Name Marco Von Ballmoos
Member since
Email [hidden]
Home page http://earthli.com/users/marco

The (only) developer at earthli.com.


2493 Articles

4 months Ago

A Video on Justice by ContraPoints

Published on in Miscellaneous

The presentation in this video is both unorthodox and well-produced; the information is top-notch and interesting. It discusses justice not as found in courts, but as found online, where it is meted out by the self-nominated and righteous.

Justice (Part 1) by ContraPoints (YouTube)

From the video above,

“I’m not going to comment because I don’t want to be canceled for seeming to take a neutral stance on an issue on which I’m supposed to take sides.”

Speaking of which, I’d only recently discovered ContraPoints when I watched... [More]

Edward Snowden interview with Joe Rogan (September

Published on in Miscellaneous

For the second time in a year, Joe Rogan interviews Edward Snowden for about three hours. The last time, Snowden was promoting his book Permanent Record; this time, he’s here to drop more knowledge about the U.S. and the world work—just in time for the election. The interview is well-worth the time.

Joe Rogan Experience #1536 − Edward Snowden (YouTube)

The U.S. Department Of Justice had also very recently found that the NSA had acted illegally. This does not exonerate Snowden from the crimes with which he’s accused, but does prove that when... [More]

Jimmy Dore watches Obama at the DNC

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The video below is a 30-minute analysis of Obama’s short speech at the DNC that provides context from how Obama actually ruled when he was president.

OBAMA Says 'Nobody Is Above the Law'! by Jimmy Dore (YouTube)

I laughed out loud at Dore’s riff on Obama’s continued characterization of America’s torture as “enhanced”, starting at about 4:30,

“That’s my favorite: enhanced interrogation technique. Enhanced? That sounds like it’s nice. Are you going to turn on some mood music and some track lighting?

“No. We’re going to hook your balls up to a car battery... [More]”

Discussing issues == unduly influencing elections

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The article The First Rule of Court Packing is you do not talk about Court Packing by Josh Blackman (Reason) discusses the recent presidential debate.

When Biden was asked about ending the filibuster or packing the court (two highly relevant election issues), he responded,

“Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue. The issue is the American people should speak. You should go out and vote. You’re voting now. Vote and let your Senators know strongly how you feel.”

What the hell does that even mean? I... [More]

What Drives Trump?

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The article The Death of Debate by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) describes what makes Trump tick in what I think is a far more accurate and reasoned manner than most people seem to be able to muster.

I would like to preface (and will re-address in the summary), that it’s pretty clear that Trump is not alone in his motivations. He is just a very extreme example. While there are many U.S. politicians who are interested in doing what they perceive as good for others, many of the most powerful are very clearly in the business... [More]

Modern News Media is a Business

Published on in Miscellaneous

The article The Post-Objectivity Era by Matt Taibbi (SubStack) is based on the transcript of a speech he gave.[1] It is an excellent summary of both the history of U.S. media and its current business model.

The basic thrust is that the media has always been in it for the money. There is no golden age of principled objectivity to which to return, in that sense. The news was more objective in olden days, but only because it made more sense to be that way. The media catered to the broadest possible audience for two reasons:

... [More]

Definitions of Diplomacy

Published on in Quotes

I recently saw two definitions of diplomacy that I liked very much. I’ve included them below with the original attributions and have made no effort to ascertain their accuracy. I think the quotes stand on their own, regardless of who is purported to have said them.

“Diplomacy is the art of building ladders to allow people to climb down gracefully.”
Otto von Bismarck
“Diplomacy is the art of telling someone to go to hell in such a manner that they look forward to the trip.”

Book Recommendations for a Friend (July 2020)

Published on in Books

I found a list of book recommendations I’d made for a friend, tailored to his interests. I’ve republished it here with some minor edits, in case anyone else is interested. The title links to my review and notes.

This is a partial list of books I’ve read since 2013 that I think you might be interested in. I’ve included links to my reviews/notes/citations, if that helps.

