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JRFOpinion Mine

Why would I want to read Jeremy's opinion?
You wouldn't, go away.

What will the opinions be about?
Anything I want.  Why are you still here?  Go away!

Who is Jeremy?
Absolutely no one.  I'll be dead some time before 2040.  By 2140, no one anywhere will remember my name or anything about me, not even my relative descendents.  You won't care then, you won't care now.  There are a billion other pages on the Internet, please go find one... just go away.

Why are you telling me to go away?  Don't you want me to read you opinions?
No.

Is this a cheap attempt at reverse psychology?
Yes.  Now... go away!

What if I don't like Jeremy's opinions?
Don't read them.  Forget them.  Go elsewhere.  Seek therapy and/or counseling.  On the other hand, why not write me?  I welcome feedback and comments and will be very happy to publish other people's opinions, comments or counter-points of/to the things I write here.  Let me know what you think via my e-mail address.  Otherwise... (you guessed it) go away!

 older ramblings are here: Opinionomy

Trusting Mr. Anonymous

Note: the thoughts that became this article were sparked by the infamous Bill Gates "Trustworthy Computing" memo to all Microsoft employees.  You can read it here (Wired) or here (ZDNet).  What I have written is not intended as a rebuttable or as an argument for or against anything Microsoft.

Analogies always have flaws, but for the virtual world of networks and programming, analogy is the only way to achieve perspective. We all RELY on our highways and roads for daily life. Whether it is a trucker with cargo, an armored car, a family minivan, or a dream-machine bound for Sturgis, we RELY on our highways. But does anyone besides me notice that we don't have our roadways bound up with security? The highways are not lined with barbed wire and guards. The toll ways do not require 'papers', IDs, and security checks. Our vehicles don’t have retinal scan locks for access. Yet these highways are the ubiquitous travel-ways of the country and the world. They are the arteries of business, but more importantly, [dramatic pause] they transport life - not numbers, words, codes and precious documents - they transport LIFE; wetware; the embodiment of achievement, passion, and creativity!

Now stop and ask yourself two questions, 1) why are we casual and accepting of the (fallacy of) safety and security on the roads? and 2) how do we justify the irony of placing top-level focus, initiative, and [gasp] money on making computing trustworthy and secure - to an unheard of level of perfection? But we ignore the need in commuting? We live in a world where chaos propels mankind forward, yet we accept the chaos of the roadways as imperfect and uncontrollable - and so be it?! Millions of lives are at stake every moment on the roadways. Hundreds (thousands?) of lives are lost every day on the roads. Yet the media makes it seem that our national priority is increasing the reliability of the movement of digital information? 

They say money is the root of all evil. Well I don't believe in evil, but money certainly dictates an influence that certainly favors the few. I ask you - why is it more important to achieve the final .001% perfection to move 'bits', than to focus on the more obvious, yet almost overlooked areas that are costing lives? 

Then again, I must admit, that is not my real point here. I'll go one step further. What is the difference between the hacker who breaks in to a company and deletes a bunch of vital business records, and the guy who throws a large box of tire-puncturing nails in to a busy intersection? I am not talking about the intent, the gravity of the crime, or even the comparative destruction and/or life threat. I am not talking about what they have accomplished or why. What matters here are ability, accessibility and accountability. Everyone has access to nails. Anyone can approach the busy intersection. In contrast, only a comparatively tiny percentage of the population has the knowledgebase to hack in to a company using computers. Putting the seriousness and consequences of the crimes aside, why are we *not* worried about the person with the nails, yet we *are* worried about the hacker? Here, it seems to me, is the heart of the matter; identity. 

When we can be identified, we are inherently deterred from aberrant (abhorrent? [grin]) social behavior. It is not logical to expect to ‘get away with’ the box-of-nails stunt, yet the nature of computers (so far) allows for an assumed level of anonymity. The simple fact (of my humble opinion) is that we have pushed the identity aspect of privacy on the net too far. By allowing the perception of anonymity, we encourage aberrant behavior. I believe we can have privacy AND identity, exactly the way we do in real life. Individuals commit crimes when they believe they will not get caught. They take a risk. Somebody famous said something like “character is what we do when people are not looking”. I don’t believe that punishment (the threat there-of) deters crime. I believe ensuring identification would prevent the vast majority of people from a lot of… bad things. 

