First Generation Earthling MixTape #6



uTorrent Bloatware, Spyware, and Malware

My version of uTorrent just advised me to upgrade, from to  I noticed a wide variety of unfavorable aspects of the upgrade/installation.  I wanted to post it here and see if anyone else has noticed the same.

IMHO, uTorrent has totally jumped the shark.  This used to be my go-to BitTorrent client.  Now it’s just a piece of bloatware garbage.

As of May 2013, the most current version of µTorrent ( includes advertisements displayed in the lower left of the client which can be disabled by unchecking Options>Show Plus Information.

An additional horizontal advertisement bar has been added below the Toolbar that was not present in earlier versions (e.g., which can NOT be disabled.  This bar contains advertisements for products such as “SpeedUpMyComputer”.  The format of the horizontal advertisement bar is such that it strongly resembles the transfer status of active torrents, including Status, Health, and Rating Stars all located directly above the corresponding torrent columns.

Here’s a picture of the offending ad bar.


In case you can’t tell, the advertisements are the bit in tan/yellow.  Yeah, that’s right.  It looks EXACTLY like the actual torrent software.

Related to the Installation and License Agreement,
In the most current version of uTorrent (, the License Agreement contains language related to the installation of several additional pieces of software which contain features very similar to spyware and/or bloatware.

The “Full Installation (Recommended)”, which is selected by the installation software as the default option, will
* “Install the Toolbar including Value Apps”
* “Set my default search and home page to Conduit search.”
* “Install and enable Search Protect to notify of changes.”

The additional optional components have a corresponding additional EULA, including
* “Value Apps may include Conduit apps and third-party apps.”
* “Conduit is not responsible for the practices of third parties.”
* “In addition to Value Apps, other apps may access, collect and use your personal data, including your IP address and the address and content of web pages you visit.”

A “Custom Installation” option may be selected, after which the optional components may unchecked.

Has anyone else noticed this annoying downgrade during the upgrade process?

This post is hereby licensed CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike).  A link back to this post is sufficient attribution.

Living a Transformational Life


    This was posted by Table Grace Cafe, where I have lunch at least once a week; the TED talk does a pretty good job describing my feelings from yesterday morning.

Our self-centered society is breaking people down both mentally and physically, and destroying the biosphere which literally gives us life. I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to make a transition in time, many species are already victims.  What will the transformation look like for humans, and how many of us will survive? Many million are already born into short, tragic lives from which there is no escape. As the world becomes more closely reliant on lengthening corporate-controlled food, water, and energy supplies, there will come a time when instead of just barely making it, we either just barely, or totally and absolutely miss our goals of survival. Quite honestly, I find people who aren’t dramatically concerned to be living an unrealistic life. This is very difficult for me, since so many people I know and love fall into this category.

I’m going to spend my President’s Day holiday working on biofules production. If/when humanity runs into significant problems, I want to know that I did absolutely everything I could to both mitigate and adapt in advance.


The myth of “recovery”

You may have heard me express my dislike of recent usage of phrases like “recover” with regard to prices/value getting back to their previous highs.  See, the things is this; that was a bubble.  When a bubble bursts, you don’t “recover” back to the artificially high prices you had on top of the bubble.  It’s not that things have been artifiially low recently, and they are “recovering” back to the correct high values.  It’s that then, they were artificially HIGH.  The true recovery WAS the bubble bursting.

Sometimes market reporters use words like “correction” when stocks go down.  That always feels like sugar coating bullshit.  That stock went down because it went down.  AND, that kind of language is totally incompatible with saying that rising prices are “recovering”.  You cannot “correct” down, and “recover” up.  That is just unmitigated double-think.

So, with that said, see the attached graph.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

click the graph to open Google Finance INDEX:DJI in a new tab and explore for yourself

We are less than 1% from the HIGHEST DOW EVER.  That is only a single trading day, since the market was in fact up 1% today.
Somehow that feels like it snuck up on us.  You know why?  Becaue it did.  The last time the DOW got to 14100, it had taken 5 years to get there from 8000.  And the result was the worst “correction” and financial disaster since the Great Depression.

