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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When campaigns don't matter

January 29, 2012

Public interest campaigns are critical. They help mobilize funds. They leverage policy. The can raise public awareness. Sometimes, but not always, they change behavior. Behavior can change if targets are predisposed and able. Predisposition presupposes an added value for changing. We change because we will benefit. Ability implies having the resources or competence to change. Using a condom is within the reach of all men who choose to use them. Smoking, though an addiction, is…

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A cheap campaign

January 4, 2012

Rick Santorum has just placed second, by 8 votes, in the Iowa Republican Party caucuses. He was outspent by number one, Mitt Romney, by literally millions of dollars. I have seen this same scenario countless times. In the modern era, it’s often due to viral marketing successes. In the older days, it was word of mouth or free news coverage that did the trick. The question is, does one have to spend to make noise?…

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No more money?

December 28, 2011

Is the world running out of money? Have we created more debt than capital? For the purposes of my argument, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the public interest sector is finding it increasingly difficult to find it. I want to talk about solutions but first let me just slip in one word of warning. I am not going to put the full blame on those who give the money. Quite the contrary,…

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Need vs. want

November 23, 2011

You might call me a kill-joy as we approach this holiday season. You might be a retailer, in which case you would want me, and others like me, to stay out of the way. If you are a wholesaler, distributor or manufacturer you will think the same. And, of course, if you are union or government, believe me, you will also think I’m looney. Here’s why. I believe we should be buying more of what…

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Education relevance

November 5, 2011

Here is something I hope we can someday solve: the relevance of education. I did enjoy geography, history and biology. Philosophy taught me thought and physics made me aware of the real world we live in. But I ask you, did all those subjects prepare us sufficiently for the real world we live in? I don’t think so. I believe we lack real world skills, everything from managing money to doing manual labor. I have…

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Seven billion

November 5, 2011

When I was born, we were headed for four billion people on Earth. Seven billion? When did that happen? Sure, we were raised with graphs of the population curve, but it’s one thing to learn it and another to live it. Actually, the same is true for climate change and so many other early warnings. Did you know that this past year was the year with the most carbon emissions in history? Whatever happened to…

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World Vegan Day

November 1, 2011

I’m a vegan. I did not become a vegan for ethical reasons. Now I am a vegan for ethical reasons. I am also a vegan for scientific reasons. Ethically, go to a slaughterhouse, look at cattle being transported, look at a deep ocean trawler bringing in the nets and you too will become ethically vegan. How couldn’t you? It is simply cruel. We are cruel. But now I am also a scientific vegan. I became…

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Chateau 1%

November 1, 2011

1%, yes 1%, of the wealthiest Americans own such a ridiculous high proportion of the US economy that the number is not worth repeating. You can look it up and feel as disgusted as I am. You can also look at other countries. There, you will find the same. Many Latin American countries, Asian countries and definitely African countries, have an incredibly wealthy upper class. I will not waste your time repeating the story. We…

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A toothpick and a watermelon

October 3, 2011

I am an eternal optimist. I am also a realist. I aim to make things better but I realize that it’s not always easy to attain one’s goals. But clearly, some tasks are more difficult than others. Advocacy and campaigning are two such tasks. I used to think that if you had a worthy cause, were innovative, understood the circumstances and had resources, you could change the world. Why, I wondered, would people not listen…

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Winds of change?

August 22, 2011

Nope, there are no winds of change. I don’t feel it anyway. In fact, it feels really dry and calm. Despite a plethora of problems, we continue to act guided by political dogma, special interests and greed. We seem to be piling on the issues believing that we will never reach a breaking point. Obviously, the recent US debt ceiling crisis was a prime example. Party politics, not the national interest, drove decisions. We clearly…

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Don't forget the rest of the world

August 15, 2011

It’s a big world out there. So much is happening in politics, development, culture and even sport. And yet, come to the United States, watch the news and you would not know it. I’m talking about all the news, the 24-hour cable networks such as CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox or Headline News. I’m referring to the prime time news shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Every single news cast focusses on either US-based news…

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Confusing names and urls

July 8, 2011

As I mentioned in my previous post, we are running out of names and gimmicks to use to promote the public interest. There is one that confuses me more than most. UN.GIFT. When I first saw the ‘word’ I thought it was a url. So I typed it in only to find that there is no .gift TLD (top level domain); I suspected as much. At this point, just before the results came up, I…

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