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Name Marco Von Ballmoos
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Home page http://earthli.com/users/marco
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The (only) developer at earthli.com.

Contents

2438 Articles
99 Comments

Two Days Ago

Living in the Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler (2020; read in 2020)

Published on in Books

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe (1842; read in 2020)

Published on in Books

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs (1959; read in 2020)

Published on in Books

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]

6 days Ago

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2020.10

Published on in Movies

These are my notes to remember what I watched and kinda what I thought about it. I’ve recently transferred my reviews to IMDb and made the list of around 1400 ratings publicly available. I’ve included the individual ratings with my notes for each movie. These ratings are not absolutely comparable to each other—I rate the film on how well it suited me for the genre and my mood and. let’s be honest, level of intoxication. YMMV. Also, I make no attempt to avoid spoilers.

Battlestar Galactica:... [More]

2 weeks Ago

Free Julian Assange

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.[1]
George Orwell

The article The Assange Extradition Case is an Unprecedented Attack on Press Freedom, So Why’s the Media Largely Ignoring It? by Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) describes what is happening to Julian Assange.

“In an Old Bailey courtroom in London over the past four weeks, lawyers for the US government have sought the extradition of Assange to the US to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 and one charge of computer misuse. At the heart of their... [More]”

A Video on Justice by ContraPoints

Published on in Miscellaneous

The presentation in this video is both unorthodox and well-produced; the information is top-notch and interesting. It discusses justice not as found in courts, but as found online, where it is meted out by the self-nominated and righteous.

Justice (Part 1) by ContraPoints (YouTube)

From the video above,

“I’m not going to comment because I don’t want to be canceled for seeming to take a neutral stance on an issue on which I’m supposed to take sides.”

Speaking of which, I’d only recently discovered ContraPoints when I watched... [More]

Edward Snowden interview with Joe Rogan (September

Published on in Miscellaneous

For the second time in a year, Joe Rogan interviews Edward Snowden for about three hours. The last time, Snowden was promoting his book Permanent Record; this time, he’s here to drop more knowledge about the U.S. and the world work—just in time for the election. The interview is well-worth the time.

Joe Rogan Experience #1536 − Edward Snowden (YouTube)

The U.S. Department Of Justice had also very recently found that the NSA had acted illegally. This does not exonerate Snowden from the crimes with which he’s accused, but does prove that when... [More]

Jimmy Dore watches Obama at the DNC

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The video below is a 30-minute analysis of Obama’s short speech at the DNC that provides context from how Obama actually ruled when he was president.

OBAMA Says 'Nobody Is Above the Law'! by Jimmy Dore (YouTube)

I laughed out loud at Dore’s riff on Obama’s continued characterization of America’s torture as “enhanced”, starting at about 4:30,

“That’s my favorite: enhanced interrogation technique. Enhanced? That sounds like it’s nice. Are you going to turn on some mood music and some track lighting?

“No. We’re going to hook your balls up to a car battery... [More]”

Discussing issues == unduly influencing elections

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The article The First Rule of Court Packing is you do not talk about Court Packing by Josh Blackman (Reason) discusses the recent presidential debate.

When Biden was asked about ending the filibuster or packing the court (two highly relevant election issues), he responded,

“Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue. The issue is the American people should speak. You should go out and vote. You’re voting now. Vote and let your Senators know strongly how you feel.”

What the hell does that even mean? I... [More]

What Drives Trump?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The article The Death of Debate by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) describes what makes Trump tick in what I think is a far more accurate and reasoned manner than most people seem to be able to muster.

I would like to preface (and will re-address in the summary), that it’s pretty clear that Trump is not alone in his motivations. He is just a very extreme example. While there are many U.S. politicians who are interested in doing what they perceive as good for others, many of the most powerful are very clearly in the business... [More]

Modern News Media is a Business

Published on in Miscellaneous

The article The Post-Objectivity Era by Matt Taibbi (SubStack) is based on the transcript of a speech he gave.[1] It is an excellent summary of both the history of U.S. media and its current business model.

The basic thrust is that the media has always been in it for the money. There is no golden age of principled objectivity to which to return, in that sense. The news was more objective in olden days, but only because it made more sense to be that way. The media catered to the broadest possible audience for two reasons:

... [More]

3 weeks Ago

Definitions of Diplomacy

Published on in Quotes

I recently saw two definitions of diplomacy that I liked very much. I’ve included them below with the original attributions and have made no effort to ascertain their accuracy. I think the quotes stand on their own, regardless of who is purported to have said them.

“Diplomacy is the art of building ladders to allow people to climb down gracefully.”
Otto von Bismarck
“Diplomacy is the art of telling someone to go to hell in such a manner that they look forward to the trip.”
Churchill

Book Recommendations for a Friend (July 2020)

Published on in Books

I found a list of book recommendations I’d made for a friend, tailored to his interests. I’ve republished it here with some minor edits, in case anyone else is interested. The title links to my review and notes.

This is a partial list of books I’ve read since 2013 that I think you might be interested in. I’ve included links to my reviews/notes/citations, if that helps.

I’ve tried to break it up into rough groups. Many straddle categories. They’re all good, but some are work and some are fun.
... [More]

Mail-in Voting in the US

Published on in Miscellaneous

COVID-19 has made mail-in voting more relevant than ever for US elections. In other countries, this would not be an issue, as mail-in voting doesn’t pose any particular technical, organizational, or bureaucratic hassles or threaten to lead to widespread disenfranchisement. Those are normal countries, like Switzerland, where a majority of the population votes by mail about five times per year.

The US is different: even the simplest tasks become difficult for a nation afraid to commit to... [More]

Amazon Book Recommendations getting weirder

Published on in Books

I was recently inspired to write about my Kindle’s odd recommendations. Since then, I’ve gotten several more—with seemingly rapidly decreasing quality.

Lady from the Stars

 Lady from the Stars

“A woman from another planet crashes on Earth. Her foes track her and plan to enslave Earth. Can she stop them and save Earth and the man she loves?”

I’m going to guess that the author is simultaneously responsible for the cover art and the blurb. If the prose in the book measures up to the quality of the blurb, then... [More]

Corruption in the US

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

This video from 2015 takes only five minutes to present the results of a Princeton University study of 20 years of data to determine the amount of influence an American had on which laws were enacted. Regardless of whether Americans were completely against or completely for a policy, there was a 30% chance of it being enacted. From the study:

“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy. ”

 It seems... [More]

Memory

Published on in Quotes

“Maybe the greatest miracle is memory”
Brian Doyle


Found in the article Two Poems by Michael Garrigan (ecotheoreview). Both are quite nice. I had to look up Thomas Merton.

 

A surfeit of unearned confidence

Published on in Quotes

“You suffer from the arrogance of ignorance.”
The Man in the High Castle

Fortune-telling

Published on in Quotes

“Yours is like all fortunes, Shadow: opaque on arrival, inevitable in retrospect.”
Wednesday (American Gods S01E01)

Soft tyranny

Published on in Quotes

Life in the 21st century is all about the soft tyranny of lowered expectations.

By all means

Published on in Quotes

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
Napoleon Bonaparte


Whether Napoleon actually said it or not is immaterial.

 

1 month Ago

New Weather Station

Published on in Design

 My old weather station finally died. I’d inherited it about 25 years ago from a good friend in New York. It came from my apartment in Kew Gardens to Switzerland, where it was first mounted in my kitchen and then office for many years.

The cord was covered with electrical tape from several incidents involving my first rabbit Oz. After a dozen more years, the plastic casing on the wire leading to the outside thermometer had become very brittle—especially after years of being shut into the... [More]