Time for the DOW to “recover” from 8000 back to today’s 14000?  4 years.

(And that discounts everything between Feb and April of 2009, when the Dow plunged far below 8000, falling more than 20% in one month, and the corresponding “recovery” rate when it rocketed back up)

So I guess what I’m saying is, it DID sneak up on us.

And I’m also saying that the disconnect between Wall St. and Main St. has made it “feel” like things really aren’t improving very much at all.  Stock indexes are up, but people are still un- and under-employed.
Apparently household wealth is approaching the high mark in 2007

By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON | Thu Dec 6, 2012 1:43pm EST(Reuters) – The net wealth of U.S. households rose in the third quarter to its highest since late 2007, providing a hopeful sign for future consumer spending.  Net financial wealth grew $1.72 trillion to $64.77 trillion, the Federal Reserve said on Thursday.  That left household wealth $1.2 trillion short of where it stood in the fourth quarter of 2007, just as the economy was sinking into a severe recession. Wealth peaked at $67.3 trillion in the third quarter of that year.

But I’d be willing to bet that the distribution now is SIGNIFICANTLY more unequal than it was 5 years ago.  [citation needed]
UPDATE: Yeah, I’ll go ahead and provide citations:
(Table 4, sources given under table)

Share of Wealth in the US
Bottom 99 percent    Top 1 percent
2004            65.7%        34.3%
2007            65.4%        34.6%
2010            64.6%        35.4%
(see chart in the article, a section recopied here. Compiled with data from US Census Bureau, references given in the article)

2007        0.463
2008        0.467
2009        0.468
2010        0.469
2011        0.477

There we go.  Numerous distinct sources verified that things ARE more unequal now than they were before the Great Recession.  Which is probably why it felt like the highest stock market close ever sneaked up on us.


A response to “Australian Gun Law Update”

This “update” chain email (quoted below) has been circulating the internet for more than 10 years.  Recently, tragic news stories about gun-related violence in the United States have become discouragingly common:

  • Sandy Hook Elementary School
  • Aurora, CO
  • Sikh Temple, Oak Creek, WI
  • Tuscon, AZ, including the shooting of United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords
  • Virginia Tech
  • Fort Hood
  • even in my hometown, Omaha, NE, Dec 5th, 2007

Unfortunately, the past year has been particularly disturbing
Bearing witness to the worst year of gun rampages in modern US history

In such a climate, it’s not surprising to see this circulating. However, these “facts” should given appropriate weight and respect. Which is to say, in this case, very little.
There are a few notable considerations. Starting with the first bullet-point statement, “homicides are up”. The appropriate figures to look at would be the homicide rate, rather than simply the change number of homicides.

Constant rates of homicide victimisation in Australia
Mouzos, J. 2000, “Homicide in Australia”, Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, no. 187, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra.
Abstract: … Trends show that the homicide rate for Australia has stayed remarkably constant. …

Reproduced from this report, the following figure shows the trends for the period from 1989-2000 for each Australian territory, and for the country as a whole (far right grouping, labeled “Aus.”)


The year 1997 would be directly in the middle of this period. Clearly there is no significant change in the nationwide homicide rate. Certainly there is no substantial increase that this original email “update” would imply.

The figure is also an excellent indicator of why cherry-picking statistics is a terrible misrepresentation of information. It would technically be true to say “In 1996, the homicide rate in Tasmania increased nearly 500%”. Since 1996 was the year of the Port Arthur massacre, a killing spree in which 35 people were killed, that statement would grossly distort the situation. The majority of statistics in this “update” are use this type of distortion.

Unfortunately, this type of misinformation remains prevalent. It was for this reason specifically that the NRA has in the past been asked to rescind comments related Australian crime statistics by none other than the Attorney General of Australia, as reported by the conservative news organization WorldNewsDaily

For comparison, the homicide rate in the US in 2010 is 4.8 (per 100,000), which is more that 3.5 times (or 350%) higher than Australia at 1.3 (most recent data 2007).
On a positive note, the United States rate as been cut in half in the last 20 year, but still remains at least double the rate in nearly all other major industrialized nations.