I’ve tried to break it up into rough groups. Many straddle categories. They’re all good, but some are work and some are fun.
... [More]

Mail-in Voting in the US

Published on in Miscellaneous

COVID-19 has made mail-in voting more relevant than ever for US elections. In other countries, this would not be an issue, as mail-in voting doesn’t pose any particular technical, organizational, or bureaucratic hassles or threaten to lead to widespread disenfranchisement. Those are normal countries, like Switzerland, where a majority of the population votes by mail about five times per year.

The US is different: even the simplest tasks become difficult for a nation afraid to commit to... [More]

Amazon Book Recommendations getting weirder

Published on in Books

I was recently inspired to write about my Kindle’s odd recommendations. Since then, I’ve gotten several more—with seemingly rapidly decreasing quality.

Lady from the Stars

 Lady from the Stars

“A woman from another planet crashes on Earth. Her foes track her and plan to enslave Earth. Can she stop them and save Earth and the man she loves?”

I’m going to guess that the author is simultaneously responsible for the cover art and the blurb. If the prose in the book measures up to the quality of the blurb, then... [More]

Corruption in the US

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

This video from 2015 takes only five minutes to present the results of a Princeton University study of 20 years of data to determine the amount of influence an American had on which laws were enacted. Regardless of whether Americans were completely against or completely for a policy, there was a 30% chance of it being enacted. From the study:

“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy. ”

 It seems... [More]


Published on in Quotes

“Maybe the greatest miracle is memory”
Brian Doyle

Found in the article Two Poems by Michael Garrigan (ecotheoreview). Both are quite nice. I had to look up Thomas Merton.


A surfeit of unearned confidence

Published on in Quotes

“You suffer from the arrogance of ignorance.”
The Man in the High Castle


Published on in Quotes

“Yours is like all fortunes, Shadow: opaque on arrival, inevitable in retrospect.”
Wednesday (American Gods S01E01)

Soft tyranny

Published on in Quotes

Life in the 21st century is all about the soft tyranny of lowered expectations.

By all means

Published on in Quotes

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

Whether Napoleon actually said it or not is immaterial.


New Weather Station

Published on in Design

 My old weather station finally died. I’d inherited it about 25 years ago from a good friend in New York. It came from my apartment in Kew Gardens to Switzerland, where it was first mounted in my kitchen and then office for many years.

The cord was covered with electrical tape from several incidents involving my first rabbit Oz. After a dozen more years, the plastic casing on the wire leading to the outside thermometer had become very brittle—especially after years of being shut into the... [More]


Published on in Quotes

“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
From Mencken Chrestomathy by H.L. Mencken in January 1925 (Quote Investigator)

The linked article above includes a related quote:

“That seems to be the haunting fear of mankind — that the advancement of women will sometime, someway, someplace, interfere with some man’s comfort.”
Nellie L. McClung in 1915

More great suggestions from Amazon

Published on in Books

The Handsewer’s Son

 The Handsewer's Son

The blurb below the amazing cover is:

“Imagine having a gem in your hand that allows you to cut through the fabric of the universe. With a vision that can take you anyplace in the Galaxy.”

Amazon has had access to my wishlists for over a decade. Possibly even two decades. They have names like “Sociology and Philosophy”, “History and Biography”, “Science and Technology”, and “Public Policy”. There is no “self-published YA Fiction that is most likely utter shite even for... [More]

5 months Ago

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2020.9

Published on in Movies

These are my notes to remember what I watched and kinda what I thought about it. I’ve recently transferred my reviews to IMDb and made the list of around 1400 ratings publicly available. I’ve included the individual ratings with my notes for each movie. These ratings are not absolutely comparable to each other—I rate the film on how well it suited me for the genre and my mood and. let’s be honest, level of intoxication. YMMV. Also, I make no attempt to avoid spoilers.

QT8: The First Eight... [More]

Realistic Expectations for the 2020s in the U.S.

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The article If Biden Wins by Ted Rall is a succinct list of what to expect from a Biden presidency. I’ve cited most of it and added some extra notes of my own.

  • Supreme Court: “[…] he’ll pick a conservative corporatist […] to placate the Republicans in the Senate.”
  • Immigration: “Kids will remain in cages at the border […because] he won’t want to appear weak on immigration.”
  • Medicare for all: “No change on healthcare.”
  • Debt relief: “No student loan forgiveness.”
  • Environment: “No Green New Deal.”
  • Foreign... [More]

7 months Ago

Consuming Media: Choosing and Cultivating Sources

Published on in Philosophy

A good friend of mine is going to be teaching a course on “Media & Society”. We’ve had a few interesting discussions on how to be a discerning consumer of information and how to build a stable of reliable sources.

