Mike Rowe, United Airlines and Real Leadership

After that infamous United Airlines debacle, someone on Facebook asked Mike Rowe what he thought.

Unfortunately, he missed the mark.  (Large quote follows to ensure the context is accurate.)

But the facts are clear: if you want to travel by air, you must agree to do what you’re told. If you don’t, you subject yourself to fine, arrest, constraint, forcible removal, and/or a permanent ban from the friendly skies. It’s all there in the fine print.

Personally, I support this policy. I support it because I don’t want to fly across the country in a steel tube filled with people who get to decide which rules they will follow and which they will ignore. I’ve been on too many flights with too many angry people to worry about the specific circumstances of their outrage, or the details of why they took it upon themselves to ignore a direct command. A plane is not a democracy, and the main cabin is no place to organize a sit-in. The main cabin is a place to follow orders.

The problem I have with this is simple.  Today’s leaders and authority figures, whether they are airline pilots, police or government officials, have forgotten one key component of leadership.  TRUST

I will gladly follow leaders when I know they are trustworthy.  Back in the “Good Ol’ Days”, flight crew were considered to be authoritative and customer focused.  Airplanes weren’t as reliable, so you knew you were putting yourself at risk by flying, but you had confidence that the crew cared about your comfort and safety.  In those days, if they had space issues on a plane, they would give you royal treatment for cooperating.  In the case of Doctor Dao, his wife was apparently also on the plane.  Was she also asked to leave?

You want me to follow your orders, then you need to earn my respect and my trust.  If you are in uniform, airlines or otherwise, you start out with a default amount of respect and trust, because of that uniform.  However, your actions are what I will be watching, to ensure my safety and the safety of my family and fellow passengers.  A plane may not be a democracy, but the main cabin is no place to turn loose your untrained dogs of war.  That is exactly what United Airlines did that day.

Where is there freedom from extremists?

I am going through a period of political party discontent.  I’ve always considered myself to be a conservative, joking that I was a little to the right of Attila the Hun.  However, recent years have strained that relationship.  Many of the key leaders on all sides seem to be using tactics based on bullying the public, via a supportive media, to get what they want… irregardless of the consequences.

1. As a Vietnam Veteran, I have an aversion to War, which has led to strong revulsion against many of the so-called Conservative leaders.  They all seem to be fully in support of the military-industrial complex and continuous war.

2. As a Christian, I have an aversion to the small government people, who don’t seem to care who gets hurt in the endless war on governmental services, while at the same time they defend an imbalanced tax system that burdens the most needy, while giving bonuses to those who are already blessed.

My problem is simple.  Every party seems to be running under the control of extremist.  Where do I turn?

These two articles echo my questions, except I cannot accept their conclusions.

Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer a Leftist

I was poor, but a GOP die-hard: How I finally left the politics of shame

Why Am I Moving Left?

Call them John Doe

A comment about the latest Mall shooting got me thinking. The dummy with the gun wrote that he would be remembered for his actions. Too often someone tries to become famous by doing something evil, thus gaining themselves a place in infamy.

Here is my thought. Why don’t we stop naming them, in the media, in books and on TV, with their real names, but assign them a nondescript alias, a John Doe, to deny them a distinctive place in history. The key would be to never, ever refer to them by name in the media, except by their alias.

“Today, it was reported that the John Doe who shot his friend also posted a journal entry announcing his attentions…”

We could setup a web site to disambiguate the various John Does, to allow researchers to tie specific information to the correct person. Thus, instead of discussing Charles Manson, we could discuss JohnDoe19341112, using his birth date as a key.

Let’s deny them their place in infamy, and add them to an anonymous collection of losers.

Why do we support copyrights?

The original purpose of the copyright was “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” was the first stated purpose of U.S. copyright. The U.S. Constitution ratified in 1788 proposed to do that “by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The first U.S. copyright law, passed in 1790, protected books, maps, and charts if they were created by residents or citizens of the United States. The term of their exclusive right was a mere 14 years, with the right of renewal for 14 more.

See:  The Real Purpose of Copyright

Since only about 4 per cent of copyrighted works more than 20 years old are commercially available, this locks up 96 per cent of 20th century culture to benefit 4 per cent. The harm to the public is huge, the benefit to authors, tiny. In any other field, the officials responsible would be fired. Why not the government legislature members who passed the bills?

FT.com / Comment & analysis / Columnists – James Boyle: Deconstructing stupidity

MMORPG – Lack of Repeatability is the Real Problem

There are a lot of opinions about what makes the various MMORPG games enjoyable, but one area that I haven’t seen discussed is what I call Repeatability. By repeatabilty, I’m referring to the ability to start multiple, new characters and enjoy playing them.

I believe that was a factor of the success of the original Everquest (EQ1), but that it is missing in most of the current MMORPGs, including the current version of EQ1. Of the various games that I have played, the worse example when it came to repeatabilty was Everquest II (EQ2). Once you brought one character up to level 20, all characters with the same starting city basically ran all of the same quests, over and over again. Thus, there were only two tracks to level 20, the Qeynos one and the Freeport one. Except for a single thread of class related quests, everything was the same for every character you created. (Note: I have not played EQ2 since the massive restructuring of character creation, so I can’t comment on the current state of the game.)

