Category Archives: Uncategorized

squee

Why we need the Three Laws

Because college students build AIs. The question is, can an AI tell the difference between a game and real life?

Aw, yiss

For the sake of posting

This has been on repeat on my computer for a few weeks:

And my house is connected to a public road

This needs to be overturned.

“[H]acking is much more prevalent now than it was even nine years ago, and the rise of computer hacking via the Internet has changed the public’s reasonable expectations of privacy,” the judge wrote. “Now, it seems unreasonable to think that a computer connected to the Web is immune from invasion. Indeed, the opposite holds true: In today’s digital world, it appears to be a virtual certainty that computers accessing the Internet can—and eventually will—be hacked.”

The logic of “well, hacking happens therefore no expectation of privacy on your computer” is like saying “well burglaries happen therefore no expectation of privacy in your home”.  Also, does this mean the government can no longer prosecute hackers?

You want my business, Apple?

This is how you get my business Apple. It required end to end encryption by all apps in case you can’t be bothered to click the link. I feel you homes.

For when I need it later

You know that thing Windows 10 does where the Start Menu icon stops working and you can only right click on it? Here’s a tool that should fix it.  http://aka.ms/diag_settings [direct download] Hurray!

Found it here: http://www.windows10forums.com/threads/ms-setting-display-and-ms-personalization-background-problem.1247/

Personal song of the day

Aphantasia

I have this, now that it’s a thing to have. Until I was an adult I assumed that “picture this” or “mind’s eye” was a euphemism because I didn’t realize that other people’s brains work differently. Apparently, most people, when you say a name, picture the person.  I can describe them because I know a list of facts about them, not because I’m describing a picture of them. How are you people not constantly distracted by your brains showing you things?

Don’t worry, the 4th amendment is fine, there’s judicial oversight

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the one that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed is allowing the government to obtain the metadata of every phone call to and from the United States, approved every surveillance request from US authorities in 2015.

I feel well protected by my civil rights. Oh wait, what’s the opposite of that?

A (long) look at what’s going on in the global oil market. Spoiler: Saudi Arabia and Iran are squabbling. There’s a few too many unsourced sources for my liking, but it’s something to bear in mind.

As a result of advances in drilling technology, however, the supply of oil has continued to grow, while demand has unexpectedly begun to stall. This can be traced both to slowing economic growth globally and to an accelerating “green revolution” in which the planet will be transitioning to non-carbon fuel sources. With most nations now committed to measures aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases under the just-signed Paris climate accord, the demand for oil is likely to experience significant declines in the years ahead. In other words, global oil demand will peak long before supplies begin to run low, creating a monumental challenge for the oil-producing countries.

On smugness

A (long) look at the smugness of American liberalism. It’s basically an appeal for Democrats to win back the poor and working-class whites, but it’s still interesting.

Americans and money

A ( long) look at middle-class America’s perilous economic situation. I don’t think he stresses the impact of credit cards enough.

Squeee!

The Madness of Crowds

Indiana University students mistake priest for klansman, freak out. Which says dire things about the students knowledge of society in general, but here’s what bothers me. What is inherently threatening about a person wearing a white robe? “He defies my narrowly construed social  norms, I’m scared!” I’m not saying ignore personal safety, but maybe pause and take a closer look. Could have been a klansman, could have been a priest, could have been an imam, could have been a dude that wanted to wear a robe today. And if that had been a Muslim, oh the intersectionality.

Some light reading: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. The internet just makes it easier for the madness to spread.

Holding hands and buying the world a Coke

Bash on Windows.

And here I thought it was the Aztek

A little Post Falls history.

Fewer than a hundred Cabaleros were ever made—proof of divinity, if there ever was such a thing—each hand-built in a place called Post Falls, Idaho.

The future is now

Your smartphone, now (well, in September) a 3-D printer.

The BBC on Trump

If there’s anything British politics would understand better than Americans, it’s class warfare.

The Madness of Crowds

The founders (and Lincoln) on the rise of Donald Trump. The founders distrust of everyone involved in politics is heartwarming.

