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Nullish Coalescing and Optional Chaining

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  critique ethics tech web

9 min read | 2554 words | 764 views | 0 comments

Unless you're a front-end web developer, "nullish coalescing" and "optional chaining" probably don't mean much to you. If you're like me though, you cringe inwardly every time you read them. So, what's the big deal with them, and why are they bad?

Actually, bad is an understatement: these are simply downright evil. Nullish coalescing and optional chaining (hereafter N.C. and O.C. for short) are special operators in JavaScript that attempt to simplify traditional JavaScript syntax. To understand why they were introduc… — Read full post

Almost Everybody Is Wrong About Incandescent Bulbs

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  activism critique environment health policy

6 min read | 1753 words | 425 views | 0 comments

Earlier this week, the New York Times ran its latest attack article vilifying incandescent light bulbs.

The article states objective facts which are long known to be true: incandescent bulbs are highly inefficient and have a relatively short life span. Seizing on the fact that incandescent bulbs are supposedly more readily availble in poorer areas, the author then goes on a crusade against the technology, blaming the Trump administration's blocking of a ban on incandescents, which is ironic, because that's probably one of its few environmental accomplishments on record. … — Read full post

The Left Is As Clueless About The Environment As The Right

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  activism critique environment policy

5 min read | 1344 words | 548 views | 0 comments

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the Republicans and the right are beholden to fossil fuel interests and the Democrats and the left are beholden to renewable energy interests.

Is that a generalization? Yes. Is it pretty much spot on, though? Also yes.

The left has a long history of conflating “renewable energy” with “sustainable energy” and forgoing substantive action on climate change for misguided polices that do nothing more than rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. Actually, that’s an understatement. Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic doesn’t do any harm. Policies espoused in the “Green New Deal” and the latest climate change bill that is being discussed actively make the problem worse. So a more accurate metaphor would be puncturing … — Read full post

When the World Wide Web goes on strike, how do you fight back?

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  critique tech web

6 min read | 1745 words | 639 views | 0 comments

As some people may know, my primary browser of choice is SRWare Iron 70. Iron is a Chromium-based browser that's very similar to Chrome, without the phoning home to Google (although some people allege there are other concerns). How much better than Chrome it is exactly is up for debate, but it essentially looks and feels exactly like Chrome. I'll use both Chromium and Chrome throughout this post to reflect the fact that Chrome is just a specific Chromium-based browser, and I haven't been a regular Chrome user in years now, so using Chromium is more encompassing.

I don't use the latest version of … — Read full post

Why The Green New Deal Won't Save Us

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  activism critique environment

10 min read | 2783 words | 662 views | 0 comments

The Green New Deal has attracted a lot of flack as its viability has been the subject of political bantering in a highly polarized climate. Some people have said it goes too far, while others have said it doesn't go far enough. Some environmentalists are more candid with themselves — it's, at best, a distraction from real pressing problems that deserve our attention.

The Green Deal simplify exemplifies an environmental ignorance that plagues the mainstream. And it's not just conservatives, as some liberals might jive. Michael Moore's documentary, Planet of the Humans aired earlier this year and was available for free viewing for several months. Conservatives propped it up as evidence that environmentalism is a hoax, while liberals criticized its criticism of human grow… — Read full post

W.E. Energies Smart Meter Likely Culpable in House Fire Causing $100,000 in Damages

Posted by Contributor

  activism critique environment ethics health policy

10 min read | 2993 words | 816 views | 0 comments

Damages from the fire totaled $100,000 Figure 1.1 - Damages from the fire totaled $100,000

On July 6th, 2020, at approximately 3:05pm, the Waukesha Fire Department responded to a local house fire. Of course, that's what their firefighters are paid to do everyday. What was odd about this fire were some of the details regarding how the fire started and the nature of the response to it. Suspicions were further intensified as the investigation began to unfold, and the puzzle pieces began pointing to a familiar culprit: smart meters.

Press release from Wireless Action

… — Read full post

Death To Box Tops: Creative or Cover-up?

