Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sinking Floatopia Is Not the Solution

Photo courtesy of San Diego Entertainer Magazine
Funny things happen when the government tries to curtail liberty—people find ways to get around those restrictions.

San Diego's wrong-headed ban on alcohol at city beaches provides a classic example. Party goers keep discovering creative new means of skirting the ban, each more troubling to the City than the last.

It all started with a beach brawl involving about 70 drunken idiots during Labor Day 2007. This sparked major outrage, and San Diego voters in 2008 chose to permanently ban alcohol consumption along city beaches.

Of course, the City and the voters had the option of increasing punishments for being drunk in public or beach fighting, or even banning alcohol only on holiday weekends when the large crowds—consisting largely of non-San Diegans—reach critical mass.

But, no. The knee-jerk reaction is to ban the substance, rather than its abuser. Forget all the people out there (about 99.9 percent of us) who manage to consume alcohol without starting a riot. And forget that the trouble makers will inevitably find ways to drink on the beach anyway, while the rest of us sip Capri Sun.

In the meantime, many of the ban's supporters are happily sipping Kool-Aid in the comfort of their homes, assuring themselves that they've done right by the attendees they don't know of a beach they never visit.

Well, San Diegans predictably rebelled by starting Floatopia parties, where literally hundreds of revelers float along Mission Bay and drink all the alcohol they want. After all, the ban only extended to the beach itself—it mentioned nothing about the water!

Of course, boozing on a small float surrounded by hundreds of revelers really isn't the brightest idea—it's a good way to drown. Lifeguards were forced to rescue dozens of drunk idiots. So, the City Council recently reacted by sinking Floatopia:
The council voted unanimously Monday to extend the beach alcohol ban off the shoreline for bathers — almost everyone who is not in a kayak or boat — effectively ending the floating parties where mostly college-aged revelers drink in inner tubes or on other inflatable devices.
Well, that will show them! Why, the only way those darn kids can party on the beach is by renting kayaks! Wait...

Kayaks, that can easily capsize. That are propelled by long, heavy plastic paddles. Operated by people who are heavily drinking. Potentially in very close proximity to one another.

So, in other words, we've gone from allowing people to drink on the beach, to moving the drinking onto inner tubes, and now restricting drinking to kayaks. Is it just me, or does each "solution" cause more danger than the original problem? People are still finding ways to drink at the beach, and will continue to do so no matter what the City throws their way.

They will have their booze; the law only punishes those who want cold a beer or two on a hot day at the beach.

And me? Heck, I'm not even a beach goer; I just want to have the right to responsibly drink on the beach if I so choose, just as I want other adults to have that right.

Can't we just live our lives, and punish legitimate offenders?

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Masthead

The Audacity of Reason is sporting a sleek new masthead, courtesy of my prodigious friend Magie Brennan. Please take some time to view her portfolio at She does very good work, and is always accepting new clients!

Here is a really cool sample from her site:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

iOS 4 Slows Down the iPhone 3G

iOS 4 — the new iPhone operating system — is wreaking havoc upon the iPhone 3G by all accounts (including my personal experience).

It immediately became clear to me after upgrading to the new OS that it was really slowing down my iPhone 3G. I've taken good care of my second-generation iPhone, and it performed very well until I installed the free iOS 4 upgrade.

Everything from my Maps app to text messaging functioned far more slowly. This lag is underscored by the sudden delay of several seconds between pressing the "Sleep" button and hearing that reliable clicking noise. iOS 4 is apparently so bad that my iPhone 3G can't even sleep well!

Unsurprisingly, other 3G owners share my dissatisfaction. This has been reported by a score of sources, such as Product Reviews. Fortunately, AppleToolbox has posted the following methods for improving performance:

Perform a “hard reset.” Hold down the sleep/wake and home buttons simultaneously for roughly 15-20 seconds, until the screen powers off then an Apple logo appears, which signifies a reboot. Some users have (oddly enough) reported that performing two hard resets resolves the slowness issue.

Restore, but not from backup. It appears that bad holdover data from iPhone backups can cause performance problems. Restoring as a new phone will delete contacts and other data, but may resolve this issue.

To do so, connect your iPhone or iPod touch to your computer, click “Restore” in iTunes, then choose “setup as new phone.”

Free up space. Make sure that your iPhone has at least 10% of its available memory free. OS X-based systems, such as iOS 4.0, may require some free space to operate properly.

Close open Safari windows. One iOS application that consumes memory in the background is Safari. Close all unused windows in the application by pressing the page switch button in the lower right portion of the screen then clicking the X at the top left of each page. See this page for screenshots.

