mm207: Shorter attention span blogging

November 28, 2007

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MUDGE’S Musings

One of those days today, where nothing and everything is intriguing. All of these appeared this week in the NYTimes.

nytimes

Freud Is Widely Taught at Universities, Except in the Psychology Department

By PATRICIA COHEN

PSYCHOANALYSIS and its ideas about the unconscious mind have spread to every nook and cranny of the culture from Salinger to “South Park,” from Fellini to foreign policy. Yet if you want to learn about psychoanalysis at the nation’s top universities, one of the last places to look may be the psychology department.

A new report by the American Psychoanalytic Association has found that while psychoanalysis — or what purports to be psychoanalysis — is alive and well in literature, film, history and just about every other subject in the humanities, psychology departments and textbooks treat it as “desiccated and dead,” a historical artifact instead of “an ongoing movement and a living, evolving process.”

The study, which is to appear in the June 2008 issue of The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, is the latest evidence of the field’s existential crisis. For decades now, critics engaged in the Freud Wars have pummeled the good doctor’s theories for being sexist, fraudulent, unscientific, or just plain wrong. In their eyes, psychoanalysis belongs with discarded practices like leeching.

But to beleaguered psychoanalysts who have lost ground to other forms of therapy that promise quicker results through cheaper and easier methods, the report underscores pressing questions about the relevance of their field and whether it will survive as a practice.

Are there stranger institutions than today’s U.S. colleges and universities?

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Freud Is Widely Taught at Universities, Except in the Psychology Department – New York Times

And yet. One sentence does stick with one…

“Some of the most important things in human life are just not measurable,” he said, like happiness or genuine religious feeling.

I’ll think about that one for a while (or at least until something distracts me!).

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And now for something completely different…

MUDGE has a love-hate relationship with his cable company. I suspect that many people share this feeling (and perhaps it’s not measurable).

Cable TV is terrific, if spendy. Cable internet is breathtakingly quick, especially if one is capable of remembering the dim dark dial-up days.

But, cable is a monopoly in most markets, only now facing serious competition. In television, the satellite people compete well, assuming you can place the dish effectively. But they’ve never offered a serious internet connection solution. Cable internet is a serious internet connection solution.

POTS, as embodied in the modern successors (Verizon and the new AT&T) to the Justice Department eviscerated AT&T — Ma Bell to we rickety old folks — can offer reasonably quick internet access (if you are located close enough to the central station, or some sucker has granted POTS an easement for a repeater station), but quick only if you compare it to the dial-up it probably replaces. Much slower than cable.

In MUDGE‘s market, the local copper wire phone company has offered bundles that include phone service, DSL internet and satellite television. In response, the cable guys are now offering reasonably inexpensive phone service via cable. In response to that, the phone guys are desperately burying fibre optic lines to reach out to the “last mile,” thereby offering a true high bandwidth choice for internet access, as well as competition for cable-delivered television. An awesome expenditure, and thus far fibre has been limited to a few scattered upscale neighborhoods (i.e., nowhere near casa MUDGE).

Recently, the cable guys have come under increasing scrutiny by the FCC, which believes that cable has abused its monopoly position.

Cable Industry Wins Compromise on F.C.C. Plans

By STEPHEN LABATON

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 — In the face of a lobbying blitzkrieg by the cable television industry, the Federal Communications Commission drastically scaled back Tuesday evening a proposal by the agency’s chairman to more tightly regulate the industry.

The compromise was a significant, though not total, victory for the cable industry, whose executives and lobbyists had worked to erode support on the commission for the agenda of the chairman, Kevin J. Martin. Among other things, the commission agreed to postpone for months the decision Mr. Martin had hoped would be made on Tuesday, over whether the cable television industry had grown so dominant that the agency’s regulatory authority over it should be expanded.

But Mr. Martin and some consumer groups insisted that the decisions by the commission could nonetheless help to make programming more diverse and ultimately reduce cable costs.

One of the new rules adopted on Tuesday, for instance, would make it significantly less expensive for independent programmers to lease channels.

The reasonably outspoken FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin, turned out not to have the votes he counted on to carry the day, and thus allowed the discussion to devolve into a dispute over whose market size numbers were more accurate.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Cable Industry Wins Compromise on F.C.C. Plans – New York Times

So, cable didn’t take the regulatory hit they were fighting off, and most of the U.S. will be unable to see the Packers-Cowboys game on NFL Network this Thursday, as an unregulated cable industry has decided that NFLnet is too expensive for anything but their premium packages.