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  critique environment tech

7 min read | 1830 words | 735 views | 0 comments

In the past 25 years, General Mills' Box Tops For Education program has raised nearly $1 billion for schools. For better or worse, that era has come to an end. General Mills planned to phase Box Tops out completely by December 2019, so if you haven't seen any on boxes for quite a while, now you know why.

Of course, General Mills is pretending that it hasn't actually killed off Box Tops… they're just "going digital", but they're no longer Box Tops, theoretically or practically.

For over 20 years, Box Tops for Education has given families an easy way to earn cash for their school, with products they already buy.
Now you can simply scan your store receipt with the Box Tops mobile app to identify participating products and instantly a
… — Read full post

The End Is Near: FCC delivers final nail in the coffin to 7-digit dialing in 87 area codes

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  critique policy telecom

14 min read | 4065 words | 1436 views | 0 comments

UPDATE: The number of affected area codes is 87, not 88. As this continues to be an evolving situation, refer to the Anti-Digit Dialing League's official website for the latest details.

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2020—Today, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules to establish 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. The rules require all phone service providers to direct all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.

To ensure that calls to 988 reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, all covered providers will be required to implement 10-digit dia
… — Read full post

Chasing Love: An Illusory Myth

Posted by Contributor

  critique ethics society

10 min read | 2726 words | 727 views | 0 comments

The world is more electronic and transactional today than it has ever been before. Some would go so far as to say that the world is more connected than it's ever been before, but depending on what exactly one means by this, it's a contentious assertion.

Although the Internet has given way to many things in its nearly sixty years of existence (yes, fifty-nine, count 'em!), most of its growth has been due to the adoption of the World Wide Web, which is more than thirty-one years old now. Since then, we've seen the growth of eCommerce, through sites like Amazon and eBay which grew during the 1990s. In the 2000s, we had the rise of social networking giants, some of which have since fallen by the wayside. In recent years, the Internet has continued to become a more diverse arena for a… — Read full post

The "Green Thing"

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  critique environment society

3 min read | 818 words | 664 views | 0 comments

Here's a witty but truthy anecdote we were forwarded recently. We can't find the original source of this, as it's been reposted hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times on the web, and it's been making the rounds for maybe ten years or more. It's perhaps unlikely this conversation ever happened, but it's nonetheless clever and insightful commentary — it's even been narrated for listening enjoyment. Here it is in its original form:

The "Green Thing"

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, "We didn't have t… — Read full post

Smart911: A Dangerous and Distracting Delusion

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  critique policy telecom

4 min read | 946 words | 799 views | 0 comments

It's well-known amongst dispatchers that, today, it's harder than ever for emergency responders to locate 911 callers.

This problem has tremendous implications for emergency callers. The consequences of using a mobile phone to call for help are so dire that there's now even an entire website purportedly dedicated to tackling this issue. Here's a description from the Smart911 website:

Today, 9-1-1 Can’t Find You

Over 80% of calls made to 9-1-1 come from mobile phones. When you dial 9-1-1 from a mobile phone, the 9-1-1 call takers have very little information to help you – only your phone number and a very general sense of your location.

This is a ser

… — Read full post

Diluting The Boxcar Children

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  critique society

6 min read | 1585 words | 688 views | 0 comments

The Boxcar Children has delighted children for nearly a century now — Gertrude Chandler Warner first penned "The Box-Car Children" in 1924, and it was rewritten for publication for children in 1942. (If you can believe it, the Aldens were original the Cordyces in the original novel, which you can read on Project Gutenberg.) Over her lifetime, Warner penned a further eighteen books in the series, and since, other authors have expanded the series to over 150 titles today.

A classic children's series, both interesting, delightful to read, and of arguable merit, The Boxcar Children has changed quite a bit f… — Read full post

It Takes One

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  critique policy telecom

7 min read | 1847 words | 651 views | 0 comments

On September 16, 2019, a bulletin was sent out to Panasonic customers, informing them that the venerable KX-TA824 PBX was going to be discontinued later that year. As of this writing, that time has already passed.