Another analysis of the topic is presented in this report. Two selected figures are reproduced below, with the enactment of firearms controls clearly marked.

Firearm related deaths in Australia, 1991-2001
Jenny Mouzos and Catherine Rushforth
Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice, no. 269
ISBN 0 642 53821 2 ; ISSN 0817-8542
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, November 2003



For further research, Wikipedia has a summary of 17 additional academic publications regarding the topic

Of course, Snopes also has a lengthy discussion of this topic, with several more references
(I acknowledge the fact that not everyone “believes” Snopes, often based on the inability to check primary sources Snopes uses and lists, which is why I led with research publication sources above)

Intelligent discourse and policy making depends on information. When statistics and figures are cherry-picked, or even intentionally distorted, to try to support a per-determined position, our democracy suffers. The right to self defense, sportsmanship, and personal responsibility has a deep history in our nation, enshrined in our founding documents. When the time comes, now more than ever, to have a discussion on such a fundamental issue, let us not base it on biased information.

— Scott H Williams

Begin forwarded message:
Subject: Fwd: Australian Gun Law Update

Australian Gun Law Update

The tragedy of Newtown is what it is, but people need to pay attention to what happens when they make a knee jerk reaction to a serious issue.
Australian Gun Law Update
From: Ed Chenel, A police officer in Australia

Hi Yanks, I thought you all would like to see the real
figures from Down Under.

It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by a new
law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by our own
government, a program costing Australia taxpayers
more than $500 million dollars.

The first year results are now in:
Australia-wide, homicides are up 6.2 percent,
Australia-wide, assaults are up 9.6 percent;
Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent)!

In the state of Victoria
lone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent.(Note that
while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals did not
and criminals still possess their guns!)
While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady
decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically
upward in the past 12 months, since the criminals now are guaranteed
that their prey is unarmed.
There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and
assaults of the elderly, while the resident is at home.

Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public
safety has decreased, after such monumental effort and expense was
expended in ‘successfully ridding Australian society of guns….’ You
won’t see this on the American evening news or hear your governor or
members of the State Assembly disseminating this information.

The Australian experience speaks for itself. Guns in the
hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control
laws affect only the law-abiding citizens.

Take note Americans, before it’s too late!
Will you be one of the sheep to turn yours in?
WHY? You will need it.


Facebook Site Governance

Who else got this email?

Facebook, Inc. and Facebook Ireland Ltd., which together operate the Facebook service worldwide, recently posted some proposed updates to our Data Use Policy and our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities for your review and feedback. Those updates provided more detailed information about our practices, reflected changes to our products, and modified how we conduct our site governance process.

The period for submitting your comments has ended, but you can still provide feedback on those proposals by taking part in our site governance vote. To learn more about our proposed updates (which include additional clarifications based on your comments) and the vote, please visit our Site Governance Page. Voting will end on December 10, 2012 at 12 PM (PST) / December 10, 2012 at 8 PM (GMT). We encourage you to review and vote on the proposed versions of our governance documents.

I’m not sure what to think, other than the fact that I wish I had never started on facebook in the first place. Tragically, it has turned out to be a very valuable method for distributing information to members or, and people interested in nonprofit organizations. I have been working to improve nonprofit organization websites recently. I look forward to these pages getting to a level where they stand completely independently, and become the default source for information on their own issues. Sadly, that day is still very far away, and may never actually arrive.


Just as I’m writing that, I found an interesting update. Look at all these posts on that page…
95 of 27,535
View previous comments

In response to the new Facebook guideline, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all my personal details, status message updates, photos, videos and all other personal content that I post online (as a result of the Berner Convention) on my personal page, anyone else’s page, or any business page. For commercial use of the above, my written consent is needed at all times.

