Programming And Politics

I’ve recently gotten interested in Wiimote programming for the PC. One of the things that has definitely piqued my interest is Johnny Chung Lee’s amazing work with homebrew Wiimote applications (Lee is a graduate student at CMU).

I recently decided to play with the relatively simple GlovePIE software, written by Carl Kenner (no linkie for a reason). I opened up the ReadMe to learn how to get started. So my jaw dropped when I saw this:

You may not export this software to Israel, or use it in Israel (including the occupied territories), until Israel has ended its occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and anywhere else it may occupy. If you try to run it in Israel it will give you an error.

On his actual website: You may not use this software on military bases, or for military purposes, or in Israel (which amounts to the same thing). Violation of the license agreement will be prosecuted.


I believe that the author has the right to put whatever conditions and restrictions he wants on his software, however uninformed and misguided. And I doubt any court of law would prosecute an Israeli for using his software. But it goes without saying that I’m not going to use this thing. And that I’m seriously disappointed about that.

At least, by wearing his nutty politics on his sleeve, I know not to support his work in any way (not even linking to it on my blog). I’m sure there are plenty of other projects that I do like and I do support authored by someone who reads The Protocols of the Elders of Zion every night as a bedtime story. Maybe I’d just rather not know…


P.S. This is not news – GlovePIE has had such language in its license for years. But it’s news to me :-) And as the Wiimote is becoming more popular, GlovePIE is becoming more visible.

New Favorite Word

That would be disfluency: it’s the formal linguistic word for the um’s and uh’s that we have in our day to day speech. “You know” and “like” are other common American disfluencies (different cultures have different disfluencies). There’s actually a recent Saturday Night Live skit which was basically a guy who could only speak in disfluencies. Funnier than it sounds :-)

Via Powerset, which was via Wired.


p.s. Also, ummmm… never mind, whatever.

DNA Testing and Healthcare

Wired Magazine has an article about “decoding your DNA”. The company 23AndMe will, for a grand, “take a sample of your DNA, scan it, and tell you about your genetic future, as well as your ancestral past”.

There’s obviously a long-term concern about a Gattaca-like scenario (gene discrimination). But in the short term, is it possible that health insurance companies will make gene testing mandatory to apply for coverage? They already exclude pre-existing conditions in many cases. Now they can deny you coverage for a disease you never had, but are slightly more predisposed to (assuming you get coverage in the first place)!

So this technology has the potential to significantly reduce coverage at a time when America is already suffering from too little coverage. The system has to change drastically before this technology becomes prevalent.


p.s. I didn’t even address privacy concerns. Legally speaking, if you are covered through your employer, the plan’s administrator is not allowed to discuss your health records with the employment decision makers (AFAIK, IANAL). But as someone pointed out to me, people talk off the record all the time…

p.p.s. If you haven’t seen Michael Moore’s Sicko, you really should, even if, like me, you don’t like the guy. I prefer to debate based on the merits of an argument, not the person making them.