Annual Free Credit Report
Permalink
Jun 26, 2005

According to Federal Law, you must be able to request a free credit report once a year from the major credit agencies. The companies were required to roll this out in 4 phases. I remember the annoucements, but either I missed the news reports that they were now available in my area, or the stories were not run. (Either are quite plausible.)

For everyone except "the Eastern States and All US Territories", the deadline has passed and you can now get your free credit report from this web site. (The Eastern States et al come online Sept. 1st, 2005.)

What they didn't tell you in those news stories was how easy it would be to do it. I had assumed that the companies would make things as hard as possible, then and mail the reports to you. While you do need to confirm your identity, and the companies do try to convince you to pay money for their extra special report, I found the difficulty level appropriate, and was very pleased that they are displayed online immediately. The whole process can take less than ten minutes, unless you end up having to dig up old loan information or something. (Those of you with a richer credit history than me may have more difficulty.)

Each credit company does provide you a "printable" link that contains the entire report in one page (also suitable for archiving on disk), though you sometimes have to look for it a little.

I found no grievous errors on mine, but one of the companies has not yet noticed that I left the Lansing area nearly two years ago.


My Adjective Test
Permalink
Jun 25, 2005

If an adjective is in a statement, but the statement is just as true
without the adjective, with its opposite, or with a generalization,
then the statement fails my adjective test.

Examples:

(Sorry for the political nature of that first one; I tried to come
up with a non-political one, but equal-or-greater truth with the
opposite mostly comes up with groups of people, which is
political.)

Why is this important? A statement containing an adjective that
fails this test contains it for one of two reasons: Weak thinking, or
deliberate deception.

"Deliberate deception" is obvious; "weak thinking" may take a bit
more explanation. The information
value of a statement can be defined as the extent to which it is a
"surprise"; being told something you already absolutely know is not
informative, whereas being told something intricate that you had no
idea about is extremely informative. (This is an informal definition,
but it is drawn from one of the formal definitions used in computer
science.)

One of the ways of being informative is to categorize things and
apply statements to the various categories. Adjectives are such
categories; simplified, the adjective "red" divides the world into the
things that are red and the things that are not red.

When you make a statement with an adjective, you are implicitly
claiming that the opposite is true of things that don't match the
adjective. Mathematically, the statement "Green balls bounce" does
not at all imply anything about non-green balls. In practice,
it does imply to some degree that non-green balls do
not bounce. What's the point of saying it otherwise?

A weak thinker can accept or state such a sentence and accept the
implied negation without every thinking about it directly. Such a
person may proudly run around and make statements such as the examples
above, sometimes even if when pressed directly, they would agree the
implication is false.

A deliberate deceiver is trying to get you to accept the
implication on purpose.

If I linked you to this, it's because you used an adjective that
fails this test. I don't know if you did it on purpose or not (though
I have a good idea in most cases), but you should reconsider your
statement. (This is generally off-topic and better as an off-site
link.)


So now a lawyer is trying to convince a court that a having a cached
file on your hard drive doesn't constitute possession. (Slashdot
article
.)

Good luck with that. The real problem is the "possession" isn't the
real issue; it's the distribution and viewing, i.e., the
human-experienced message.

I wonder how long it will take us to figure out that the whole idea
of possession is fatally flawed in the Internet era?


Government Myths #6 & #7
Permalink
Jun 11, 2005

This is the final posting of the Government
Myths
series. As you might imagine, the urgency of the series
decreased as we left the election season.

Unfortunately, I have already seen the first glimmerings that we
are entering the next one (ugh!), as I've already seen stories
about who is considering running. Things seem right on track so that
by the 2012 election, 2016 at the latest, the campaign for the
next election will immediately start after the swearing-in
ceremony.

Read the rest (1018 words)


Permalink
May 15, 2005

The new job goes well. I'm still not completely clear what I can say about it as yet, as I'm under NDA and the public website has not yet been released, but when it is (soon), I'll link it. But I know I can say it goes well.

Due to the driving distance to get to it and the arrangements I've made to deal with that, for the near future my internet access for the week will be much more limited, but I've pretty much made peace with the fact that if this weblog is update once a week, it's a good week.


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