Category Archives: Uncategorized

I like the theory

Paul Ryan has a modest proposal on streamlining government aid. I suspect the end result would make sure the same bureaucracies are getting their cut of the pie and numbers would be fudged to ensure that it looked like people were getting help. Still, I like the idea of empowering states to try different stuff and while I’m sure it could be worse, that seems unlikely.

Weird Al makes the world a better place

Seriously, why is he not doing the Superbowl half-time show?

Private vs public

An explanation on why the left is so uptight about the Hobby Lobby decision. To sum up: positive and negative rights and the growing intrusiveness of government.

I feel safer

A government scientist cleaning out an old storage room at a research center near Washington made a startling discovery last week — decades-old vials of smallpox packed away and forgotten in a cardboard box.

It’s not the beginning of an apocalyptic novel, it’s just life. There was probably some old guy, ten years after retiring, sitting on the lake, fishing, “Maybe I should have mentioned I left the smallpox in that storage closet when I retired. Oh well.”  On the other hand, security through obscurity.

Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Research and Evaluation, said the discovery was unexpected but not a total shock. He added, however, that “no one’s denying we should have done a better job cleaning out what was there.”

I like him.

They do if they’re paying the bill

“Today’s decision jeopardizes women’s access to essential health care. Employers have no business intruding in the private health care decisions women make with their doctors. This ruling ignores the scientific evidence showing that the health security of millions of American women is strengthened by access to these crucial services,” Reid said. “If the Supreme Court will not protect women’s access to health care, then Democrats will. We will continue to fight to preserve women’s access to contraceptive coverage and keep bosses out of the examination room.”

This is why I think health care is broken at its very core. Health insurance should be paid for by the individual. This would require it becoming much cheaper.  I couldn’t afford the coverage I have if my employer wasn’t footing the bill. The person that holds the purse strings, controls the content. And whether it’s my employer or the government, I’m relying on their benevolence to provide me with a service. Either one could change their minds at any time and I have no control over it.

Something everyone can agree on

Keith Olbermann’s lovely takedown of soccer in America

Hurray!

The Supreme Court recognizes that we are entitled to some digital privacy and safety from unwarranted searches.

To demonstrate how cellphones differ from other items that you might be carrying in your pocket, the Court chronicled, in some detail, the many functions of cellphones – as “cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers” – and emphasized their “immense storage capacity.”  Having all of this information stored in one place, the Court explained, collectively provides much more information about our lives than, say, a calendar or camera would, standing alone.  In fact, the Court posited, because of the different kinds of data that can be stored on a cellphone, searching a cellphone could provide police with even more information about your life than they could get from searching your home.

If this kind of aggregation is what it takes to stop the piecemeal destruction of the 4th amendment, then great. Go google. Maybe this can reverse the flow.

A list. On the Internet.

The 100 best movies as picked by the film industry.

It’s not as bad as you’d think. Although, I’d like to know the average age of these people. There are a lot more 70s films than I’d expect and a lot fewer from the last 10 years. And for no apparent reason A New Hope is ranked higher than Empire Strikes Back.

Dude, make up your mind

Some random Englishman is upset when Americans ape European soccer traditions and he’s upset when they deviate from them.

There’s the curious obsession with ‘tifo’—those enormous banners that are unfurled in stadiums before kickoff. They work at Lazio, Bayern Munich or Boca Juniors. At Real Salt Lake, not so much.

These soccer snobs are so intent on maintaining an aura of authenticity that when they make a slip-up or use an incorrect or ill-advised term, I feel compelled to pounce on them with all the force of a Roy Keane challenge.

There’s no such position as outside back! (It is fullback.) The rest of the world doesn’t call them PKs! (It is penalties. Just penalties.)

I hope it makes him feel better to know that the only thing I know about the World Cup is that Mexico’s goalie is a machine with crazy hair.

Srsly?

Regulating smartphone map apps use in cars. Is there anything too unimportant for our government to boss us around on?

