Filed Under (Politics, Stuff) by Sean on November 3rd, 2010 at 7:05 pm

How have people come to be taken in by The Phenomenon of Man? We must not underestimate the size of the market for works of this kind, for philosophy-fiction. Just as compulsory primary education created a market catered for by cheap dailies and weeklies, so the spread of secondary and latterly tertiary education has created a large population of people, often with well-developed literary and scholarly tastes, who have been educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought.

- Sir Peter Medawar

Richard Dawkins’ latest book, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, mentions Peter Medawar’s legendary review of The Phenomenon of Man with alacrity in detailing how otherwise fairly educated people use farcical logic like, “If chimps evolved into us, how come there are chimps still around?”

Alas, Medawar’s hypothesis seems to be as true today as then, and it’s getting worse (and is pervasive in politics, as well). To paraphrase a statement Dawkins made during his last Houston stop with the Progressive Forum a few weeks ago, “It’s truly astounding how otherwise intelligent, rational people who go about their daily life, balancing their checkbook and the like, cease to exercise any critical thinking about the greatest questions . . . it’s a tragedy, really . . . it seems, particularly in the U.S., that about 40% of the population is carrying along the other 60% in moving humanity forward.” Or in light of the current political season, perhaps it’s just shy of 47%.

Sir Peter Medawar (February 28, 1915 – October 2, 1987) was  a British zoologist received the Nobel Price in Physiology for his work on the human immune system and graft rejection. His discovery of acquired immune tolerance helped make organ transplants possible.

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Filed Under (Android, Google, Technology) by Sean on September 12th, 2010 at 8:26 pm

This is my first in a series of posts having to do with everything Google. From Google Apps to Android, I’m going to publish a series of posts detailing how to accomplish various tasks and workaround various bugs features after trial and error. I hope to evolve this series into something even more substantive, but you have to start somewhere. This post is a quick and easy beginning to help those still running early versions of Android (through Donut, otherwise known as 1.6), plagued by a particularly annoying bug.

Though I haven’t quite completely determined the circumstances under which this bug rears its head, it is evidenced by emails you send out using the GMail application on an Android phone stuck in the Outbox with “Sending . . .” but they never actually send. If it was a newly composed email, the solution was rather simple in that all you had to do was display the email, edit it and click the Send button again. Things are a little trickier with emails that are replying to a thread, however.

Rather than bore you with all the various things that didn’t work, allow me to jump straight to the punchline. Should you see such a message as a reply to an existing thread stuck in your outbox, here’s what you do: first, open up the offending thread. This can be either from the Outbox or whatever folder label the thread is under. Then, reply to one of the emails in the thread. It can be any email besides the Sending . . . email itself (you can’t open that one anyway). After you click Reply and you see the Compose Mail screen, click the Save as draft button. Then, go back to the Inbox by whatever means you choose (e.g., back button). Then, bring up the Drafts folder by selecting the Menu key and choosing View Labels and choosing Drafts. Open up the email thread you were just working on. You’ll note that at this point you’re actually editing the content of the original email that was stuck in the Outbox! Edit it as you see fit and click Send. Voila! If it gets stuck in the Outbox again, you can repeat this process as often as you like. In some extreme cases where you have to go perform this process via more than one iteration, you may have some stale empty Draft emails in the thread you can discard at a later time.

Look for my next Google post on how to share your GMail or Google Apps Calendar so the person with whom you’re sharing has complete administrative privileges over it.

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Filed Under (Life, Stuff) by Sean on April 13th, 2010 at 4:03 pm

This is a story I’m sure you’ve read before. The old Mayonnaise Jar, Golf Balls and Two Beers. Maudlin? Yes. Glurge? You bet your life. Deep philosophy? Not so much. Not exactly the brightest students, either, I suppose. However, seeing as I’ve been going through a shit-ton of crap lately, with the loss of my oldest brother providing the exclamation point, I thought this worthwhile to post. There are versions that use coffee instead. The fact that it uses beer to tell a maxim makes it compulsory.

