Protect your privacy online

The August 24 edition of 60 Minutes alerted me to the problem of data mining and the unintended consequences of my activity o the web. I strongly recommend that you watch this segment and take action to protect your privacy.

Some of the tools that are mentioned are:

The search engine, DuckDuckGo

Disconnect privacy products, and,

MaskMe, which allows you to create disposable email addresses, phone numbers, and credit cards. Here’s a review that appears in PC Magazine, By Neil J. Rubenking

Hardly a day goes by without news of another organization suffering a data breach involving thousands or even millions of stolen user data records. If your email information appears in the mix, your antispam utility will probably see a spike in pointless mail. Abine’s free MaskMe service lets you communicate with retailers, discussion groups, and other websites without ever giving them your actual email address, so they can’t lose it in a data breach (or sell it to spammers). As a bonus, it also serves as a simple password manager. More…

Hopefully, we can prevent the internet from becoming a worse wasteland than broadcast TV. –t.h.g.

American City Planners Take Note

This item from Quora Digest really hit home with me.

What are the differences between the American and German ways of living, but in the town planning context?

By Judith Meyer, Well-traveled native German

German city planning is based on the idea that everything you need for your daily life (groceries, kindergarten, primary school, church) should be reachable on foot and that everything else should be reachable by public transport. The city administrations draw up maps of the cities like this and determine what kind of buildings they want to see in a certain area. Read More»

Affordable Housing: Here’s a great article to help you find it.

An article in Shareable, describes, 11 Affordable Housing Alternatives for City Dwellers.

“After World War II, white, middle-class Americans flocked to the suburbs from the city. Today, that trend is reversing. As post-suburbanites move back into cities, escalating housing costs are forcing low and middle income folks and people of color out to the suburbs. This shift was described by Alan Ehrenhalt in his 2013 book, The Great Inversion. The result is that the diverse communities that make cities resilient creative centers are being displaced or forced to find new, affordable housing options.

“In June, Shareable partnered with the San Francisco Public Press to explore the housing crisis. Through a series of articles and an event dubbed Hack the Housing Crisis we looked at causes of and solutions to the housing crisis. While the event was focused on San Francisco – the most expensive housing market in the United States – cities around the world are facing similar problems or soon will be.

“Through the month of June, we published articles about public housing done right,  new rules for in-law suites in San Francisco, biourbanism, housing auctions in Detroit, a follow-up to Hack the Housing Crisis, and more. Our partners at San Francisco Public Press also ran a number of housing stories online and are issuing a special housing-themed print edition of their paper this month.

“Here, we’ve rounded up 11 affordable housing alternatives for city dwellers because if we want cities to thrive, we need to rethink how we house everybody, not just the rich.”

Read the rest of the story.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

I don’t know where this originated, but I like it. Perhaps you will, too. –t.h.g.
Some celebrated answers.
STEPHEN HARPER:  Let me be perfectly clear.  I did not know about the chicken, I did not know about the road.  If I would have been made aware of them I would certainly have taken appropriate action and prevented the chicken from crossing the road.  The culprits responsible for the chicken crossing the road are being investigated by the RCMP.
THOMAS MULCAIR:  If the Prime Minister didn’t know about the chicken and he didn’t know about the road, how did he know that the chicken had any intention of crossing the road?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU:  The chicken crossed the road because the other side had legalized marijuana.
ROB FORD:  That video of me snorting that chicken does not exist and I’ve only crossed that road in a drunken stupor.
SARAH PALIN: The chicken crossed the road because, gosh-darn it, he’s a maverick!
BARACK OBAMA: Let me be clear, the chicken crossed the road because it was time for change! The chicken wanted change! Real change! Change he could believe in!
HILLARY CLINTON: When I was Secretary of State, I travelled that road thousands of times and I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road each time. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure, right from Day One, that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn’t about me.
GEORGE W. BUSH: We don’t really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either with us or against us. There is no middle ground here.
DICK CHENEY: Where’s my gun?
COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.
BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken.
AL GORE: I invented the chicken.
AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.
DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won’t realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he’s acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.
OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I’m going to give this chicken a NEW CAR so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.
NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he’s guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.
MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer’s Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.
DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I’ve not been told.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.
JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can’t you people see the plain truth? That’s why they call it the ‘other side.’ Yes, my friends, That chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the Liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like ‘the other side.’ That chicken should not be crossing the road. It’s as plain and as simple as that.
GRANDPA: In my day we didn’t ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.
BARBARA WALTERS: Isn’t that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish it’s lifelong dream of crossing the road.
ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.
JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.
BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2013, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken2013. This new platform is much more stable and will never reboot.
ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?
COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Why political turmoil in Thailand?