Sigh.

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L-HC discussed the trend away from paper maps in a post some time ago. Navigation systems based on GPS populate more and more upscale cars. Stand alone personal navigation aids from Garmin and Tom-Tom are advertised heavily during this gifty time of year.

MUDGE‘s newest cellphone, the LG EN-V discussed here before, has a GPS receiver built in, as do most modern cells, and has available a subscription navigation service (for $10 per month) that will provide turn by turn spoken instructions. Very cool, if slightly expensive, until, one supposes, you really need it.

Can Google, that information octopus, be far behind? Certainly not!

Google Doesn’t Know Where You Are (But It Has a Good Guess)

By Saul Hansell

UPDATE: See comment from Google at the end.

Users of Blackberries and many other smartphones can now push a button and the Google mapping service will figure out more or less sort of where they are.

Last month, I wrote a post called “One Reason We Need a Google Phone: Free GPS.” I was complaining that cellphone carriers, mainly Verizon, are disabling the GPS navigation systems built into phones so they can charge $10 a month for the service. I posited that a Google phone wouldn’t have such a nasty gotcha. (Actually, in Google’s very open model for its Android operating system, carriers and phone makers are free to put as many gotchas as they want into phones.)

Of course, what everyone leaps to be concerned about is privacy — Google, Big Brother, Homeland Security, etc. has yet another way of pinpointing one’s location.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Google Doesn’t Know Where You Are (But It Has a Good Guess) – Bits – Technology – New York Times Blog

Face it folks, what is GPS in the phones for, if not to let a public agency locate you. It’s called Wireless Enhanced 911.

I guess the concern is that one might well be locatable even if one hasn’t declared an emergency.

We’re heading there folks. London has what, 2,000,000 video cameras blanketing the streets, and big cities in the U.S. are following suit as fast as they can afford to. Indeed, in MUDGE‘s not so big city, he passes such a camera, apparently monitored by the police, almost daily. Often, I wave.

The expectation of privacy is slipping away, and while I’m certain my buds at ACLU are concerned, I just can’t too exercised.

There are 300,000,000 of us after all. The best data miners on the planet will get indigestion trying to mine that.

So I guess I can go back to worrying about the demise of Freudian psychoanalysis.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm118: Overhaul of Air Traffic System Nears Key Step – washingtonpost.com

August 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Those of us victimized by the airlines, airport management, the TSA, too many too small aircraft in the skies (per Patrick Smith, most recently quoted here and here) can find a glimmer of hope in this report:

washingtonpost

Satellite Network Projected to Cut Flight Delays but May Take Years to Complete

By Del Quentin Wilber

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 27, 2007; Page A01

The federal government is expected this week to award a contract worth more than $1 billion to build the key components of its next-generation air traffic control system — a high-tech network that officials say will alleviate chronic flight delays.

The system comes at a critical time, officials say, with flight delays at record levels and commercial aviation expected to continue growing steadily. The network will rely on satellites, rather than radar, to guide aircraft, and it is expected to allow planes to fly closer together and take more direct routes, saving fuel and time while reducing pollution. Government officials say it will also improve safety by giving controllers and pilots more precise information about planes.

An ambitious plan, to be executed of course by the lowest bidder.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Overhaul of Air Traffic System Nears Key Step – washingtonpost.com

And, of course the ADS-B system is controversial in the U.S. (happily adopted in lots of the rest of the world, but what do those gals and guys know about technology, anyway?) — everybody who wants this system in the U.S. wants someone else to pay for it.

And I can’t help but feel, the way the story is written, that the air traffic controllers union feels that should the national system be improved it will come at the expense of employment of controllers. Hey, guys, traffic’s expanding! Jobs for everyone! (Of course, if it’s just a matter of talking on a two-way satellite radio, and looking at a screen, the everyones might be working out of their homes in Bengaluru, or Shanghai, but that’s details.)

Of course, this writer will probably be more concerned about a different variety of wings by the year 2020 (if alive, I’ll only be 18 years away from retirement!), but we can all dream, can’t we?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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