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two beers .

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was..

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents.. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf ball first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’

The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.’

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Filed Under (Life) by Sean on December 31st, 2009 at 9:12 pm

So, the first decade of the new century/millennium is finally coming to a close. And it’s none too soon for this author. There have been some positive moments, plenty of new lessons learned, old lessons reinforced, but in the end I think it’s safe to say this decade has ended on a much lower note than it began.

To recap some points I mentioned on Twitter using the #10yearsago hashtag: 10 years ago, I had sold my first technology business, was preparing for the successor company to go public, was wearing more of the venture investor cap investing in several promising start-ups, raising capital for a new start-up I co-founded, was traveling heavily and entering a period of semi-retirement with plenty of toys and money falling from trees. Now I’m just suffering a horrible hangover from the aftermath of all the “irrational exuberance” of the late 90′s. But what a decade it had been. The naughts were not so kind to me. I don’t hold anyone or anything at fault for this, though close-to-home terrorism mashed up with a renaissance of xenophobic, narrow-minded politics certainly didn’t vibe with me. Add some business failures (no fault of the businesses themselves but more of the common threads that seemed to string them all together; that is a subject for another blog post entirely or perhaps a book/memoir) to the mix and I’m glad to see it end. However, it’s always been my M.O. to persevere and never have any regrets. As my mother always tells me, “Sean, never, ever lose your edge.” I think my edge substantially dulled during the naughts. It’s time to get the sharpener out, folks.

There were lots of positives that happened during the decade that I would be remiss to omit. I kind of went into hiding during the last decade. Twitter, in many ways, brought me back into the mainstream. Even though he doesn’t know it yet, Ed Schipul is someone partially responsible for that. I thought Twitter was a ridiculous waste of time at first. Somewhere about February 2008, I decided to hop online (a couple of months after I launched this blog) and give it another go. One of the very first people I looked up from my prior technology days (Ed was one of my earlier customers of my technology company in the 90′s) was Ed. I read through his tweets and decided what the hell. So I created an account and followed him. He followed me back and tweeted something about our distant past, which garnered many followers. From there I searched for other colleagues and friends from the past and struck up many conversations. I had all but hung up my hat as a technology entrepreneur, but here I was reemerging into the Houston technology scene once again. It was therapeutic, to be sure. I have made tons and tons of friends in real life through the virtual connections forged through Twitter, Facebook, Brightkite and other social media platforms. I was pretty much the first person to dive into the social media bandwagon among my existing real life friends and served as the catalyst to get them all on board as well, strengthening ties with them in the process. As much as I would love to list all the new friends I’ve made, it would be too exhaustive a list as there are too many to mention. You know who you are. I adore each and every one of you and only hope to know each of you better as the teens unfold.

I will eventually write a series of blog posts/memoirs about my various misgivings and learning experiences of the last 10 years; they could fill a book books. For now, however, I want to simply bid the naughts adieu. I am very hopeful about the twenty-teens and what they will bring. I am reassembling the fragments of my life and forging ahead full steam ahead. I won’t bore you with my new decade resolutions here, but I have many I believe will result in a better human being. I can only hope I’ll enjoy a similar level of success and positive impact on others as I did 10 years ago. Actually, screw that sentiment. I am going to amp it up 100 times this time around.

2010, bring it on!

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Filed Under (Internet, Rants, Social Media) by Sean on July 23rd, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I am so sick and tired of’s bullshit I decided to write a quick blog post about it. My biggest gripe about it is the fact that you cannot read your own guest book that others sign without paying for a Gold membership. This flies smack-dab in the face of what social networks are all about. Having grown weary of this charade after not being able to read several guestbook entries compounded by the spam I’ve received from classmates telling me someone has left a note and that I have to pay to retrieve it, I decided to update my profile page. I assumed that I could provide at least a modicum of contact information, such as a blog link, or even links to other social network profile pages. Nowhere is there a predetermined place on your profile where you can enter such contact information. I decided instead to create an entry on my “Bulletin Board” (equivalent I suppose to Facebook’s Wall).  Here’s what I wrote:

Find me on facebook or my blog. I do not check since they want you to pay in order to read what people have written you. Find me on Facebook at or my blog at Thanks for stopping by!