At first, I was surprised. The Panasonic KX-TA824 is truly a work of art. It's a compact, analog, partially electromechanical but mainly electronic Private Automatic Branch Exchange. With 3 trunks and 8 extensions out of the box, expandable to 24 lines, it's enough to get most people started on their never-ending journey of telephone collecting and telephone switching. Or (more boringly), serve as a home or small office phone system.

The KX-TA824 was my first PBX, and even at $99 used, it's a real bargain for what you get. It's much smaller than the 308 EASAPHONE… — Read full post

Inefficient Isn't Always Evil

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  critique environment ethics health policy

5 min read | 1463 words | 797 views | 0 comments

There's no shortage of articles about the messed-up things happening in today's world. Here's the headline of an article of an article from last month:

California's light bulb ban

According to the article, "The California Energy Commission voted on November 13, 2019 to ban the sale of inefficient light bulbs starting January 1, 2020."

OK, interesting enough. Even if the national government hadn't already done something similar, incandescent bulbs are certainly hard enough to find in some places, which is why, for good reason, a lot of people have or are stockpiling them.

What is annoying here is not the ban in and of itself. Although environmental legislation is usu… — Read full post

Californian Legislator promotes false solution to PG&E-induced outages

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  critique policy telecom

8 min read | 2242 words | 936 views | 0 comments

Articles like this one are increasingly common, as PG&E service failures combined with consumer stupidity have made communications gaps painfully obvious to the masses.

However, it is angering and frustrating to see legislators promote false and dubious solutions to these issues, rather than addressing the underlying problems. California Senator Mike McGuire, whose constituency was heavily affected by the PG&E outages, is the latest to join in to the endless cascade of delusional and dangerous "solutions".

McGuire proposed a bill that would mandate cell towers in California's high-risk fire areas to have sufficient backup power for at least 2 days. Maybe … — Read full post

Stop Buying Microsoft Office (and Windows, too)

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  critique tech

9 min read | 2401 words | 611 views | 0 comments

Yes, we're coming right out and saying it. No reservations. The days of paying for Office are past. If you're still upgrading your copy of Office every few years (or worse, shelling out money to Microsoft each month for a subscription), you should really consider closing your wallet to Microsoft and spending that money elsewhere.

Why prompts us to say this? How dare we insinuate that the era of Microsoft dominance is over, and that other office suites and operating systems are now sufficient?

To be clear, we're not endorsing either of these viewpoints because, quite frankly, neither of them is true. Office still runs circles around all the other office suites out there, which are quite pathetic in comparison. It may seem like Office is just unnecessarily powerful, b… — Read full post

An Open Letter to Microsoft: Why Windows 10 Sucks

Posted by Contributor

  critique tech

25 min read | 7419 words | 1239 views | 0 comments

You shamelessly advertise it as the "latest and greatest Windows ever", when, in actuality, most people either love it or hate it. I'm talking, of course, about Windows 10. As of today, the homepage of informs us that "the best Windows keeps getting better", when, in fact, it would be more accurate to reword it "the worst Windows keeps getting worse". On the surface, you promise a slew of never-ending better and better enhancements to your posterchild operating system. Yet, you have consistently failed to deliver. Windows 10 launched on July 29, 2015, and few of what you've promised in the years before and since has materialized. Sure, specific one-liners in the update KBs have, but not the overall promised experience.

Nearly four years after you launched Windows 10 s… — Read full post

The Failings of Modern Day Education

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  critique education society

4 min read | 1003 words | 801 views | 0 comments

Education in the United States right now is quickly becoming a joke. Some would say it already has been, considering that the U.S. lags far behind in math, science, and other benchmark scores compared to other developed (and even less developed) countries. Yet, the controversial Common Core standards have ushered in a new era of unprecedented dumbfounding educational "standards" that are doing little but ensuring that future generations of kids will be dumber than the ones that came before.

