Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Skyler Hate

A great line characterizing the position that Skyler is in. 
If you’ve ever seen Breaking Bad, you will know that Skyler White does not back down easily. She’s not the 1950’s stereotypical housewife that, apparently, many people would be happier to see her portrayed as.

In this recent Op-ed, Anna Gunn, the actress playing Skyler White gives her perspective on the way people treat the character that she plays. Last summer she did a rolling stone interview with nearly the same message, and she hasn't seen anything that's changed her mind on the subject.

But I finally realized that most people’s hatred of Skyler had little to do with me and a lot to do with their own perception of women and wives. Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become a kind of Rorschach test for society, a measure of our attitudes toward gender.”

I agree with this point of view, especially after a quick google search of Skyler White, but I also think another factor in the motivation behind Skylar Hate is that Walter White inspires strange emotions in people. He was an innocent high school chemistry teacher when we first met him, and he’s turned into a monster over the seasons. Sometimes his actions even seem excusable, as he’s dealing with people that seem
much worse than he is.
I think a healthy portion of Skyler Hate comes into all this because people still like Walt and have cheered him through most of his crimes, even though he’s a gigantic criminal. Skyler is his biggest antagonist, and she can’t be defeated. There was Tuco & Gus, but they were both dealt with accordingly. Skyler is still standing and has been a thorn in Walt’s side ever since she found out what he’s been doing over the past year.

The Skyler Hate is without a doubt intensified by the fact that she is a woman, and she’s a strong one. It’s much easier for people to find things to be make fun of, like making bullying an obese person. It's definitely not okay by any measure.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Michael Grunwald gets himself in a bit of hot water

There was a bit of an interesting twitter uproar going through my timeline featuring a reporter Michael Grunwald, who is TIME magazine's senior national correspondent. His tweet is linked below:

I had to link to a screen cap of the now deleted tweet because, "it gives Assange supporters a nice safe persecution complex to hide in" in Mike's words. Killing someone who you disagree with isn't the problem here? Maybe he thought it was funny, but when other mainstream people didn't think it was funny (at least publicly) & there was an uproar from a lot of people on twitter, he backed down.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How will we deal with self-driving cars?

Google has been testing fully automated self-driving cars for at least a year now and they've driven a half million miles with the only accident being caused by a human driver. We've already seen the first stages of this automation happen with cars that apply brakes for you, mark lane systems, and use cameras that help the driver park. Electronic stablity control, which helps drivers regain control after a skid, have been shown to reduce fatal single-car crash by 50%.
Recently, Sergey Brin was quoted as saying that he can count on one hand the number of years it will be before ‘ordinary’ people will be able fully utilize this technology. Wired magazine claims that by 2040 a drivers license won't even be needed. What are the ramifications of this technological trend?

For one, it has serious implications for the economy in a couple of different areas. Many jobs will be lost, especially in truck driving. O
ther professions that will likely end up being replaced are bus drivers, deliverymen, and cab drivers. All of which are jobs that keep people out of poverty. According to the American Trucking Association there are 3.5 million drivers in the US right now. That’s quite a bit of people, who, in the foreseeable future won't have their jobs. Of course this won't happen at once, but over a relatively small period of time a lot of people will be pushed out of a job. This raises another question, how many jobs can potentially be replaced by technology.

Aside from articles on the internet, talk in silicon valley, and a few political circles I don’t think the people in charge are going to see this coming before it’s too late to deal with. Maybe I'm being cynical. What are we as a society going to do for those people? The likely answer is nothing and many will argue that it's not our responsibility and those people should have paid attention to the future of their careers. Nonetheless, the unemployment will hurt us as a whole. What I see happening is we'll shrug them off for as long as possible, until it's too hard to ignore. It's hard to predict the future, though. Will they go back to school? If you're reading this still; what do you think about the automation of our economy by robots? Do you think we'll be forced to adapt to a 21st century mindset? Could your job be replaced by a robot?

Friday, July 26, 2013

On the Road Again . . .On the Road Again!

