Philosophizing About Contests

Yesterday, we spent most of the day at the Red, White and Brew festival, put on by Harley-Davidson of Charlotte (which, incidentally, is located in Matthews). This latter fact is neither here nor there.

As with many festivals we have attended of late, it was a little sparse – a few tents for vendors hawking their wares, a couple of “sponsors”, and the obligatory food and drink. There was also a pet rescue service on site, which was a bit out of place, but nice to see, if you felt you had enough of the motorcycles and beer.

Ultimately, the whole thing seemed to be about the contest: The store was giving away a Harley. It was a nice looking one, too. Keeping in mind that I am not really into motorcycles, so you may want to realize that it looks nice – it might not be anything more than one that looks pretty.

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Why do planes have windows?

That isn’t to say that I think you should be stuck in a long tube with undecorated walls, because that might be a little creepy, and perhaps even claustrophobic. I’ve been in an inside cabin in a cruise ship, and I get the concept of the window. It’s very comforting that you can see out, even if you aren’t going to be able to actually open that window – and let’s face it, you can’t open that window in the plane.

While I am not an engineer, and I have no formal training as to the psychology of the windows themselves, I have to imagine that having windows is less structurally sounds that not having windows. So what if planes didn’t have them, at least in the passenger compartment? Yes, this would make a giant steel tube, and it might seem claustrophobic. Hear me out.

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It's not the Information Age, it's the Garbage Age

Every time we turn around, someone wants to label the times in which we live. Many would call these the golden years, though they invariably are only golden compared to those that come after us and remember how much better things were previous to now. Looking at a prior time is invariably better because you are not burdened with the day-to-day, and you can look fondly upon those memories.

Regardless, many will look upon these times as the information age because of the explosion of data and machinery to process the data. Unfortunately, it is just as appropriate to look upon this as the garbage age because of all the junk we leave by the wayside.

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Just How Secure is Your Password, Anyway?

It seems like every few days, there is an announcement about a problem with a “security database” at some web service or another. The problem with having so much information in the cloud is that it means your very identity is in the hands of someone else. It is quite possible that someone will take good care of it. But it is also possible that someone will take the information and do something with the information that they shouldn’t.

And let’s face it, the more sites out there, the less and less likely that we are going to be able to keep track of all the credentials needed to log into them. Something has to be done at some point, but in the meantime, we have to figure out first just how secure (or perhaps how insecure) those sites are in the first place.

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How Survivor Teaches Us About Politics

While that might not be a precise title, it’s not far off.

In the annals of history – which is to say, about 13 years ago at this writing – the CBS television show premiered, and is generally credited with creating the reality television genre. What really happened, for those of you who weren’t watching at the time, was that 15 contestants demonstrated they had no idea what was happening, while one (Richard Hatch) promptly showed the world that he had no problem parading around in the buff and walking away with a million dollars.

Unfortunately, he soon forgot that he was being broadcast on television, and that everyone knew he won a million dollars, and the government would come looking for their cut. Eventually he would do some time for not paying taxes. In the meantime, the game would change. There are a few players (see Rob Mariano) who would use their skill at manipulation to win, but the vast majority simply hunkered down in voting blocs to try and ride out the game. For a more in-depth look at that (probably too in-depth), take a look over here.

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How Far Do We Go to Protect Our Own Assets?

In this case, let’s look at the upcoming (in progress?) merger between American and USAirways as an example. Each airline operates a reasonable number of flights at a number of airports across the country. But with nine hubs in this merge, someone is bound to lose. The problem comes down to the cities that have those airports.

For instance, the two largest hubs – Dallas/Fort Worth (786 combined flights at the merger announcement) and Charlotte/Douglas (653 flights) both have bonds outstanding. This is really no surprise, as most airports have bonds issues, for anything from parking decks to new terminals. But if an airport is shuttered, or even loses a lot of flights, as Pittsburgh did previously, then those bonds may have a tough time being repaid.

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Paying the Occupy Protesters? Really?

First came the news that New York City would be paying the Occupy Wall Street protesters more than $100,000 for property damaged when their “camp” was cleared out. Then it was bumped to $230,4000. Seriously?

I’m the first to admit that I don’t get it. I’mold. On the edge, and not the good one – depending on who you ask, I am either beyond the desired demographic or just barely within it, and I understand that. I may or may not have come to grips with that fact just yet. The point is that I don’t get the whole Occupy movement. It isn’t quite a sit in – most of the people taking part in the movement probably have no idea what the sit in is, in fact. Instead, they just have nothing better to do.

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Coming to Grips with Insecurity

Slightly more than eleven years ago – and a bit less than six months after the attacks of September 11, 2001 – I wrote a short piece to no one in particular. I actually addressed it to “Mr. President”, at the time meaning it would have been delivered to George W. Bush. But it was only a title, someone to focus the energy of the letter, and not specifically aimed at him.

The point of the letter was simply to get out the feelings that had been going through my mind for a while. At the time, there was no Facebook, no Twitter. Even blogs were something of a novel invention then. I may or may not actually post the contents of the letter itself. I thought about sending a hard copy it to a representative, but since they usually result in a form letter response, I didn’t (or haven’t).

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Debating the Effectiveness of Vaccination

Movies like 28 Days Later, Contagion and Outbreak cater to our fear that something is going to come along that will destroy our way of life. Ultimately it is more than that. In a society that is both ever more connected and ever more disconnected, by interacting so closely and being able to very quickly be on the other side of the world, events like these show that the efficacy of vaccination is called into question now more than ever.

No one wants the elderly to pass, but ultimately they are old. They have lived their lives, and as they age, they tend to suffer. There are ailments of all sorts, from broken hips and heart troubles to cancer and well, more cancer. In some cases, dying can actually be seen as a blessing because it can put and end to their suffering. Jack Kevorkian may be the most extreme example of this. The point being that we don’t often put a whole lot of thought into the aged dying from sickness – they are supposed to do so, right?

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Premature Announcement Syndrome

Is it just me, or are companies really having a problem dealing with technology?

For those that don’t know, I work in the technology field – and I’m not just talking about whatever residual income may flow through the site here. I’m talking about my actual “day job”, where I work on actual computers and networks and all things geeky. That mans I have a reasonable understanding of how things work.

As such, I really understand why companies want to not have to send you a piece of paper every month to explain their relationship with you. Even for for those not in the technology industry, it’s not hard – printing all those statements and delivering them to your customers is a huge expense in equipment, supplies and postage.

What I don’t get is why they are so colossally bad at making it happen.

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