NPR?

Is it National Public Radio or National Pandering Radio?
Today NPR broadcast another story on the drug war; this time around the idea of marijuana legalization. The story does little more than pander to the thugs and criminals who make their living from the drug war.
No, I do not mean those nasty cartels.
I mean the federal, state and local government infrastructure that thrives on the so called drug war.
End this war and not only will a dent be put into the cartels operation but we will be able to undo great swathes of government.
Republicans and democrats alike support things like the drug war. Republicans because it is a way to increase the presence of the police state under the guise of law and order. Democrats because, well, the drug war to them is a wonderful tool to expand their precious government: more police, more jails, more clogged courtrooms, more programs for this and for that.
I listen to NPR a lot. There really aren’t any consistently good alternatives if you want a heavy dose of news and insightful talk (lots of the latter on KUOW).
Unfortunately on issues like the drug war, the Iraq war, the Afghanistan War, the financial meltdown, etc., NPR parses closer to the line of the DC administration du jour than either the left or the right would like to admit.
At least it is not the blatant ideological drivel that so often pops up on left and right talk radio.

Via Radley Balko.

Amricana flickr Collection

3115 photos from the 1910s, ’30s and ’40s recently uploaded by the Library of Congress:

We want people to tag, comment and make notes on the images, just like any other Flickr photo, which will benefit not only the community but also the collections themselves. For instance, many photos are missing key caption information such as where the photo was taken and who is pictured. If such information is collected via Flickr members, it can potentially enhance the quality of the bibliographic records for the images.

The flickr folks have some things to say about this as well.

Via Singing Loudly.

Help Wanted? Work Wanted?

If you live in Japan Just answer your cell phone:
Joi Ito introduces us to otetsudai networks:

With Otetsudai Networks, if you are willing to work, you sign up for the service with your skills and focus, take a GPS reading on your phone and then just hang out. If you are looking for someone for say… 3 hours to man a cash register or help wash dishes, you just send the request to Otetsudai Networks and within minutes, you have a list of people available. The list shows what each person is qualified for, how others have rated their work and exactly how far away they are. Typically you will receive a list of half a dozen or more people within a few minutes.

Amongst a zillion other things it would be interesting to find out:

  • How many of these part timers eventually go to work full time for one of the businesses they worked at.
  • If a business is frequently hiring folk for 2-3 hour shifts does the potential workforce start congregating closer to the business.

There are aspects of this that many business areas need to be moved toward:

It’s also a perfect example of a location based, peer-to-peer reputation based, mobile behavior oriented product for an aging society.

Law and health care come to mind as easy examples. Almost completely missing from our interaction with the legal and health care system is a good reputation based evaluation system easily available to potential customers via a variety of easy to use network access methods: cell, web, etc. A

…marketplace, in which families armed with specific information about the treatment success and prices of hospitals and doctors can shop at will for the best quality and most affordable care.*

I’d rephrase this along the lines of consumers can shop at will for the quality of service and price that they prefer.
This type of information needs to be available for each of the monopolistic, read government licensed, service organizations.
Medical and legal licenses may provide a bit more asssurance that the holder knows something but when you get right down to it be it a hairdresser, doctor, real estate agent, lawyer or other state licensee all we really know is that they are licensed. We know nothing more about the quality of their work than that they have not been tossed out of their respective licensing organization. In many cases we know little to nothing about their fee structures.**
This needs to change.

*Strange, I just favorably quoted a paraphrase of a bush appointee’s vision. Rather wrenching.

**Well, we do know that the typical realtor charges monopoly pricing.

Bless the High-tech churches

For they know exactly what they are doing:

Last year, churches spent $8.1 billion on audio and projection equipment, according to Texas-based TFCinfo, an audiovisual market research firm. Today, 80 percent of churches integrate elaborate video and audio systems as well as an array of online materials into their worship services, and at least a dozen magazines cater to the high-tech pious.

Like ordinary businesses we can expect cults and scam artists to try to maximize their take utilizing available tools.

Life is Good!

Aren’t the internets wonderful!
Why just this evening I received an email notifying me that, well, read for yourself:

In conjunction with the ECOWAS, UNO and the EU, We are giving out a yearly donation of US$850,000.00 (Eight hundred and Fifty thousand United states dollars only) each to 100 lucky recipients. These specific Donations/Grants will be awarded to 100 lucky international recipients worldwide, in different categories.
Based on the random selection exercise of internet websites and millions of supermarket cash invoices worldwide, you were selected amongst the lucky recipients to receive the award sum of US$850,000.00 as charity donations/aid.

I’m so happy!!
Please don’t tell the irs….