Sony has really gone for canned scripts for starting characters. Star Wars Galaxies now has the space station quests and EQI now has the Mines of Gloomingdeep. In both cases, unless you have the money to support taking short cuts, the optimal way to raise a character is to follow the script.

When I first played Everquest, every new character was a new experience. They had separate starting cities and quests. Learning your way around Faydark, Qeynos Hills or, later on, Cabilis, was challenging and fun. Unfortunately, game play has evolved to the point where everyone seems to know the best places to level and travel is so trivial that you see level one gnomes hunting the ice canyons of Everfrost Peaks.

Of course, I need to mention Word of Warcraft. Of all the current games I have tried, it seems closest to being repeatable. It’s not that it doesn’t have fixed quests, it just that both sides have at least three starting points, with a collection of zones to level in. When you create a new character, you aren’t restricted to one starting series. You can jump back and forth to the other starting regions to vary your experience.

And, that is the key. You need to be able to have a relatively new, enjoyable experience when you start a new character. Given that it is quite common for someone to decide that they really chose the wrong class with their first character, starting a second character in the same starting city is normal. I probably started at least two dozen characters, on a half dozen different servers — to play with different friends — over the six years I played EQ1.

It was fun in the beginning, because I spent a lot of time exploring. Exploring the region around the starting city, discover quests and experimenting with class play styles. It was fun. After six years, there isn’t much of EQ1 left to explore at the lower levels, so I’ve been looking at other games. So far, WoW is the only one that has held my interest for more that a few months.

I am looking for a MMORPG where it is fun to try different characters.
I am looking for a MMORPG where leveling / crafting is not a job.
I am looking for a MMORPG where it is OK not to be UBER.

If you find such an MMORPG, let me know.


Multiple characters over level 20 in EQ1, EQ2, WoW, SWG and Horizon, but not one at the level cap in any of those games.

Vendor Warning Signs

Over at CIO Update, Henry Newman writes about Vendor Warning Signs.

“There are warning signs that buyers of technology should be aware of before they buy technology from any company. These signs are not absolutes, but when combined with other factors, you might want to look elsewhere, or at least wait and see what happens before buying technology from that company. Hopefully you’ll be able to apply them to some of the storage and server vendors from whom you’re considering buying products.”

One point in the article relates to financial issues;

Financial Issues – This is generally the easiest one to spot Ã?— at least for publicly-traded companies.

Non-public companies are particularly hard to value. They usually don’t publish their financial data because, in most cases, they are not required to. But their credit records, however, can be obtained through Dun & Bradstreet for a nominal fee.

A purchasing agent I know did this once for a vendor, while negotiating a long-term contract. The vendor’s record was abysmal, indicating the vendor might not be around long enough to support the contract. So he said to the engineer, “No way in heck are we doing this.”

CSS a Mail Security Issue?

Reading some e-mail with the Horde Project’s [horde.org] webmail reader, I was surprised to see all of the CSS style statements from the header of an html e-mail message visible, instead of interpreted. A quick look at the source showed the following, interesting, header statement.

<cleaned_tag type=”text/css”>

What, you may ask, is a “cleaned_tag”? It appears that there is, to my eyes, an undocumented feature of the Horde webmail interface. Any heading tags that are related to “blatant security holes” [google.com] are cleaned by renaming them. Thus, <style> becomes <cleaned_tag>.

I was not able to find a post indicating “Why?” the <style> tag is considered a security hole, but I am still looking. The only thing I can find that appears to be related is a discussion of a HOTMAIL CSS issued. Hotmail Security Hole: False Alarm? [tnl.net] published back in February of 2001. In it, they state, “by using cascading style sheets (CSS), hackers could easily replicate the look and feel of Web-based mail packages, leaving the user unaware of the fact that they have a problem.”

All I know, is that I would expect such a “blatant security hole” to be more widely discussed.

Government Regulation of Digital Media

According to the EFF, on Tuesday, January 24th, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold hearings on government regulation of digital media in the form of the broadcast flag and the audio flag. But even before the committee hears the arguments, Hollywood lobbyists have already planned the results. Drafts are being passed around Congress by Senator Gordon Smith (D-OR) of a “Digital Content Protection Act” that would make both flags laws at a stroke.

This bill would usher in a new world of anti-consumer electronics, and a chance for the MPAA’s and RIAA’s member companies to seize even greater control over all media distribution and use.

Join the EFF Action Center and help prevent this travesty.

See: Hollywood Plants Its Flags In Our Homes for more information.

U.S. Government led ICANN to redeligate top level domains

The Register has an article about U.S. Government backed policy changes that have led ICANN to redeligate top level domains in such a way as to provide “greater state-controlled censorship on the internet, reduce people’s ability to use the internet to communicate freely, and leave expansion of the internet in the hands of the people least capable of doing the job”

More from the article: “At that meeting, consciously and for the first time, ICANN used a US government-provided reason to turn over Kazakhstan’s internet ownership to a government owned and run association without requiring consent from the existing owners. The previous owners, KazNIC, had been created from the country’s Internet community. ICANN then immediately used that ‘precedent’ to hand ownership of Iraq’s internet over to another government-run body, without accounting for any objections that the existing owners might have.”

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