If this seems jarring, consider the evidence at hand. Perhaps the biggest dumber of Common Core has been the emphasis on "21st century learning", a movement that is not, as it turns out, academically rooted, but strongly pushed by tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and Apple. After all, they'… — Read full post

A Second Look at Richard Nixon

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5 min read | 1439 words | 605 views | 0 comments

No doubt one way or another, you've been caught up in the drama of the election that ultimately culminates today, when people will cast their ballots. Today, it seems like every candidate is out to get you, one way or another, and there's no good choice to be made. In the 2016 election, people were forced to choose between the lesser of two evils in a highly polarized election: the only question, who was the lesser of the two evils? (Answer: Neither, vote for a third-party candidate.) Wouldn't it be nice if we could return to a bipartisan era when people could feel good about going to the polls?

Today, we'd like to take a closer look at one of the most infamous presidents in history: Richard Nixon. Undoubtedly, you've heard of him — he was the only president ever to resign (and… — Read full post

Reasonable And Prudent — Speed Doesn't Kill, Speed Limits Do

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  critique policy

11 min read | 3234 words | 864 views | 0 comments

It's a common belief that speed limits are designed to keep us safe. Few of us like to heed them, but we believe they exist to keep us safe and thus grudgingly abide by them, because we believe they are there for our own good. A closer look at the facts, however, will put this misconception to rest.

The truth is: speed limits do not keep you safe. If anything, they put you at greater risk of being involved in a fatal car accident.

To better understand this, let's consider the case of the only state that until recently had no speed limits (more or less): Montana.

For a long time, Montana held the honor of being the only state with no daytime speed limits. Many can recall when Montana had no maximum speed other than driving in a “reasonable and prudent” manner:… — Read full post

Local School District disregards health in stunning move

Posted by Contributor

  critique education health tech

2 min read | 408 words | 675 views | 0 comments

Article as it ran in The Waukesha Freeman (page 5A)

West High School administration announced this year that the district's cellphone policy, No. 5136, had been relaxed to allow students to use cellphones during lunch and in between classes. While the district says it aims to provide "safe and secure" Internet access and Policy 7540 promises safeguards inhibiting negative side effects, its IT department has been fiercely deploying wireless technology in all K-12 learning environments, despite studies confirming too much technology leads to drops in test scores and retention. Two classes unanimously said they didn't like using tablets for education, although some admitted they enticed gaming.

Policy 7434 says "the negative health effects of tobacco are we… — Read full post

A Professional Perspective: Kari’s Law

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  critique policy telecom

8 min read | 2303 words | 931 views | 0 comments

On December 1, 2013, Kari Rene Hunt was murdered by her estranged husband whom she was intending to divorce. She agreed to meet him at a local motel to leave their children with him for a short visitation while he was in town. Her estranged husband ambushed her in the motel room and cornered her in the restroom. During the struggle and resulting death of Kari, her oldest daughter, age 9, (name withheld for privacy) attempted to dial 911 from the motel room phone. She followed instructions as taught by her mother on the way to call for help but she was never instructed that in some hotels and motels you must first dial a “9” and then 911.

This is the beginning of … — Read full post

Steve Jobs — Hero or Hater?

Posted by Contributor


3 min read | 608 words | 652 views | 0 comments

Steve Jobs is regarded by many as one of America's technology pioneers, credited with his success at Apple. Nobody will deny that his legacy is a great one or that he didn't innovate constantly, but some of the deepest and darkest secrets of Steve Jobs may turn some of his biggest fans against him. Steve Jobs has throughout the years, maintained a close bond with Bill Gates, founded of Microsoft, the world's largest software company and the most powerful technology company of all-time. Jobs dreamt of stealing that title from Microsoft, and although it failed and is unlikely to ever do so in the future, Apple has uncovered a niche of its own under the leadership of Steve Jobs. What few people realize is the malicious nature and evil sense of humor that Steve Jobs was sometimes known to p… — Read full post