Over the past seven years I’ve spent a great amount of time in Thailand, a place I’m very fond of for its culture, climate, friendliness and food. People often ask me about safety and what is behind the political turmoil there? The following report from the Associated Press provides some good insights on that. –t.h.g.
Thailand’s coup: Key questions answered
May 31, 2014 10:33 AM EST

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s army seized power in a May 22 coup, the Southeast Asian nation’s second in eight years. Here, four Associated Press correspondents who have been covering the crisis and the political turmoil leading up to it offer their insight into recent events:

Q: THAILAND IS KNOWN AS THE “LAND OF SMILES.” WHY IS THERE SO MUCH POLITICAL TURMOIL?

Thai society is undergoing major change, and politics over the past decade has in part been a battle between the old royalist ruling class and an ascendant majority based in the north and northeast that has benefited from development and has begun to see itself as a political force.

Much of that struggle has played out around one man — former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire tycoon deposed by a 2006 coup who now lives in self-imposed exile to avoid a prison sentence on a corruption conviction. The issue of whether to support or oppose Thaksin and his powerful political machine has divided friends, families and the nation. –more

The Buddhist way-Principles to live by

The Buddhist way

1.  FREE YOURSELF FROM NEGATIVE PEOPLE.

Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and likeminded.  Relationships should help you, not hurt you.  Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be.  Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it.  Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  When you free yourself from negative people, you free yourself to be YOU – and being YOU is the only way to truly live.

2.  LET GO OF THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY GONE.

The sad truth is that there are some people who will only be there for you as long as you have something they need.  When you no longer serve a purpose to them, they will leave.  The good news is, if you tough it out, you’ll eventually weed these people out of your life and be left with some great people you can count on.  We rarely lose friends and lovers, we just gradually figure out who our real ones are.  So when people walk away from you, let them go.   Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you.  It doesn’t mean they are bad people; it just means that their part in your story is over.

3.  GIVE PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW A FAIR CHANCE.

When you look at a person, any person, remember that everyone has a story.  Everyone hasgone through something that has changed them, and forced them to grow.  Every passing face on the street represents a story every bit as compelling and complicated as yours.  We meet no ordinary people in our lives.  If you give them a chance, everyone has something amazing to offer.  So appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work.  Trust your judgment.  Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory.  Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever.

4.  SHOW EVERYONE KINDNESS AND RESPECT.

Treat everyone with kindness and respect, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are.  There are no boundaries or classes that define a group of people that deserve to be respected.  Treat everyone with the same level of respect you would give to your grandfather and the same level of patience you would have with your baby brother.  People will notice your kindness.

5.  ACCEPT PEOPLE JUST THE WAY THEY ARE.

In most cases it’s impossible to change them anyway, and it’s rude to try.  So save yourself from needless stress.  Instead of trying to change others, give them your support and lead by example.

6.  ENCOURAGE OTHERS AND CHEER FOR THEM.

Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are leads to good places – productive, fulfilling, peaceful places.  So be happy for those who are making progress.  Cheer for their victories.  Be thankful for their blessings, openly.  What goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you.

7.  BE YOUR IMPERFECTLY PERFECT SELF.

In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your awesome self.  And when they laugh at you for being different, laugh back at them for being the same.  Spend more time with those who make you smile and less time with those who you feel pressured to impress.  Be your imperfectly perfect self around them.  We are not perfect for everyone, we are only perfect for those select few people that really take the time to get to know us and love us for who we really are.  And to those select few, being our imperfectly perfect self is what they love about us.

8.  FORGIVE PEOPLE AND MOVE FORWARD.

Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.”  Forgiveness is the remedy.  It doesn’t mean you’re erasing the past, or forgetting what happened.  It means you’re letting go of the resentment and pain, and instead choosing to learn from the incident and move on with your life.  Remember, the less time you spend hating the people who hurt you, the more time you’ll have to love the people who love you.