I have no idea what that means, but MRIN. I’m thinking of posting a similar comment, only applying a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 license to any content I create through tools provided by Facebook. Meaning, Facebook may NOT use any of my work for commercial (profit) purposes.

So I have to install an app in order to vote? That seems like the ultimate screw job,

Facebook Site Governance is using your name, profile picture, other public info, and friend list from Facebook to personalize your experience.

Meaning: we’ll customize ads so you (as the user, but more importantly product) are more valuable to Facebook as a commodity which is sold to advertisers.

And we did not like it.
Not one little bit.
– The Cat in the Hat


A society grows great…

A society grows great when elders plant trees under whose shade they know they will never sit.

modified “Greek proverb”
As much as it applies, SHW 2012 CC BY-NC-SA

I modified the original to reflect gender equality, moved the dangling preposition and changed it from “in” to “under”, and changed “shall” to “will” (less proverbial, but also less awkward with the moved preposition)

Although the for obvious reasons, the original source is somewhat difficult to identify, here are a couple of sites which list the same attribution:


Occupy the Economic Discussion

Tax the rich: Should millionaires really pay more?

In one corner is the rugged, up-by-the-bootstraps individualist. In the other is the egalitarian, level-the-playing-field populist.
Interesting sentiment, and it does show the most positive aspects of each argument. Unfortunately, the claim that “everyone has equal opportunity”, much like the cake, is a lie. Poor students in under-funded public schools have the same legal opportunity to have a happy and successful life, but as demonstrated by all evidence, they have a significantly lower chance of graduating or finding the type of job that would allow them to afford the American Dream they were promised.

Everybody knows that it can’t just be done with spending alone, so they’re turning to taxes.
This is why I have such a significant issue with the Pledge. Pretending that you can cut your way out of this problem without ever raising any additional revenue, is just economic dishonesty. The worst part, is that people know it and still make ridiculous claims. This is the national equivalent to the high school claims of “pop machines in the hallways, and classes will end at 2:30pm!!!”

Legislators are now locked in a game of chicken. Republicans have vowed to reject any tax increases. Mr. Obama pushed back, promising in a Rose Garden speech on Sept. 19 to veto any plan that cuts Medicare without raising taxes on the wealthy.
Notice the difference in tactics. Republicans have taken 1 of the 2 options completely off the table, while Obama says that he won’t accept one without the other. The party of the rich offers no viable suggestion for compromise, even when given the option of discussing the balance of cuts/taxes. The worst part… they still end up getting their way because they have better messaging.

I, of course, am thrilled to hear from Robert Reich. I’ve been a big fan of his stuff for several years now.

…we do have the potential to undermine saving and investment.
I’ve never understood the claim that taxing the rich will cause them to not put their money back into the economy. In fact, it’s not even possible to remove money from the economy entirely, no matter where it goes it is still in action. Even savings accounts are paid interest because the bank loans the money back out to make profit. “The rich” would have to literally stuff paper currency under a mattress in order to keep it from being invested. Discussion about economic multiplier effects from the way in which the rich spend are a valid discussion. The trouble for supply-siders is that the most economic benefit comes from a middle and lower class who have more income to spend in local economies.

Ahh look, CSM recognizes the grave nature of the Pledge.

…income inequality hurts the purchasing power of the middle class, which is bad for everyone.
Another point for Erlo! It feels like I’ve read these same topics of discussion many times in the past, and yet somehow they struggle to be understood by the public writ large.

Prior to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, Washington typically raised taxes in wartime.
No more commentary is needed on starting unfunded wars, as that subject has been covered significantly, and one is now over.

My final thought is that even as many/most decry the rich for walloing in their own crapulence, at every turn we emulate them. TV, magazines, pop music, all tell the public that you should want what they have. I disagree, and encourage others to seek those things that actually make us happy; connection with our friends and family, peaceful and relaxing time to enjoy our communities, interaction with nature, and a knowledge that by working together we can meet our own needs without compromising the ability of others to meet their needs. Those things can never be taken away, no matter how much economic and political power the rich might have.