Laws, the media, and public opinion do a great job of keeping businesses (groups of people) from doing wrong. Only reliable identification can prevent an individual from their next socially unacceptable action. I like my privacy and have no desire to give up freedom either. But I would be proud to live in a world where my identity could be verified and held accountable. I am positive we will get there; it just kills me to see the billions being burned to achieve unreasonable solutions to things that are problems, but not the heart of the matter. I don’t believe in perfection; but one way or another, things are getting better. Thanks to chaos, it seems that it just does not always happen along the most logical or economical path. Who am I? I am a man not afraid to let you know that I am Jeremy Farrance. Although I admit, I do get a lot of spam.

Let me know what you think and I will respond or add it here.

 - Jeremy Farrance, January 24, 2002

Teachers

Teachers are not paid enough.  Teachers are not respected enough.  Teachers no longer have the authority (legally, supportively, or accountably) to do their job properly.  Not all teachers are good at what they do.  Many of them are simply amazing!  Many teachers new, experienced and old, make less than $30,000 a year.  Some make less than $20k/year.  This is a crime.  These are the people responsible for the education of our children.  On average they spend more time each weekday with our children than we do...

Teachers show us how to turn on our flashlights, how to use our compass.  Not many of us will ever make it beyond the horizon.  Without teachers, none of us would.

 - Jeremy Farrance, September 11, 2000

A Question from a Friend

Friend: Have you ever thought that maybe everything that you think you know is not actually known at all?  What if tomorrow you woke up and all the rules that govern the universe have changed and everything you thought was true is now false and everything you thought was false is now true?

Jeremy: That happens to me every day.  "They" call it perception.  Perception gives free license to flip the True/False at random... and often creates logic that previously did not exist.  Of course, I use the term "logic" lightly.  Logic, nowadays, seems to mean that something makes quick, on-the-surface, perceptive sense.  To me, "common sense" is akin insanity.  Something obviously wrong is made right and proved.  Beautiful becomes ugly.  Insulting inverts and becomes funny...  That is basically why I walk around with a look of utter disbelief on my face most of the time.  I must have  let myself get stuck in a moment and have somehow missed out on a lot of the polarity changes.

To jump in to the bigger picture here, my favorite example is the Butter vs Margarine debate.  There is plenty to read on this subject but I will just direct you to 2 quick examples.  1) Margarine is better.  2) Butter is better (and for fun, an anti-margarine vent - and I won't even get in to the latest trend which is claiming that both are bad).  Neither one of those articles is very good or convincing (skeptically speaking, they are tragically flawed and easily nit-picked), but it is enough to make my point.  Which is that just about anyone can do a damn good job justifying both (differing) sides of any issue in the modern age.  Why doesn't politics work in America anymore?  Simple, because both sides "sound" right and logical and believable, and by our nature we only allow ourselves to listen to the side of the story that convinces us first.

But really, this is a huge subject that I could go on about for hours... I probably will.  Check back if you are interested.  Let me know what you think and I will respond or add it here.

 - Jeremy Farrance, August, 2001 (updated May 18, 2002)

Talking Back

I work in the IS/IT and Internet industry and I read a lot.  On a few occasions I have managed to comment on articles and cast my opinion in to the fray.  Here are the ones that are still readable.

February 29, 2000
Article on ZDNet: Here's Who Should Take a Flying Leap
My response: Doubleclick is the Worst by a Wide Margin

February 7, 2000
Article on ZDNet: Why Sun and Microsoft Won't Let You Have a Wired Home
My response: I Thought We Were All Just Sheep

January 25, 2000
Article on ZDNet: Whistling A New Windows Tune
My response: Pollster Driven Software Development

September 10, 1999
Article on ZDNet: Web Site Dirty Tricks
My response: What exactly is the problem with new browser windows?

August 12, 1999
Article on ZDNet: Meet new Amiga: Not like old Amiga
My response: William Shatner Says Get a Life

 

(c) 2001 by Jeremy Farrance, All Rights Reserved, Feedback and Inquiries: jeremy@farrance.net