Who saw this coming?

Oh wait, everyone, everyone saw this coming. A significant proportion of kids diagnosed with ADHD are more likely to just be immature than actually have ADHD.

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Approximations of success

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Good Job, Idaho

I’m so proud of you for not going Trump.

The best sentence in academia

From the University of Oregon. Apparently it’s not a prank…

Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.

Should glaciology strive to be just and equitable? Or maybe just true?

lol

In 1992 Biden said the president shouldn’t nominate a Supreme Court justice in an election year. This is what comes of basing opinions on politics and not principles.

Science!

Three-armed drummers. Because, why not.

Good.

Apple refuses to give the United States Government a backdoor for iphones.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

Their stance on security is one of the main reasons I got a iPhone 6 rather than going full android.

UPDATE: WHY ARE PEOPLE VOTING FOR HIM?! Actually, I heard a compelling comparison this morning, namely, he has mastered TV in a way no other politician can touch. Similarly, FDR was underestimated but his mastery of radio gave him the presidency.

Here’s the anti-valentine song every list is missing

well, here, have a little playlist:

 

No really, I don’t know

We’re running headlong into deflation, aren’t we? I have no experience with it. I guess I shoud put my money under my mattress?

This is amazing

Stem cell therapy enables MS sufferers to walk again. Science!

I give and give and give

Americans are the world’s most charitable.

Hey look, good news

Senator Lamar Alexander has gotten a bill passed that keeps Washington D.C. out of local education.  It’s sad that it took a couple terrible laws and twenty years to get it passed. Ah, government.

“We wrote into the law language specifically prohibiting the secretary of education from telling any state it has to adopt any specific academic standards, including Common Core,” Alexander said in a telephone conversation. “The department of education can’t incentivize, order, coerce, anything.

Stuck in the middle

A liberal takes on the PC left.

As for why they’re doing it, it’s like electing Corbyn. They’re too young to remember how crazy all this stuff was back in the 80s. So it seems exciting and sexy and different, unlike the boring, tolerant liberal consensus that has worked so well for so long.

Agitators gonna agitate.

What could go wrong?

Turkey fighting Russia? It’s not like there’s mutual defense pacts that will drag Western Europe into a massive war. It’s like Putin is taking a page out of Alexander’s book. Russian expansionism never ends well. Well, at least historically. Maybe this time it’ll be different.

Aw jeez, not this again

Another terrorist attack, another attempt to invade our privacy. How does one become an intelligence committee member? By showing a total lack of it? Do they ritually tear up a copy of the bill of rights as part of an initiation process?

Oh, irony*

Black Lives Matter seems to be following the Westboro Baptist playbook on protesting, which is a bad plan for so many reasons. Mostly because angering everyone is no way to win friends and influence people.

*probably. I make no promises, grammar nazis.

It comes earlier and earlier every year

It’s supposedly about the Starbucks Christmas cup, but really it’s an interesting look at the history of the most American of traditions, the commercialization of an idea, Christmas in this case.

This amuses me

Boldly going nowhere

How Star Trek explains the decline of liberalism. A bit long in the setup, but a good read.

What if Western Civilization already is meritocratic?

His solution is fascinating.

A lot of the resistance to this idea will come from a visceral dislike of anything that smacks of eugenics, for understandable historical reasons. But the main objection to eugenics, at least in the form it usually takes, is that it involves discriminating against disadvantaged groups, whether minorities or people with disabilities. What I’m proposing is a form of eugenics that would discriminate in favour of the disadvantaged.

TeP8yaW

Can’t argue with it

The unofficial car of Idaho is the Suburu Outback, which, from my observation is absolutely true.

What slippery slope?

Euthenasia, made legal in Belgium a decade ago, becomes common for more and more illnesses, some of which aren’t terminal.

There is a line between saving a life and not letting someone die by keeping them alive medically and once you cross that line it is kinder to end, rather than prolong, their suffering. But the mentally ill are, by definition, incapable of making that decision rationally.

Some light reading

On the pathological nature of trigger warnings.

Free speech: how gauche. I link to a review of it, reading the original article is also highly recommended.