Summer Reading list

Having taken the spring off to, basically, play video games, I present my Summer reading list:

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan. I’m already 40 pages in, but given its length, I don’t feel this is cheating.

A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire by Geoffrey Wawro. Because why did anyone fight? How was Europe ordered before the war? No one knows.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Everyone raves about this.

The First Thousand Years by Robert Louis Wilken

Gardens of the Moon: Book One of The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. I’ve heard great things about this series. We’ll see.

Three (Legends of the Duskwalker) by Jay Posey. I got this somehow, maybe an Orbit Book drop. Anyway, if I want a hardcore SF book this is where I’ll go.

Elective Affinities by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This is a maybe, if I get bored, addition.

Rogues edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. Because look at the authors listed. LOOK AT THEM!

Here’s the one

Tis the season for commencement speeches and here’s the best of the lot. I’ve found that if you can pull of number one, the rest are nice, but non-essential.

OMG, this is my life

Oh wait, no I’m not living in an Austen novel. More’s the pity.

Except Mansfield Park. No one wants to be Fanny.

We know, that’s why we don’t like you

White House official jokes that they know everything about us online. It’s funny cause it’s true.

Truly useful information

Why has no one mentioned this to me before?

Wow

Electrical stimulation enables paraplegics to voluntarily move their legs.

Isn’t it ironic

The FCC’s internet provider throttles them to 28.8kbps until they pay up in protest for Net Neutrality.

Oh, Henri

The Future is Now

Bionic limbs. Finally. His belief that bespoke clothing and shoes will be economical is um, optimistic.

I await my bionic eyes.

Remember free speech?

About the Mark Steyn lawsuit. An enjoyable essay to read, if only for the thesaurus Conrad Black swallowed.

The Hugos

The latest in the Larry Correia versus WorldCon saga. He makes an excellent point about enjoyable reading. I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdom which is the right kind of book. It was okay. Well written, but non-engaging. I spent most of the time reading it watching from the outside thinking it was weird. I vastly more enjoyed my next book The Magic of Recluce which is nothing special, indeed formulaic, but an engaging read.

The  nice thing is I now have a list of stories to read over the summer.

See where your tax money goes

I figure this calculator is fairly accurate, though I found their income estimates to be unhelpful. I was surprised at how much goes to Medicare.

So Much Win

It’s reality that’s wrong

It couldn’t possibly be the advanced statistical techniques. It stands to reason that not everything will be a loser when the climate warms. Adapt or die.

Is our children learning

Because heaven forfend we use brute memorization to learn our addition and multiplication tables. Why, that’s just white male patristic hegemony trying to make our kids smrt. Because it’s a much better idea to start them off with algebra, that’s the inclusive way.

I get that you want kids to know why math works, but first or third graders have, like, miniscule reasoning skills. Explain it to them later, in pre-algebra, when they can care about whys. In the meantime, it’s easier and quicker and more useful to just accept it on faith that 13-7=6. Or not faith because if you have 13 oranges and someone takes 7 you can count and see that you have 6 left

Wow. Actual tolerance.

Andrew Sullivan on the Mozilla CEO thing.

Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

via Inoperable Terran

Although I’m sure early morning people are morally superior

Getting up earlier means you’re slimmer. I suspect this study needs further study, and it’s more like slimmer people tend to get up early. It sounds more like correlation than causation.

It’s The FUTURE!

I’ve read about this in, for instance, Memory , so it’ll be interesting to see if we really can freeze people and later revive them.

Forward Momentum

Why the relative power of the aggressor doesn’t matter in the beginning (see Russia vs. US). Qui audet adipiscitur, yo.

I really don’t think we should get involved in a land war in Asia. If it comes down to actual people in combat, I’m pretty sure it’s NATO’s turn  to step up and by NATO I mean not the US and some token Western European troops, but Western European troops and some US support. It’s their backyard, after all.

Oh lookee here

Roku finally responds to the Chromecast.