Immediately after submitting the bulletin board post, the site displayed a notice that my post had been hidden because I included website addresses, personal contact info or innapropriate language. So, I obfuscated the website addresses using the typical facebook dot com slash maslowbeer scheme. Seems classmate’s programmers have been very busy in detecting these schemes due to all the incredibly harmful content that has been posted such as links to facebook, because it detected these as links as well. The notice also told me that was trying to create something that was “friendly for everyone.” Right.  Included was a link for me to submit the post for manual review by their “Content Policy Team” with a field for me to enter additional comments. So I took advantage of that and sent them this comment:

Seriously – every social network allows you to include contact information so people can find you and learn more about you. That’s the whole point of social networking. But, you choose instead to extort money from people to read what people have sent you, and add insult to injury by not allowing me to put up links to my profile on other networks or my personal blog. Your reasoning “to make classmates friendly for everyone” is complete and utter bullshit. I hope you guys get with the program. There’s a reason facebook is worth several billion dollars as a free site and your chicken-shit site isn’t. Finis.

It should be entertaining to see what their Content Policy Politburo has to say in response. I will post it here when I receive it!

Does everyone else hate as much as me? Share your story in the comments below!

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Filed Under (Geekstuff, Stuff, Technology) by Sean on June 14th, 2009 at 7:54 pm

As many of you may already know, I’m a beneficiary of Ford’s recent aggressive social media public relations efforts. I was initially contacted by a social media consultancy out of Canada, retained by Ford, through my blog early last month. My first reaction was one of disbelief, thinking this had to be some sort of grand social engineering phishing experiment. With mild trepidation, I responded with an indication if interest. My choices were the Ford Escape and the Lincoln MKS. Being a huge fan of SUVs, I opted for the 2009 Lincoln MKS (plus, I get to experience my brother’s Escape Hybrid every time I visit Florida). I was supposed to get the 2010 version of the MKS, which is all-wheel drive and sports a twin-turbocharged 355 horsepower, 350 lb-ft torque V6, but a shortage of media fleet cars made this impossible. My 2009 version sports a 273 horsepower, normally-aspirated V6 instead. In any case, I’ve been promised by Ford that they will get me a 2010 to drive as soon as one is available. They’ve also promised to get me the new 2011 Ford Fiesta to drive as well!

The Lincoln MKS

Many of you who haven’t known me that long may not know I’ve always been a huge car enthusiast (though it has waned a bit over the years and my current Ford Taurus would certainly give you no indication). I started as a young teenager by going out on a Saturday with my father and test driving just about everything we could get our hands on – sports sedans, luxury autos, exotics, the works. As a card carrying member of the SCCA, I used to participate in various auto sporting events as well. Cars I’ve owned over the years have run the gamut: a VW, a BMW, 2 Mercedes, 5 Hondas, a Porsche, and a Ford.

Herein I will outline some initial impressions of the Lincoln MKS after having it for a few days. Over that time, I’ve managed to spend hours navigating big city traffic, taking a road trip and running high speed laps around the Nuremberg town. I’ve also satiated my inner geek (ok, maybe outer geek) by diving into the Microsoft Sync platform equipped in this car. This post will discuss my initial impressions of Sync; future posts will go into driving impressions and other aspects of the MKS.