The month at home was a mind-prison for a couple of different reasons. First, we always had a pot of coffee made and the caffeine really fucked up sleeping regularly. Go to bed at 6am, get woken up at 12pm by children with high-pitched voices and no volume control eating lunch. Video games didn't help with sleep either.
We spent a month there, which was much longer than expected. Didn't end up doing the things we planned and to say the least, it was messy. Always a learning experience though. Being back on the road is refreshing, rewarding, and painful. After having sat around for a month, carrying all the gear - along with the stocked up food has been a real workout. Need to remember to stretch in the mornings!

Arriving in Mountain View

We started at the Hacker Dojo, which had to be the coolest community center we’d ever seen, although we’re no experts. Even for a Sunday afternoon/night - there were probably 20 people doing work directly on their computers or building something involving a computer. We'll have to go back there on a weekday in the future and check out an event, maybe talk to some more people. It was a lot of fun playing ping pong and a game of pool. The best part was the anarchy. There was nobody who seemed to be ruling the place, as it was mostly a volunteer and clean up after yourself philosophy. On top of their #1 rule: Don’t be a dick. If only the rest of the world could run on this model.

The community center for all ages!

After the Hacker Dojo we walked through the lower-income part of Mountain View. Of course, near the freeway where the loud sounds of the passing cars was heard at full blast.There were lots of stock apartments, not exactly clean, and out of the way.  Classic. A few families looked to be doing normal activities, watching TV & BBQing. Should’ve had dinner and asked how different life in Mountain View was relative to Manteca.

Much lower quality than other houses in Mountain View
Ended up near the Ames NASA research center which we must check out during the day; the internet claims they give some pretty cool lectures on the Mars Curosity Rover. Went through some forest-y area & walked along the shoulder of freeway until we found the hiking trail we were searching for. Walked down the trail a bit and slept next to a creek. Oh - the stares from people when we awoke the next morning. They're priceless, should try to get pictures when that happens (it’s very hard. People hate being filmed while staring). Wonder what it is, is it they're not used to seeing someone sleep in that location? Is it the fact that we don't look like we should've been sleeping there because we didn’t look homeless? Maybe it’s none of the above. The long stares are still priceless.
Sleep spot on night #1. Great spot next to the river!

So Monday morning was the walk to Stanford. It was a gruelling seven and a half mile walk in the middle of the day, and we wanted to make it in only a few hours. This is where the sitting around for too long came as a kick in the ass. Heavy gear and walking on concrete do not mix well, especially with old Vans. Once again, always learning, hopefully won't do that again.

Stopped by Starbucks and picked up some fruit and bread at the grocery store. Only spent $5 on food for the day, which was nice. Napped in a park during the hottest part of the day, and finished our walk to the school by 5pm. For the next 4 hours, we set our big backpacks down & checked out some of the scenery. It felt really good to set the backpacks down, freedom at last! Surprisingly, there we quite a lot of people who were just visiting. We saw a group of 25-year old italians who were probably in California on Vacation. Another group that asked their picture to be taken didn't attend the university either. Maybe they were visiting from out of town, too. There’s probably 5-10 things to do on any given day for the public, not including special events.

Sitting in on classes did not happen, sadly. We didn’t feel like sticking around was one reason, and how seemingly isolated most people there were. Just didn’t really seem like the place for us. Most people were in business clothes & seemed a little like they were always working. Maybe this is one of the reasons younger tech employees don’t want to live in the silicon valley, and would rather be in San Francisco. We're somewhat sympathetic to this view. It just doesn't have the right 'feel'

