decrypt suspects’ phones. This provoked the expected reaction from everybody who gets it that escrow is a terrible idea. Fair enough. But what’s the least worst escrow system we can devise?

Why would we want to design such a system, given that implementing a golden key would be a disaster? Well, disaster planning is hardly a new idea. Nor does coming up with a plan for the worst case scenario necessarily mean you want it to happen. Devising fire evacuation plans for an office building doesn’t make one an arsonist. I think having a good escrow plan ready is better than having none and being forced to design one on the spot. Even worst case scenarios can be subdivided into worst worst and least worst. And so, without advocating for a key escrow system, here’s how I might go about building one.

Continue reading least worst golden key...

Posted 2014-10-11 16:11:48 by tedu Updated: 2014-10-11 16:11:48
Tagged: politics security thoughts

opting in to airport scanners

For the past few years, I’d been opting out of the new airport scanners. Initially I had several reasons for this decision, but over time things changed, and after some reflection I realized the most compelling rationale I now had each time I opted out was “I opted out last time.”

Initially I was most concerned about the possible effects of the backscatter scanners. Maybe they’re safe or maybe not, but it seemed like an untested theory at the time. I’m comfortable with the millimeter wave scanners, but keeping track of what was what seemed like a chore. Easiest to say no to the entire category. Now that the backscatter machines are only installed wherever else, but not at airports, that’s one reason down.

Continue reading opting in to airport scanners...

Posted 2014-10-07 23:43:45 by tedu Updated: 2014-10-07 23:43:45
Tagged: politics rants

your data

A few thoughts reflecting on Sen. Wyden’s not quite proposal. As noted on HN there’s some question of exactly what your data is. Is it information you created (or otherwise control) or is it information about you? Is it an email you composed by typing on a keyboard or is it a log entry created by an autonomous system of whose existence you are unaware? The thornier issues of what the government can or cannot do are best deferred until this basic question is answered.

A complete your data test would likely involve several factors, much like the fair use test does, and be decided on a case by case basis. For starters, though, we can begin by asking one question. To what extent can you describe the data? The owner of some data is likely to be the party that can describe the data (and importantly, its format) most accurately and completely. This is the tried and true Lost and Found test. “Hey, I lost my iPod.” “Can you describe it?” If the hotel concierge has a green iPod, but I tell them I lost a black iPod, it’s probably not mine.

Continue reading your data...

Posted 2014-08-18 21:23:05 by tedu Updated: 2014-08-18 21:23:05
Tagged: politics software thoughts


Time had an article I liked about Kentucky’s healthcare exchange, Kynect. A similar piece with some of the highlights is in LA Times.

Mostly, I’m fascinated by McConnell’s attempts at threading the political needle now that people seem to like the law that he promised them they’d hate. “Hey, this law made us do something we never would have done, but now that we have and we like the result, that still doesn’t change anything. I’m always right.” Of course, voters seem equally confused about the name and nature of the law that was passed, so he still has some wiggle room.

Nothing new, people have always filtered reality through ideology, but in this case some of the facts are going to be hard for voters to ignore. Wonder how this will play out. In five years, will people be celebrating the (actually unchanged) healthcare law that “we should have had all along” after a few more rebranding exercises?

Tangential post on Bounded Rationality.

Posted 2014-08-11 02:29:52 by tedu Updated: 2014-08-11 02:29:52
Tagged: magreview politics

the wrong way to beg for money

Because it’s summer and therefore nice and warm (or terribly, impossibly warm) out, I go outside and walk around the city. Because it’s a city, that means people ask me for money. Sometimes it’s grizzled old men sitting on a stoop. Sometimes it’s chipper young people who jump in front of me. Guess which group this post is about.