This just in

“Green” energy is less efficient than normal energy. Otherwise we would have been using the green stuff.

Take the Green Building Council’s Washington headquarters. Replete with the group’s top green-energy accolade, the platinum LEED certification, the USGBC’s main base comes in at 236 EUI. The average EUI for uncertified buildings in the capital? Just 199.

Stupid Klaus

Them: Why are you laughing so much.
Me: It’s a German work safety forklift video.
Them: o_0

I think that’s a Don Knotts cameo in there, too.

I wanted to hate this

It takes so many things that should deserve contempt and makes them awesome. There’s a lesson in that somewhere.

Are we seriously considering getting involved in a land war in Asia?

For pete’s sake, what are we doing threatening the Ukraine? Like Russia would let us. If I were Yanukovych, I would announce a crackdown (with no intention of calling in the troops), just to watch the US scramble.

Has the State Department not realized that there is civil unrest around the world every spring and not come up with properly pious sounding, but meaningless, platitudes for all the non-democratic countries. You know, like, “We support every person’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and every nation’s sovereignty. Good luck.” Or perhaps “We rely on our good friends and allies in the EU to deal with this problem, since it’s on their doorstep and not ours.” Or, “Russia is right there, let’s not start WWIII today.”

‘Murica

Awesomely over the top. And unfortunately, we might not be the only ones going back to the moon.

I want to believe

This guy aimed a radio telescope at the moon when Apollo 11 landed and recorded the results. He was mildly disappointed when what was broadcast on the TV was what he heard.

Ahem.

There’s a reason we weren’t using organic growing methods and green soaps, detergents, etc. before it became the cool thing to do. Because they are inefficient, ineffective, more expensive and not really hurting us.

Well, let’s start with apples, which the EWG considers the most pesticide-laden fruit or vegetable out there, and look at the pesticide that is most commonly found on them, called Thiabendazole. Winter and his colleagues found that, each day from conventionally-grown apples and apple-based products, Americans typically consume a dose of Thiabendazole that is 787 times less than the EPA’s recommended exposure limit. Put another way, you’d have to eat as many apples and apple products as 787 Americans eat in a single day combined in order to be exposed to a level of this pesticide that approaches the EPA’s exposure limit.

Granted, we’re exposed to pesticides through other means, too, and some pesticides may have cumulative effects—but Winter says that even so, Americans won’t be ingesting anything close to the EPA’s limits for any of the pesticides used in U.S. agriculture. (And if you ever did ingest a pesticide at or above the EPA’s limit, you wouldn’t suddenly keel over and die.The agency sets pesticide limits at least 100 times lower than the lowest dose that caused any sign of harm, however minimal, to animals when they were fed that amount every day for most of their lives.) “We have a tremendous amount of data showing that what we’re exposed to in the diet for pesticides is very, very low, and certainly much lower than what would be required to have any even minimal health concern,” Winter says.

Nice

Merkel rebukes US and UK over their spying.

Merkel said that Western powers sacrificing freedom in the quest for security were sending the wrong signal to “billions of people living in undemocratic states”.

*cough*Franklin*cough*

Words have meaning

If you are the head of any branch of the government of the United States of America, you shouldn’t declare that you’re going to go ahead and ignore the other branches. It’s kinda stupid. At least say you’re going to work with the others.

“We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” Obama boasted Tuesday as he convened his first cabinet meeting of the year.

I grant you, Congress has been mostly useless since about 1998, but that doesn’t mean you get to throw out the basis of our government in the name of “moving forward”, wherever forward is.

A good list

Stupid things people waste way too much time on.

Relevant cat pic:
good news

Meanwhile in Ukraine

Because if you’re going to make improvised weapons, they might as well be spectacular.ukraine

“The Ukraine” or just “Ukraine”? I vaguely recall one makes them angry, but don’t recall which.

Some say the next series starts February 2

Nordic countries ease right

Apparently, the social welfare model only works when the economy is booming. Eventually it runs out of other people’s money. And even with a small, homogenous population ideal for a social welfare state, everyone loves an income tax cut.