Before I do that, however, I will sum up my reactions to the car as pros and cons:


  • snappy performance for the size/class of car
  • good balance of ride firmness; corners and tracks well but doesn’t rattle your spine when driving over potholes and railroad tracks
  • good transmission; really responsive at down-shifting quickly. Manual mode available as well. Auto mode good at down-shifting before corners and engine braking when slowing down – something I’ve never seen in an American car. It seems engineers are doing their homework in studying German sports sedans!
  • decent ergonomics; comfortable and usable interior; sporty seats are suitable for long cross-country trips
  • seamless bluetooth integration with your phone and media device (could be the same device or two separate devices)
  • GPS NAV with real-time traffic, weather and other helpful travel information (e.g., gas prices)
  • QUIET. This car is almost devoid of wind noise even at 90+ mph
  • Air. Conditioned. Seats. It’s like lying down on a huge bag of ice. Gone are the sweaty backs Houston summers made famous.
  • SYNC system receives software upgrades and updates through an in-car USB interface where you can download the update on your computer to a USB drive (or your smart phone’s storage) and initiating the upgrade while connected to the car


  • though the car sports very nice interior trim, the excessive amount of “shiny chromeplastic” is a little off-putting. The simulated brushed metal helps to counter that, however.
  • center console cup holders can’t accommodate two grande coffees (seems really bizarre the Germans have this figured out while the guys that invented the cup holders don’t!). See picture below.
  • beltline and cowl are really high; you can’t even comfortably rest your arm on the windowsill it’s so high. Obviously this is styling driven and at least there is a rear camera to assist you while you’re backing up since you can’t see shit out the rear window
  • I can’t use certain features of the NAV while driving (yes I know it’s an insurance thing or whatever, but it’s completely silly and promotes even worse behavior for reasons I’ll give below)
  • NAV system doesn’t have proper ICAO or FAA airport codes to use as destination or waypoint; I tried to use KGLS as the destination but it only knew “Scholes Galveston Airport” or selecting Airport point of interest

Of course, I love gadgets and toys. Consequently, I’m always interested in the latest state of automotive technology. Growing up, I benefited from my father being a huge gadget and car freak as well. I’m pretty sure he got the first car on Earth with built in NAV. I have certainly seen how not to implement car gadgetry. In-car technology has developed much of the way consumer electronics has: no standards, no interoperability, black-box proprietary systems and the like. Computer and technology companies have done most of the heavy lifting in changing the status quo in the consumer electronics industry, e.g., Apple. Now they’re attempting the same in the automotive space. I think that Sync is as close as I’ve seen to how it should be done (on another note, technologies based on other platforms such as Google’s Android could be coming to a car near you soon).

The car was delivered to my office by Becky, a super friendly Communications and Media Fleet Manager from Ford. She handed me the keys and said, “Enjoy! We look forward to reading what you have to say!” The first thing I did after parking it in my office parking garage downtown was pair up my G1 via bluetooth. I figured if I could make hands free phone calls and listen to my media library through the car’s audio system within a couple of minutes without opening a manual, that would be a good sign of things to come. That’s just what happened. I chose Phone from the console, selected the Add Devices button from the bright color touch screen, and a woman with what seemed like a slightly British accent instructed me to enter the PIN displayed on the screen when prompted by my phone when pairing with SYNC. Voila! The screen displayed a message asking me if I wanted my phonebook and call history to be loaded. I selected Yes. Not content to stop there, I then chose the Media button on the console. Within about 3 seconds the audio system started playing the current playlist on my G1. Sweet. While delighting in all this, the phone rang. On the color touch screen, the Caller ID and phone book entry of the caller is displayed along with a choice to answer or deny the call. The weird thing about this was it was my phone’s ring tone playing in stereo on top of the slightly-reduced-in-volume music through the stereo. It was a business call, so I answered and carried on the discussion for a few minutes before deciding I needed to continue this conversation on the way to my desk. I turned the key off, opened the door, and the call seamlessly transferred to my handset without the slightest hiccup. Too cool. In a similar vein, if I’m rocking out to some streaming music through my phone through bluetooth and turn off the car, remove the key and open the door, the phone automatically pauses the media stream. When you get back in the car and start it, the music automatically resumes once the bluetooth connection is reestablished. Similarly, if you’re talking on your handset and get in and start the car, the phone conversation seamlessly transitions to hands-free mid sentence without hesitation. You have the option to choose privacy mode where the phone call continues on your handset. Someone really paid attention to usability when designing this system.

