Happy People at LinuxFest Northwest 2015

I only had about 45 minutes to take a few pictures (and grab a beer) at LFNW after party. Other years I’ve had more time, more pictures. This is what I got.

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Let’s Make a Better Halloween (rant)

Knowing that 350 million children will groggily wake up on Nov 1 and then dart to their cache of candy and start snarling like wolves when their parents say its time for school makes me a bit depressed. Halloween must be one of the most worthless and most health-destructive holidays ever.

Consider what mixed messages we’re stirring into our kids: oh its ok to glut on this gutrot industrial corn byproduct they cant even feed to cattle — but no — lets dress up and frenzy about trying to collect as much of this unnaturally sweet drug as possible before we crash out in the living room gloating over our carefully counted horde. But…

…then we try and take it away! This gold they quested in exciting costumes to binge on. “Because its not good for them.” This pile of stuff, uh, candy is *theirs!* Why did we let them get it at all?

It’s so absurd for a nation in such bad health to drive their kids from house to house to collect this corn syrup that should never be in anyone’s diets to begin with. We’re teaching that the candy is valuable and precious. And a few very rich people know that they don’t have to make any money on halloween candy…this is the gateway drug for a life lived on prepackaged food that just looks healthier but is just as terrible for your health.

I look forward to less candy and better costumes and scarrier displays in my front yard. Giving away stickers or handfulls of green noodles for brains. I need to steer this holiday into territory I won’t be ashamed of.

I like the walking around the neighborhood at night bit. This is good in many ways. This should be safe every night, not just haloween. However, what other quick, tricky, creative and icky ideas should we start practicing for our wee visitors in costume?

Consider: Organic, the World Over?

This is a great little article about how organic farming should be able to scale globally. I’ve heard many interviews on various science podcasts where guests (and their sponsoring corporations) are convinced that existing agriculture techniques are incapable of feeding the whole world…thus the “obvious need” for GMO crops. Let’s presume that’s false for a moment so as to better consider some pros and cons: chemical fertilizer is a form of petroleum dependency, GMO crops create economic dependency, GMO crops create legal and ecological hazards, encouraging industrial scale farming decreases community self-reliance and increases petrol use with increased shipping…I’m sure I could list more.

I’m a technologist, a programmer, I’m where I am because of industrialization, industrial farming, and very likely am alive because of industrialized medicine. There must be balance between community and corporation, however.

Imagine Bank Subsidy for Community Solar

I stumbled up this news release about a bank in Uttar Pradesh,┬áIndia, that is providing loans to help install solar panels. I’m going to alter a section and make it more American just for the sake of illustration–to help you image the number of people this press release is talking about:

For providing the solar panels, Mumble Bank has partnered with a leading manufacturer of solar equipment. The solar panels costs US $305 US, of which the bank finances up to US $249. To purchase this system, beneficiaries must make a down payment of US $57 and pay equated monthly instalments of US $5.55 for 60 months (interest payable at 12% per annum). Mumble Bank chairman, Bob Mumble said: “By providing easy loans for setting up solar photovoltaic systems, we have been responsible for lighting up the homes of over 28,000 rural families. By March 2011, we plan to install 50,000 solar panels across the community.”

First point to make is obviously, I’m guessing the energy needs in rural India are very likely 1/10th American usage. But multiply those numbers by 10. Why are you not seeing flyers in your mail for this? Wouldn’t all banks and insurance companies be interested investing in this kind of economic stability in America? Someone–please tell me why solar installations seem so rare in America?