Saturday, June 11, 2011

Micropayments please

Like I said over 5 years ago, I wish the internet had a good micropayment system (not controlled by evil companies that claim to be our pal) that allows people to pay in amounts of 1-99 cents in a couple of clicks, without security risks or giving away any personal information. Clearly, millions of individuals and businesses could directly benefit. Getting people to click a couple of times to donate 25 cents is a heck of a lot easier than getting them to input their credit card number or to log in to PayPal. So why hasn't it happened yet?

I have no idea. I'm just thinking out loud. I wonder if it could somehow be built around that Bitcoin thingy (I'm sure it could, but I'd be more impressed to see it based on "normal" currency, I think.)

Anyway, hey, good news in the the Thomas Drake case. I hear he won't face 35 years in prison for accidentally still having copies of a classified document or two in his basement, or whatever it was. Yay. (Link 2)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Bradley Manning is Still Screwed

I heard a rumor (I forget where) that Bradley Manning (alleged leaker of the Collateral Murder videos and a large number of confidential government documents) is no longer being tortured, but my Google News search isn't turning up a confirmation. Instead it appears that President Obama decided to let the 23-hour-per-day solitary confinement and daily nude inspections to continue, even though Pfc. Manning has not been convicted of any crime:
Obama registered his approval of Manning’s torture in characteristically vague and noncommittal terms: “I’ve actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures … are appropriate. They assured me they are.”
He's been in solitary confinement for about a year now. You should ask yourself this question: can you imagine living in solitary confinement for a year? You sure as hell can't. Like the distance between stars, I think it is simply beyond the power of the human imagination. Maybe if you've been in solitary for a couple months you could start to imagine it. But normal people cannot.

To be sure, I wouldn't call for his release. If he did what he is accused of doing then it's probably very illegal and some sort of punishment is to be expected. But what his captors have done is worse: inflicting an unconstitutionally harsh punishment on an individual who has not even had a trial yet. It's a clear case of "setting an example". They know the punishment is unreasonable and illegal, but they do it to send a message to anyone else who would consider leaking confidential documents to the public.

Their message is this: You will suffer a fate worse than death. Being an American citizen offers no protection. We don't need enough evidence for a trial. And no amount of protestors can help you.

Spanish Quick Reference updated

I just updated the "Referencia Rápida de Español" to v2.11. Again, sorry about the dumb filename, I can't control it. Anyway, I just added some stars (*) on some homonyms, and added a couple of new "short phrases" (deleting a couple of less important "reverse verbs" to make room):

It makes sense. = Tiene sentido.
I don't understand. = No entiendo.
..that which (what).. = ..lo que..

Perhaps the last one needs explanation. You'll see the word-combo "lo que" sometimes. It's used as a connector that usually translates as "what" in English. However, the English word "what" should not be translated as "lo que" unless it can be replaced with "that which". For example, "What are you doing?" translates as "¿Qué haces?", not "¿Lo que haces?" because "That which you are doing?" makes no sense. However, the sentence "I want what I want" translates to "Quiero lo que quiero" because "I want that which I want" does make sense and means the same thing. ¿Entiendes? (You understand?)

I wonder if I should write some more blog entries about some of the interesting/important bits of Spanish grammar I have learned. For instance I could explain the preterite tense and reflexive verbs better now. I could also explain why you don't really have to learn about "strong" and "weak" vowels.

Also, under verb chains: I try to see = Trato de ver.