The GPS-based NAV is one of the best I’ve seen. Adding to its touch-screen ease of use is the fact that it gets real time traffic information via Sirius satellite, even if you don’t pay for a Sirius subscription (Ford apparently hadn’t paid for it in this car, which I thought was somewhat puzzling). The first thing you do is choose a destination by pushing the DEST button on the dashboard and selecting the destination through a variety of methods (nearest points of interest, street address, yellow page categories, phone book) or selecting the voice command button on the steering wheel and using voice commands to tell the system where you would like to go (and you don’t even need to train the system for your voice!). You then choose the shortest or fastest route and you’re on your way. The system provides you with turn-by-turn directions along with graphical depictions of each turn on the display. For upcoming turns, the screen is split with a map on the left and the detailed turn depicted on the right (see the photos below for an example). Additionally, it counts down the distance to the next turn or waypoint and displays a progress timer bar to help you determine your arrival to the next instruction. The bottom of the display shows your current location and speed limit, if available. If an accident or other incident happens along your route, a notice is displayed on the screen where you can review details  of it and choose an option to avoid at which point it accordingly reroutes you. One of the exercises I like to do is test out how resilient a NAV system is when you inadvertently (or purposely) miss a turn. Some of them incessantly complain and ask you to make a U-turn to get back on track. The system in the Lincoln, however, doesn’t miss a beat. Virtually the instant after you miss a turn instruction, it recalculates the route such that you can continue your general direction of travel. It’s so seamless that if you blinked you may have missed that anything happened at all. Information available at your fingertips also includes the weather (forecast, satellite images) and gasoline prices at nearby gas stations (see photos below).

There were a few hiccups in the system. Every now and again my phone would become “un-paired” or stop playing audio. Sometimes the device got out of sync where I would be listening to audio on my phone through  wired ear buds, and upon starting the car the phone would pair and stop the stream; I would have to start it up again manually (apparently the command to autoplay/autostop is a change of state and not discreet play/stop commands). It is important to note that you must have an A2DP capable media device in order to stream bluetooth audio through the audio system. If your device isn’t capable, you won’t be able to pair it at all as an audio device (this doesn’t impact the phone pairing, however). I learned this the hard way after I replaced my G1 under warranty that had an older version of the OS before they added AD2P extensions. There is a mini-phono jack if you want to connect an older iPod or mp3 player. My main complaint is that you cannot browse the phonebook while the car is moving over 15 mph or so, which seems silly since that requires you to pick up your phone an lookdown and scroll through its phonebook instead (yes I know you shouldn’t do either). At least you can use voice commands to make calls.

Microsoft SYNC definitely adds huge value to the MKS. Ford and Microsoft mention in some of their public relations material that SYNC is increasingly becoming a major contributing factor in the car purchasing decision process. I don’t quite know how exclusive the arrangement is between Microsoft and Ford, but I could see how SYNC would tip your decision towards a Ford or Lincoln when comparing makes of cars. It will be exciting to see what other manufacturers do in adopting future competing systems as well as what those competing systems will look like. The connected automobile is here and here to stay. After my experience with this car, I can see where having the capabilities SYNC provides makes your life easier and would be a driver in choosing a particular car over another. In today’s hyper-connected world where your information is living in the cloud and accessible through your smart phone, this Lincoln is not only a pleasure to drive but can help keep your connected world, dare I say it, in sync.

That’s it for the first installment! Look for my driving impressions coming soon. Check out some of the pictures below.

Lincoln MKS

NAV System

Travel Information

Cup Holders


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Filed Under (Business, Stuff) by Sean on March 20th, 2009 at 3:33 pm

People who know me know that I often rag on Starbucks, mainly about their coffee. They over-roast the beans. They scald the milk horrendously in lattes, macchiatos and cappuccinos. You can have any coffee you like at a store, so long as it’s Pike Place. The one thing they do get right, however, is customer service.