Should I care?

I’m not convinced that having more government than Rwanda or Azerbaijan is a bad thing. To be fair I know little of their governments, like if they have them. Not true, I saw in the Ewan McGregor bike across Africa thing that Rwanda does have a president.I assume, though, they are mostly lawless hell-holes that operate on a system of family connections and bribery.

I do think being ranked behind Canada, Hong Kong and Australia is a bad sign. But we are still beating out Europe, China and the other BRIC countries so we have that going for us, which is nice. These smaller countries aren’t going to threaten our economic livelihood like they could.

The problem with net neutrality

A clear explanation of the Net Neutrality decision last week and why the free market doesn’t demand it. I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions, but not because their argument is wrong, they make a good case, but because in reality, it’s monopolies all the way down

There needs to be more competition in the broadband market before I’d be comfortable with “everyone set any price you’d like,” because my choices are Time-Warner Cable or crap speeds on DSL/satellite. We can talk about free market solutions when I see some fiber being laid down by Google or Verizon and there’s a possibility of a free market.

Harvard Lawyer, eh?

In an extensive interview with the paper, Davis said she had focused on general themes in her personal history, rather than being precise.

That’s what I look for in a lawyer and politician, someone who tells a good story and isn’t bogged down by, you know, facts.

Much bipartisan

It’s nice to see Dems and Repubs demanding transparency and accountability with Obamacare. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the upcoming elections, but then, that’s what makes America work.

Wah.

IMHO, the Little Sisters of Mercy should just fill out the exemption paper, but this take-down of the US News editorial show the hypocrisy of crying over the Sisters trying to impose their beliefs by the very people that actually have imposed their health-care beliefs on the rest of us.

And notice how every little health decision is now a matter of public policy and debate because the freaking government is involved. Yay.

The poor multi-billion dollar tech companies

How tech companies are dealing with their new-found distrust of the federal goverment.

At first we were in an arms race with sophisticated criminals,” says Eric Grosse, Google’s head of security. “Then we found ourselves in an arms race with certain nation-state actors [with a reputation for cyberattacks]. And now we’re in an arms race with the best nation-state actors.” Primarily, the US government.

It’ll be nice when the courts figure out that the internet counts as “papers and effects” and learns the definition of “particularly” doesn’t mean “all the things”.

And the poor, misunderstood NSA:

But they do not see any of those points as a reason to stop gathering data. They chalk all of that negativity up to monumental misunderstandings triggered by a lone leaker and a hostile press. NSA employees see themselves as dealing with genuine deadly threats to the nation, and it makes them crazy when people assume that spooks at Fort Meade are intent on stealing their privacy.

“It’s almost delusional,” Ledgett says. “I wish I could get to the high mountaintop to scream, ‘You’re not a target!’”

I’m not a target, great. But my information is (possibly? probably? see, I don’t know and that’s a problem) being scooped up too. Even if it unintentional and gets winnowed out later, it’s still being scooped up and I think that’s unconstitutional. But keep splitting those hairs. Let’s keep sliding into a police state. It’s for our own good!  Didn’t Franklin have something to say about that? Who cares, he’s dead and lived in a different world with different concerns! There were no anarchists and terrorists and splinter cells intent on the destruction of governments in his day! Carry on!

I shouldn’t have to engage security protocols to protect my internet stuff from my own government; criminals, sure, but not the government.

 

The irony makes me smile

The CIA supported abstract expressionism worldwide in attempt to make the US look more freedom loving.

The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.

The next key step came in 1950, when the International Organisations Division (IOD) was set up under Tom Braden. It was this office which subsidised the animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which sponsored American jazz artists, opera recitals, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s international touring programme. Its agents were placed in the film industry, in publishing houses, even as travel writers for the celebrated Fodor guides. And, we now know, it promoted America’s anarchic avant-garde movement, Abstract Expressionism.