  So yesterday, Wednesday the 24th, we walked all the way back from Palo Alto to Mountain View, a four and a half mile walk, because we needed a shower. So refreshing! Even if the boots & socks we were wearing stunk up the entire locker room. After the shower, we headed for a lunch break at Starbucks to recharge ourselves and the gear. After the break, we walked to the 101 on-ramp near the Google building and tried our hand at hitchhiking for the first time. Got a lot of funny stares, but after only about 30 minutes an employee, Raj, was on the way home to Oakland. We rode with him and learned a bit about Ghandi and the Salt Protests he led. After being dropped off in downtown Oakland, we stood at on-ramps in the streets of Oakland for a few hours. We gave up before getting a ride, because of the lack of daylight was approaching. We didn't spend a lot of time, but the location, busy traffic, and junctions didn't seem like a good place to hitch a ride. We didn't want to be in Oakland overnight, so we spent $6 (one of the only times we've paid for BART) to get to San Francisco so we could have a safe sleeping spot in a well-known location. We stopped by Denny's on the way to the Presidio for sleep. We ordered Pancakes and Coffee, the caffeine was nice, but the pancakes did not make our bodies feel very good. We left at around ten or eleven, and it felt good walking around the city at night again, we didn't even really notice how far we walked. Although it was a little risky sleeping in the Presidio, we got through without any problems. Today is the day we go to the Golden Gate with a nice "SEATTLE, ANYTHING HELPS" hitchhiking sign in hopes that somebody else is travelling that way. We think there is a high chance of success based on internet research. We'll keep updated!

Had to throw this in at end. Greatly timed picture results in Most Miserable Man of the Year Award. (It was just random timing, he wasn't really miserable at the time) :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Living on minimum wage is possible!..with 2 jobs.. maybe.

Check out the budget that Mcdonalds released. proving that it isn't exactly possible to live off of their salary. 

Funny thing about this is they were trying to do good. Showing their workers and the world that it IS possible not to be in complete poverty on a minimum wage job. 

Only bad thing - they forgot about gas for that car. Didn't notice that until the author pointed it out. On top of that, healthcare. $20/month? In what universe? Author of the article once again points out health care premiums, even at Mcdonalds equate to $14/week. 

Let's see, this also has nothing in here about school costs. So, if you want to go to college - ha ha, nope! The assumptions in embedding in this chart just cause one's head to shake.

Lastly, rent? $600 a month? Maybe in Stockton. . that would never work in San Francisco unless you're living with multiple roommates. 

Read the article for yourself and let us know if you find out anything else interesting about this story. Hopefully this will chart will start a 'conversation' in the media about low-pay & livability.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Berkeley Patients Group

Last time we were in Berkeley, we visited this dispensary because they had good prices and reviews claimed they were friendly, knowledgeable, etc. It was a great experience. Easy getting registered, and they had a set up which clearly showed they had been doing it for a long time. So this is a bit more personal than most events.

Just wanted to share a quote from the US attorney prosecuting the case.

""The marijuana industry has caused significant public health and safety problems in rural communities, urban centers and schools in the Northern District of California. Because some believe marijuana has medicinal value, however, we continue to take a measured approach and have only pursued asset forfeiture actions with respect to marijuana retail sales operations very near schools, parks or playgrounds, at the request of local law enforcement, or in one case, because of the sheer size of its distribution operations."
I think property is a silly concept, so don't get me wrong. Nonetheless, it is fucked up that all they need is to file suit, argue federal law over state/local law, proceed to take their property. Funny thing is, Berkeley Patients Group will most likely buy a new building and it will only be a hindrance to them for a short period. I really have to agree with the mayor on this one.

Some more information here:
DOJ pursuing asset forfeiture in Berkeley Patients Group case

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Restore the Fourth movement

For nearly a month, there has been a movement growing on the internet. It is called Restore the Fourth - they'll be having protests around the US, UK, & Canada on July 4th, 2013. 

It seems like they are relatively well-organized, but there are a lot of angles to cover. They've got a website and they've been garnering support on Reddit since day 1. Their website has local listings, so see if there's a protest near you!

Sadly, we cannot make it to San Francisco for the protest. It will probably be on the news for a day or two, at least. (Did Occupy Wall Street plan to live in that park, or was it just a one day event like this? How organized were they? Did they have funding before they started?)

Anyone planning on attending?