Another thing I’m known for is collecting used coffee cups on my desk (or any surface, for that matter). When I went into the office earlier, I decided to pick up one of my collection of Starbucks tumblers and clean it out to take with me. Upon close inspection, I noticed that one particular model (below) was damaged. This particular model has a design flaw; there is no release valve or any way for expanded air to escape. This plagued me all the time with this model since every time I had hot coffee in it with the lever moved to the closed position, I would get coffee splashed all over me everytime I opened the lever to take a sip. In any case, I had presumably left the lid closed, since I noticed that sufficient pressure had built up inside it to actually break the internal arm which connected the rubber gasket seal with the switch on top. Thus it was impossible to close.

Old Starbucks Tumbler

I walked into my neighborhood starbucks and showed them what happened. It’s important to note this was a tumbler I probably paid about $12 for 2-3 years ago. The employee behind the register did not hesitate and told me to grab any replacement tumbler off the shelf to replace it at no cost. “Really?” “Any tumbler. I like the steel ones with the built in French press, ” he responded. So I picked up my brand new $23 plus tax solo stainless steel press pot (picture below) and went on my merry way. He even filled it up with coffee at no charge.

Fancy new Solo Press Pot

My friends know that I go to Catalina Coffee in Houston if I want a good cup of coffee (or Caffe Medici in Austin, where I frequented while attending South by Southwest). But there is a lot to be said about this level of standing behind a product, no questions asked. This wasn’t the first time, either. Years ago, I purchased my parents a Starbucks Barista Aroma automatic coffee maker for Christmas. After 2+ years of nonstop use, it just stopped working one day. My father took it into his nearest Starbucks, and even though it was well out of warranty, received the same treatment as me. This was a $200 coffee maker to boot. It is good to know that even a multi-billion dollar corporation empowers its employees to give you mom-and-pop shop level service every now and again.

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Filed Under (Politics, Rants) by Sean on February 9th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

I felt it important to write this quick post about what I believe it really means to be Liberal. I always find it amusing that the people who use the label pejoratively seem to be somehow divinely knowledgeable about its definition. They like to use definitions that frame it as an ideology that is counter to their own. They use it to be divisive. I’m here to say they’re dead wrong.

Let’s start with the dictionary definition:

lib·er·al (lÄ­b’É™r-É™l, lÄ­b’rÉ™l)  adj.

    1. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
    2. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
    3. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
    4. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.
    5. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.
    6. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes.
    7. Archaic Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman.
    8. Obsolete Morally unrestrained; licentious.
    1. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.
    2. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes.
    3. Archaic Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman.
    4. Obsolete Morally unrestrained; licentious.
  1. Not strict or literal; loose or approximate: a liberal translation.
  2. Of, relating to, or based on the traditional arts and sciences of a college or university curriculum: a liberal education.
    1. Archaic Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman.
    2. Obsolete Morally unrestrained; licentious.
  1. A person with liberal ideas or opinions.
  2. Liberal A member of a Liberal political party.

[Middle English, generous, from Old French, from Latin līberālis, from līber, free; see leudh- in Indo-European roots.]
lib’er·al·ly adv., lib’er·al·ness n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Read it over. Carefully. Especially read the first definition. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

Read it again. THAT is what being liberal is all about. It is ruthlessly independent. Not trying to apply the same policies and ideas to differing situations and different contexts. Different realities require different approaches.  This is the core of being liberal. Being liberal is not about “big government” or “welfare society” or anything like that. It is not about confusing correlation with causation. It is not about using rhetoric and divisive labels to plant prejudicial narratives in people’s minds. After all, there is nothing inherently bad about big government any more than there is something inherently bad about a large gun; though, to be honest, I still don’t know what the hell big government means any way. To me it’s kind of like saying, “Big football is bad. Big companies are bad.” Uh, sure. It’s intellectually dishonest and lazy. It’s pandering. How easy it is to paint such a broad stroke and completely discount the human element within. How easy it is to ignore the complexities of reality, of systems, of chaos, and simply say it’s all bad because it’s easier that way. Instead, what being liberal is about is doing what works given the situation. It’s about critically thinking about issues in context, applying analysis and some semblance of scientific method where appropriate, and crafting policy to put action behind the hypotheses derived from those activities.

