Excess Noise Blog

Opinions and informal analyses by Cemil (Jim) Alyanak - K3MRI

Excess Noise Blog

Risks & Dangers: Step 1

June 3, 2019

Why do we ignore warnings? Why have we become so laissez-faire that even a fire alarm, a signal telling us that the building might burn down and kill us, will not rouse us? We sit there in our apartment or hotel room wondering when this annoying noise will stop. The obvious first answer is that we have heard so many false alarms, that we no longer associate that ringing with actual danger. It’s probably some…

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The Comic Arts

August 9, 2017

Those who know me, know my passion for comics. They can say so much more in one image than pundits can in a day. Regardless of your political affiliation, or maybe because of it, a comic will either confirm your world view, reject it or cause you to think about it. The image I’ve chosen to best illustrate this is one drawn by Joe Heller. Again, regardless of whether you agree with the substance of…

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Continental divide

October 7, 2012

On a mass scale, social media has revolutionized how governments interact with their population and vice-versa. The 24/7 TV news cycle has also changed our relationship. Technology has also affected our individual relationships.

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Advice, you say?

October 2, 2012

This is one of those déjà vu moments: I’m certain I’ve complained about this before. The ‘this’ is advice. People often come to us, in life, asking for advice. They consider us wise in one way or another about one topic or another. So what do we do? We evaluate their need, factor in realities and consequences and then just dive in: we give advice. Here’s the problem: who really wants our advice? I have,…

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Is the center dead?

September 6, 2012

I would like to believe that there is an alternate Universe where the lead species works in its own interest. I would like to believe that in this Universe, people of different opinion sit down to find compromise. I would like to believe that there is a time and place, somewhere in our future, where politicians will not espouse an extreme view but will instead labor to unearth the facts, use them to build models…

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Wisconsin is not Colorado

August 6, 2012

Saturday we were witness to another horrible shooting in the USA. A gunman walked into a Wisconsin Sikh Temple and shot seven people dead. This is clearly news. However, in the eyes of the media it seems to be less news than the Colorado shooting of a few weeks ago. So where is the dividing line? At what point to we decided to give a story 24/7 coverage? Is it the number of dead? Is…

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Idealism vs. bunker food

June 9, 2012

As I listen to various politicians present their vision for the future, an image comes to mind, that of an all-you-can-eat buffet vs. food in a WWII bunker. Much of the political rhetoric revolves around ideal visions of the future. Communists defend the ideals of Marx and others. Socialists have their heros. Capitalists praise deregulated enterprise. The far right imagines a world in which borders are made impenetrable. Whichever is your choice think of this,…

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Not ready for prime time!?

June 7, 2012

Let’s take defense as an example. Who is at the head of defense in the United States? You have at the top of the mountain, the President. Few presidents are trained military officers. Next down you have the Secretary of Defense. Same thing, few SoDs are trained military officers. The same thing applies in agriculture, state (external or foreign affairs), health, etc. Am I implying that the only ones who can lead the policy side…

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It's not about winning

June 2, 2012

America is in the throws of its quadrennial presidential campaign. And, as it has been for two hundred years, one camp is all about winning. It’s not about winning in the winning of the votes sense, it’s winning in the ‘we shall prevail because we believe in the winning spirit.’ This is a critical century. It is a century in which we no longer need winners, we have already lost, all of us have lost.…

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The Art of Accommodation

May 10, 2012

I’m listening to a song called “Money, money”. I’m also thinking about the great ongoing debate in both the US and Europe. The current divide is about — correct me if I’m wrong — individual liberties vs. solidarity. Some call it capitalism vs. socialism. Others make it into a difference between freedom and oppression. I am simply amazed that we cannot reconcile the two. Those of you who know me and follow my thinking know…

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Smart is great

May 7, 2012

I think we can all agree that smart thinking is needed to solve our world’s problems. In a world of crisis, however, it is sometimes difficult to believe that smart thinking gets the upper hand. It’s sometimes easier to believe that great ideas get buried under the weight of administrative bottlenecks, political priorities or funding shortfalls. And yet, I just saw this. I don’t know where it is. I don’t know who’s responsible. I will…

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Where's home?

April 13, 2012

Are we living an era where one’s ‘home’ is no longer clear? Where do people really come from? Is it where they were born? Is it where their parents were born? What happens when all three places are different? What happens when you move away from your birthplace before you even turn one year old? I think it’s time that we accept that we are all world citizens. Sure, we have passports and roots, but…

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Studies show… People are…

February 7, 2012

For years, I have been trying to put my frustration with hogwash into more formal terms. I may have found a way. I believe in evidence. Growing up, my dad used a gravity to engrain the notion. He asked me to pick up a coin and drop it. When I did, he asked me to do it again. He then got up to get a drink and a snack from the kitchen, insisting that I…

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Media yes! But…

January 30, 2012

Full disclosure: I am a media and news junkie. I enjoy watching, listening to, reading or otherwise ingesting what the world is up to. I believe that an informed population can individually and collectively advance in the right direction whereas an uninformed population makes mistake after mistake. And so, when CNN came to be, I was there, tuned in, fascinated by the ability to follow news beyond the prime time newscasts of the then three…

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