9.  DO LITTLE THINGS EVERY DAY FOR OTHERS.

Sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.  You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be everything to a few people.  Decide who these people are in your life and treat them like royalty.

10. PAY ATTENTION TO WHO YOUR REAL FRIENDS ARE.

As we grow up, we realize it becomes less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.  Remember, life is kind of like a party.  You invite a lot of people, some leave early, some stay all night, some laugh with you, some laugh at you, and some show up really late.  But in the end, after the fun, there are a few who stay to help you clean up the mess.  And most of the time, they aren’t even the ones who made the mess.  These people are your real friends in life.  They are the ones who matter most.

11. ALWAYS BE LOYAL. 

True love and real friendship aren’t about being inseparable. These relationships are about two people being true to each other even when they are separated.  When it comes to relationships, remaining faithful is never an option, but a priority.  Loyalty is everything.

12. STAY IN BETTER TOUCH WITH PEOPLE WHO MATTER TO YOU.

In human relationships distance is not measured in miles, but in affection.  Two people can be right next to each other, yet miles apart.  So don’t ignore someone you care about, because lack of concern hurts more than angry words.  Stay in touch with those who matter to you.  Not because it’s convenient, but because they’re worth the extra effort.  Remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.  Paying attention to these people is a priority.

13. KEEP YOUR PROMISES AND TELL THE TRUTH.

If you say you’re going to do something, DO IT!  If you say you’re going to be somewhere, BE THERE!  If you say you feel something, MEAN IT!  If you can’t, won’t, and don’t, then DON’T LIE.  It’s always better to tell people the truth up front.  Don’t play games with people’s heads and hearts.  Don’t tell half-truths and expect people to trust you when the full truth comes out; half-truths are no better than lies.  Remember, love and friendship don’t hurt.  Lying, cheating and screwing with people’s feelings and emotions hurts.  Never mess with someone’s feelings just because you’re unsure of yours.  Always be open and honest.

14. GIVE WHAT YOU WANT TO RECEIVE.

Don’t expect what you are not willing to give.  Start practicing the golden rule.  If you want love, give love.  If you want friends, be friendly.  If you want money, provide value.  It works.  It really is this simple.

15. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY.

Give the people in your life the information they need, rather than expecting them to know the unknowable.  Information is the grease that keeps the engine of communication functioning.  Start communicating clearly.  Don’t try to read other people’s minds, and don’t make other people try to read yours.  Most problems, big and small, within a family, friendship, or business relationships, start with bad communication.

16. ALLOW OTHERS TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS.

Do not judge others by your own past.  They are living a different life than you are.  What might be good for one person may not be good for another.  What might be bad for one person might change another person’s life for the better.  Allow people to make their own mistakes and their own decisions.

17. TALK A LITTLE LESS, AND LISTEN MORE.

Less advice is often the best advice.  People don’t need lots of advice, they need a listening ear and some positive reinforcement.  What they want to know is often already somewhere inside of them.  They just need time to think, be and breathe, and continue to explore the undirected journeys that will eventually help them find their direction.

18. LEAVE PETTY ARGUMENTS ALONE.

Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right.  There are many roads to what’s right.  And most of the time it just doesn’t matter that much.

19. IGNORE UNCONSTRUCTIVE, HURTFUL COMMENTARY.

No one has the right to judge you.  They might have heard your stories, but they didn’t feel what you were going through.  No matter what you do, there will always be someone who thinks differently.  So concentrate on doing what you know in your heart is right.  What most people think and say about you isn’t all that important.  What is important is how you feel about yourself.

20. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF.

One of the most painful things in life is losing yourself in the process of loving others too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  When was the last time someone told you that they loved you just the way you are, and that what you think and how you feel matters?  When was the last time someone told you that you did a good job, or took you someplace, simply because they know you feel happy when you’re there?  When was the last time that ‘someone’ was YOU?

 

Reconsidering death

Can we, should we, choose how we die and when we die? This article from The Sun magazine, doesn’t address those specific questions but it does consider end of life options and treatments that may extend life beyond anything meaningful or desirable.

The Long Goodbye–Katy Butler On How Modern Medicine Decreases Our Chance Of A Good Death

Here’s one short quote that caught my attention:

“There’s a New England Journal of Medicine study that shows that people who get palliative care and hospice live either as long as or longer than people who are receiving aggressive treatment. It’s quite ironic.”