Dogma is this: you have a square peg. There may be a square hole, in which case you’re in good shape. You may have a round hole, in which case you still try to fit the square peg through it. In case that doesn’t work, you take some C4 and blow a big enough hole so you can insert the square peg. This epitomizes GOP thinking. It’s all about laissez faire, no government, no regulation, the market is divine arbiter of all things good, blah blah blah all the time, no matter what is happening in the world around them. Being liberal is to say, “Hey, we like the Friedman school of economics so long as it applies to the macroeconomic realities surrounding it.” BUT, when you have zero percent interest rates and economic stagnation and a domino effect of economic collapse going on, you dust off the book from the Keynes school and start applying the lessons learned there. It’s balanced. It’s not about big vs. small government or any of that, so much as conservatives love to play those frames over and over and over again. It’s about doing what’s required given the situation. Finis.

Tuam libera mentem.

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Filed Under (Aviation) by Sean on January 15th, 2009 at 5:13 pm

(UPDATED) An image of the flight path superimposed on Google Earth has been added. More coming soon!

Here is some initial information about the US Airways flight that crash landed in the Hudson river shortly after departing KLGA bound for Charlotte. I will be updating this post as more information comes in. It appears the cause of the emergency was bird strikes in both engines, causing complete engine flameout.

Here is a table giving coordinates of the aircraft, speed and altitude, and the ATC facility with which the crew was communicating. Remarkable. You do practice engine out procedures extensively and aircraft are designed to survive bird strikes; the pilot’s judgment was impeccable and critical to the passengers’ survival. Had he attempted to return to KLGA, it would have had disastrous consequences.

Time Position Ground
Altitude Facility
Eastern TZ Latitude Longitude kts Feet Location/Type
03:26PM 40.80 -73.87 151 1800 level New York TRACON
03:27PM 40.83 -73.87 174 2800 climbing New York TRACON
03:27PM 40.86 -73.88 194 3200 climbing New York Center
03:28PM 40.88 -73.90 202 2000 descending New York TRACON
03:28PM 40.86 -73.93 215 1600 descending New York Center
03:29PM 40.83 -73.95 194 1200 descending New York TRACON
03:29PM 40.82 -73.97 191 1300 climbing New York Center
03:30PM 40.78 -74.00 189 400 descending New York TRACON
03:31PM 40.75 -74.02 153 300 descending New York TRACON

Here is the flight data superimposed on Google Earth:

AWE1549 Flight Path

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Filed Under (Geekstuff, Internet, Social Media, Technology) by Sean on December 21st, 2008 at 4:11 pm

I wanted to post this brief update about a new feature I discovered recently by accident while testing Twitter clients for my Android-based G1 smart phone. “@Replies” on Twitter now picks up tweets that are addressed to multiple people in a chain. These replies also appear to follow the same rules I pointed out in my previous post about Twitter in how @Replies work (alas it still appears most people don’t understand these important points, however). For example, if you send a tweet as follows: “@bob @jane @jim @jesus @mary @joseph have a good holiday,” then each and every person in that chain of addressees will have the tweet appear on their @Replies page! Note, however, if you interrupt the chain in any way, it breaks this behavior, e.g., “@bob @jane and @jim are you coming to my party,” @jim in this case will not get the tweet on his @Replies page. As noted, the rules from my previous post apply. In my first example, even if @mary doesn’t follow the person who sent the tweet, she will still get it in her @Replies tab nevertheless. Clients that use the Twitter API to track @Replies also follow these rules, as I found my accident when testing nanoTweeter for my G1.


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