It’s one thing (an annoying thing, but borderline acceptable) to stand in the middle of the sidewalk so that I have to go around instead of walking in a straight line. Watching me course correct, then side stepping to block my path and accost me is never acceptable. I deal with this by making a mental note of the responsible organization and then blacklisting them for one month. Penalties accrue. This summer’s front runner appears to be Planned Parenthood, though it will be some time before they overtake the all time record holder. Two summers ago the ACLU accosted me more than once per day on average, earning them an effective lifetime ban.

The stupid part is I’m generally in agreement with these organizations, disagreeing more in degree than kind. The problem seems to be that unlike the local neighborhood homeless beggars, the political beggars are shipped in from elsewhere. I imagine the college job fair pitch goes something like “travel the country and harass strangers with like minded hotties”. The result is that it’s a new beggar every day with no recollection of the previous dozen encounters. Even the duck tour people learn to recognize me as a resident and leave me alone. (Presumably the political beggars set up shop all summer long to get in on the tourist trade, but since the duck tour peddlers have claimed all the good corners, they get pushed out to areas that are in fact mostly locals.)

Posted 2014-06-20 19:34:46 by tedu Updated: 2014-06-20 19:34:46
Tagged: business philly politics rants

catastrophic weather movie alert

Went to a movie this afternoon because it was raining. Because it was raining, the government issued a puddles of unusual depth alert, causing everybody’s phone to blow up mid movie, within the space of a few minutes. The weather catastrophe alert tone could have been a credible sound effect, coupled with some great positional surround sound, but all the lit up screens gave the trick away. Then it kept happening as the less important people were notified and started interrupting the movie. There’s always a few idiots who can’t turn their phone off, but the number of alerts received made it seem likely the alerts can override vibrate or even silent settings.

The good news is the alerts can be turned off (somewhere in phone settings) to avoid disturbance at the movies or elsewhere. I did so last summer after noticing alerts happen whenever it rains.

The movie was Edge of Tomorrow. I liked it. Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers.

Amber Alert update: Amber Alert worked well. Apparently, their definition of success was waking people up at 4am, since there’s no mention of how the alert influenced the outcome of the children, which is how I would determine if it worked well or not.

Posted 2014-06-10 23:08:33 by tedu Updated: 2014-08-08 19:21:34
Tagged: gadget philly politics rant

snowden and putin have a chat

“Snowden had a fall back question: “Can it be conclusively proven that you’re not the greatest leader in human history?”” - steven_metz

“Told Snowden Russia does NOT collect data of millions of citizens. Instead we collect the actual citizens. In camps. Long as they can work.” - ViktorInEnglish

“I think the keyword there is “uncontrolled”. It’s totally controlled. They target everyone individually. It’s not “mass”” - thegrugq

Posted 2014-04-17 18:48:24 by tedu Updated: 2014-10-03 18:30:33
Tagged: politics quote

please do not poke the bears

“Instead, he seems to have seized an opportunity to poke a giant bear with a stick. The bear then ate him and his users.” - tptacek

Posted 2014-04-17 04:59:25 by tedu Updated: 2014-10-03 18:29:00
Tagged: politics quote

are you now or have you ever been a homophobe?

It’s not surprising, but still disappointing, to learn that Brendan Eich was essentially dismissed as Mozilla CEO.

Whatever his personal views are, this was a great opportunity for Eich to prove that one’s personal and professional lives could be kept separate. That’s the kind of world I’d like to live in, a world where it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as it doesn’t affect your job performance. Instead, we’ve proven the opposite. If your activities outside of work don’t conform, out you go.

Eich would have been subject to serious scrutiny. Often people even overcompensate to prove they’re unbiased (though it’s hard to imagine what overcompensation would be in this case). But he was never given the chance. Now he’ll go back to whatever he was working on before, maybe making a javascript engine that doesn’t run gay javascript, but without as much public oversight.

Continue reading are you now or have you ever been a homophobe?...

Posted 2014-04-04 02:29:13 by tedu Updated: 2014-04-20 16:58:07
Tagged: politics thoughts