As an avid follower of myriad topics, I’ve spent decades doing just this. As an avid writer on this blog, I’ve spent decades[1] trying to create content that presents information in a way that doesn’t come to unwarranted or unreasonable conclusions.

YMMV, of course, but I’m assiduous... [More]

A dynamically generated Groovy foot-gun

Published on in Programming

Groovy is a dynamically typed programming language that executes on the Java Runtime. It mixes its own highly dynamic syntax with islands of Java code. The Android ecosystem and its IDE use Gradle for its build scripts. Gradle uses the Groovy programming language.

The Problem Code

A large project I’m working on contains quite a bit of custom Gradle code for integrating framework libraries, making obfuscated builds, configuring publication, and, finally, creating signed builds.

The signed... [More]

Capsule Movie Reviews Vol.2020.8

Published on in Movies

These are my notes to remember what I watched and kinda what I thought about it. I’ve recently transferred my reviews to IMDb and made the list of around 1400 ratings publicly available. I’ve included the individual ratings with my notes for each movie. These ratings are not absolutely comparable to each other—I rate the film on how well it suited me for the genre and my mood and. let’s be honest, level of intoxication. YMMV. Also, I make no attempt to avoid spoilers.

After Life S02 (2020)... [More]

Planet of the Humans (2019)

Published on in Movies

This is a pretty sloppily made and slipshod documentary about a very important topic. It relies too much on hot takes, visual clickbait, and gotcha editing. The first 12 minutes are boring as hell, completely light on information, and don’t really advance anything of note. You can read into this film what you want, which means it doesn’t serve very well as a documentary.

Some will see it as a wake-up call telling us to beware of green hucksters shilling for large corporate interests and... [More]

iOS COVID-tracking and battery life

Published on in Technology

Install the COVID app, they said.

It’s for the good of the nation, they said.

It won’t drain your battery, they said.


 COVID takes 60% just sitting there

The yellow color indicates that I had the phone in low-power mode.

The phone was on my desk all day long. I used it twice for 2FA. I looked at a few messages.

I’d last charged it sometime yesterday evening.

I wonder how much battery it needs when it’s actually doing something?


iOS still has a problem with “background activity”

Published on in Technology

iOS has long had a setting that lets you decide whether “Background Refresh” is enabled. I have always had it disabled because I don’t need any of my apps doing things when I’m not using them. I’m more interested in my phone being there for me to look up something useful than I am in looking for a charger or carrying a power brick wherever I go.

This does not mean that apps are not doing things in the background, though. The article Background App Refresh Explained by David Johnson on Dec 6, 2019 (Techzillo) explains that the... [More]

Guardian Signup Form

Published on in Design

The Guardian doesn’t have a paywall, but they now have a registration requirement. This is fine with me. I don’t browse their site regularly, but I do occasionally get links from bloggers I follow. I appreciate the job the Guardian does and am fine with being registered with them.

 Guardian sign-in/sign-up formTheir signup form is somewhat odd and unpleasant-looking, but it’s the functionality that’s the most offputting.

I was unable to sign up with my preferred email address. I was notified of this by validation that... [More]

Combat Hegemony Holistically (The Blood is still Flowing)

Published on in Public Policy & Politics

The following interview is excellent. I like the discussion between Taibbi and Halper at the beginning (I find them to be entertaining, insightful, and informative, but YMMV), but if you want to skip it, the interview starts at about 31 minutes or so. Or you can watch just the interview as a separate video.

Dr. Cornel West on Protests, Bernie's Campaign, His New Podcast, and Much More | Useful Idiots (YouTube)

Dr. Cornel West is absolutely on fire in this interview. Here he is offering a nuanced and absolutely correct take on voting for the lesser evil. Emphasis is mine.

Cornel West: I was not... [More]”

I Can’t Breathe by Matt Taibbi (2017; read in 2020)

Published on in Books

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an... [More]