These methods do improve performance, but they are simply quick fixes that do not restore the iPhone to its pre-upgrade performance level, nor do they change the bad taste left in loyal Apple customers' mouths.

If customer satisfaction is as crucial as Apple CEO Steve Jobs trumpeted during his iPhone 4 press conference, then I certainly hope Apple is working on fixing this most regrettable problem.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No "Change" Toward Dissenting Voices

President Obama's deliberate exclusion of the CEOs of JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs from the Dodd-Frank Act signing ceremony further proves that Obama was about as serious about "change" as Bush was about being "a uniter, not a divider."

"Change" was President Obama's campaign centerpiece. Changing the political culture by eliminating Washington's cynical business practices. Adding transparency to government. Getting rid of the dirty tricks, pay-offs, and pay-backs.

Well, the administration invited to the ceremony the bank CEOs who have been the "most sycophantic" while "rebuking" those who "don’t instantly agree that every policy coming out of the Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill is the most brilliant idea ever," according to anonymous Wall Street executives.

How fitting, then, that Citi and Bank of America, essentially wards of the state, served as the perfect yes-men, and were then invited to the signing ceremony. Sort of like tossing a treat to an obedient lap dog, isn't it?

Forget that Morgan and Goldman are two of the largest firms on Wall Street. Forget, even, that Goldman's recent SEC flogging provides a colorable excuse for the administration to deny its invitation.

The bottom line, as CNBC reports, is that the administration is retaliating against Morgan and Goldman:

JP Morgan Chase was very active in the efforts to shape the legislation. Its chief, Dimon, publicly critiqued aspects of the bill. Goldman Sachs was less active and prominent but still played a role in lobbying lawmakers to have some aspects of the bill changed.

Bear in mind that Obama was not striking against Republican ideologues. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon is a long-standing Democratic donor and was once referred to as "Obama's favorite banker." Goldman was Obama's second-largest donor.

But, cross the administration, and you will feel its wrath.

This "change" sure sounds like business as usual.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Phonebook Waste

I'm no environmentalist, but the printing and distribution of all these phone books seems like a tremendous waste of resources.

I'd guess that we're looking at about 350 phone books (split between white and yellow pages) placed alongside the mailboxes in my building.

A building consisting of about 200 apartments' worth of predominantly young, professional residents. I can probably count the number of residents over 40 on one hand.

When was the last time anyone under 40 used a phone book? The Internet is a far more useful database for finding business phone numbers.

And what of residential phone numbers? Well, if I didn't give you my phone number, and if you don't know how to reach me via e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, foursquare, or MySpace, then you probably don't have much business calling me!

You really don't have to be an environmentalist to object to this waste. Paper may figuratively grow on trees, but trees don't grow back overnight. I would much rather leave all that timber intact for use in other products, to drive down the cost of timber, or just for the sake of having a few extra trees lying around.

Similarly, the resources used to pay people to print and distribute these phone books—among any number of collateral tasks—could be used to pay people for things we would rather have.

This also doesn't mean we need the government to force the telephone company to stop printing all these phone books. Instead, we need to shout to the phone companies, "HEY, DUMMIES! We don't use your crummy phone books, so stop printing so many of them!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Partisan Hackery at the NAACP

The NAACP's recent denouncement of alleged racism within the tea party movement reeks of dirty tricks and shallow race baiting.

The resolution's premises are absurd because the tea party movement already opposes racism, and tea party leaders have already denounced the isolated incidents that purportedly prompted the resolution.

First, there is no need for the tea party movement to denounce something it already opposes. It draws much of its ideological inspiration from the principles of natural law enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, including that all men are created equal—the very antithesis of racism.

The NAACP, on the other hand, bases its case on isolated, anecdotal evidence. But, as it turns out, tea party leaders have already denounced such misbehavior within their ranks!

So, what's the NAACP's real goal? Simple: a political cheap shot during an election year.

The resolution has drummed up slanted headlines like "NAACP Says Tea Party Tolerates Racism" (CBS) and "NAACP accuses tea party of tolerating bigotry" (AP). A misleading frontpage headline is worth a thousand backpage retractions.

Fortunately, this cheap trick is backfiring on the NAACP. Haphazardly decreeing opposing voices as racist is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and the American people have rejected this kind of race baiting for years.

That's probably why Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are trying to downplay the resolution.

This is a pretty revolting development, since the NAACP was so instrumental during the civil rights movement. Hopefully the backlash will convince its leadership to focus on its mission of strengthening the black community, and shy away from partisan adventurism.