Archive for September 2007
I was driving around the other day and started thinking about politics for some reason. I think it was perhaps because of all the talk of presidential candidates recently in the news and possibly because I bought both of Barack Obama’s books to read. My mind tends to wander a lot when I drive and that’s when the best ideas and theories come to me.
Anyway, I realized that the most liberal states in the union are also the richest states, while the most conservative states tend to be the poorest states. However, the stereotype of rich people is that they’re very conservative. How is it possible that the rich states are liberal?
Perhaps it’s not people with lots of money that make California the 5th biggest economy in the world, but the sheer population of it? However, if that was the case then Texas would be liberal since it has the 2nd largest population of the states and it’s known as one of the most conservative states.
Population doesn’t directly correlate to wealth either. If that was the case then India would be the second richest country in the world, but that’s not the case. It does have the 12th biggest GDP in the world, but ranks 132nd in terms of GDP per capita. Compare that to the United States, which has the biggest GDP in the world and ranks 4th in GDP per capita. Our wealth is definitely more spread out among the people than in India due to our large middle class, but that still doesn’t seem to answer my question.
Perhaps maybe it is population density that leads to a more liberal state of mind? Here are the population densities of some of the most liberal cities in America:
- New York City: 27,083/sq mi
- San Francisco: 15,834/sq mi
- Chicago: 12,470/sq mi
- Boston: 12,327/sq mi
- Berkeley: 9,823.3/sq mi
- Seattle: 6,901/sq mi
Major areas that are more conservative like San Diego and Orange County fall way under this mark with population densities of 3,871.5/sq mi and 3,606/sq mi, respectively. I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule as there are lots of hippie communes in the middle of Oregon, but for the most part I think that a higher population density leads to more liberal thinking.
I’d love to hear other thoughts or ideas on this matter.
Hacking the iPhone was pretty difficult until NullRiver came out with this amazing application called AppTapp that automates the whole process. Now you just run an installer and it adds Installer.app to your iPhone, which is a graphical package manager similar to apt-get or yum for Linux. You can choose from a ton of applications that people have developed for it and it automatically updates all the applications when you click on Installer.app on your phone.
Here are the simple instructions for getting 3rd party apps on your iPhone:
- Go to the AppTapp beta site and download the appropriate version based on OS and iTunes version
- Quit iTunes and double-click the installer to install it onto your phone
- You know have a new icon on the Home screen called Installer that you can use to automatically install/update a large number of 3rd party apps.
There’s a lot of really nerdy apps in there such as Python/Perl interpreters, but there’s also some interesting ones. Here’s a rundown of what I thought of some of them.
- SummerBoard: By far the best application for the iPhone. It allows you to basically change the way the Home screen looks and acts. I highly recommend it for anyone that is planning on installer more than two 3rd party apps.
- Community Sources: Gives you access to other community-maintained repositories, thereby increasing the number of applications you can install.
- Books: This application allows you to download eBooks to your iPhone for reading while on the go. Manybooks.net is a good complement to this application as it has a ton of public domain and Creative Commons books for free that you can save. The only downside to this application is that you need to somehow upload the books to the phone, but there’s documentation explaining how to do this with either a script or FTP.
- OpenSSH: This is a good one to have as it allows you to use SSH to transfer files and run commands.
- Term-vt100: This is a good one to have if you need to execute commands on your phone. I personally use it to administer my Linux boxes with SSH when I’m not in front of my computer. Running top on it can be fun as well if you’re into seeing what’s going on behind the scenes on your iPhone.
- iBlackjack: This game is extremely buggy as it doesn’t have all the rules plugged in yet, but once it gets a little love I’m definitely going to use this to waste a few minutes while waiting in lines.
- Tap Tap Revolution: This one just came out and I’m not a huge fan of it, but it definitely shows some creativity in how to use the touch screen for games.
There’s a ton of other packages as well and the list seems to grow daily, but these are the ones I recommend playing around with to see the full potential of the iPhone.
I just read an article about Apple spending $720,000 on lobbying the US government for patent reform and technology education. While I completely agree with the causes Apple is lobbying for, I really dislike the fact that the only way to get anything done in our government is with large sums of money. Isn’t the government supposed to serve the people and not the money?
I understand that it obviously isn’t possible to hear every single voice in the country, as there are only 100 members of the Senate and 435 members of the House of Representatives that collectively represent the interests of 300 million people. However, we have the technology that could make it possible for this to happen.
Think about this: Google serves up answers for 91 million queries per day. Imagine some sort of human-powered oracle that answered any question you had in any language in less than a second. Just thinking about a human-powered version of that boggles the mind, yet Google does it effortlessly every single day for the world. This is the kind of solution we need to embrace for telling our governments what we want and helping to make political decisions.
We already have the right to vote on politicians and select propositions, but lobbying is how those propositions make it to the ballot. Why do only the people with money get to decide what appears on those ballots? It’s like we have this false sense of participation in our government because we get to vote on things, yet we didn’t get a say in what issues were worth voting on.
I understand that the United States is a republic and not a direct democracy, and that is why these things are the way they are. It even makes sense that it is a republic because when the country was founded in the 18th century it was completely absurd to think that everyone’s voice could be a part of the process. But now that we have the means to aggregate the collective opinions of the populace, should that system perhaps change?
Note that I’m not advocating ochlocracy or anything where the people just make all the decisions and self-govern. I think James Madison had it right in Federalist Paper No. 10 when he said that government should protect its citizens from factions and that a direct democracy would value the opinions of the majority and sacrifice individual liberties. What I’m proposing is just a solution that can aggregate the thoughts and opinions of the populace and make those opinions known to the politicians so that they can make more informed decisions. What I want is to see headlines like “720,000 people support patent reform” as opposed to “$720,000 supports patent reform.” Something like the Facebook Causes application but on a more global and accessible level.