This androgynous review of Lightspeed’s latest issue is hilarious.

Why it is impossible to teach the liberal arts today.

Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!

Top Gear is back on Amazon Prime! I really didn’t expect Amazon, I thought for sure it would be Netflix.

Microwaves: you can’t explain that.

So this EM drive keeps baffling scientists by working, despite breaking our known laws of physics.

This is cool

Amateur mapologist and the excessive numbers of secret maps of the Soviets.

Moderation in everything

Idaho does okay on the state of the state’s finances. The key to financial success seems to be having massive petroleum reserves. Much like the in the world economy.

10 is too many

It probably isn’t in the government’s interest to get rid of church tax-exemptions, so I suspect this is just loose talk by the left about eliminating another constitutional amendment that is not currently useful to them. And there’s been rumblings about this for at least a decade on the internet. It’s just a bit louder right now and will die back down. Still, it should be addressed.

The depiction of tax exemption of religious non-profits and churches as unfair is a bizarre view that would require assumption that all property naturally belongs to the state, and that allowing churches to keep the money they are given in donations is an act of largesse as opposed to a hedge against untoward influence of government.

So much this.

Scott Ott, not being satirical about Obergefell vs Hodges.

High on the “hmm” list

I’ve heard this environmental lead causes crime theory before, but here is a longer article about it.  It’s interesting.

Do you have a flag?

An uneven, but amusing, look at all 50 state flags. You want to see bad, check out Liberia’s county flags.

 

Just ignore that ruling and make your own

The fact that there is a secret court in America makes me unutterably sad. However well known it may be.

The Obama administration has asked a secret surveillance court to ignore a federal court that found bulk surveillance illegal and to once again grant the National Security Agency the power to collect the phone records of millions of Americans for six months.

It’s weaselly political machinations like this that give lawyers and politicians a bad name.

It makes me happy and sad

Summer Reading List

Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson. I found Mistborne to be meh, but I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Way of Kings,  though it could have used some editing down, so we’ll see how this one goes. Given that this tome clocks in at 1000 pages too, it counts as at least two books.

Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco. I enjoyed The Name of the Rose and I am a sucker for Well Read Moose‘s displays.

Shadow & Claw: The First Half of ‘The Book of the New Sun’ – Gene Wolfe. I’m being so literary this summer, no?

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia – Peter Hopkirk. Because that’s just a great phrase and Gunga Din was a good movie. If I manage to learn some history about the ‘stans all the better.

The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome – Susan Wise Bauer. My Saturday morning and standing in line reading.

Country for Rockers

Even thought it’s a list, it is pretty hard to argue with their top 10.  It’s interesting that rock has little room for modern country and the old stuff dominates.

On letting the Wookie win

It’s long, and a bit loose, but a good read about freedom, its expression, and safety and the obvious threats to western civilization today.

Oh, you’re doing it? I changed my mind.

The opposition to the over-the-counter birth control by Planned Parenthood, et al is interesting. It seems to me that greater access to contraception was one of their guiding principles. Now, one of the arguments against this bill is that allowing greater access would make health insurance superfluous. How weird to oppose something they’d purportedly been fighting towards when they realize they can’t use that as a hook to steer a larger piece of policy. It’s almost as if  principles don’t matter and everything is just a calculated attempt to maintain power over women.

The problem with science journalism

It’s really easy to hack.

Imperialism gets a shout out

Turns out there’s nothing like a relatively rich nation pouring capital into an underdeveloped one in order to exploit its resources to bring stability to an area.

I believe in free speech, but…

How to support limiting the First Amendment without coming out and saying “America should have speech codes that protect these certain groups of thought from dissent.”

To Serve Mankind

A Nigerian “restaurant” has been shut down for allegedly serving human.

A local priest who ate at the restaurant was alarmed at the prices it was charging after being presented with a bill for £2.20 – nearly four times the daily wage for millions of Nigerian labourers.

He was told the high cost was because of the piece of meat he had eaten. “I did not know I had been served human meat, and it was that expensive,” he said.

Wow. Just wow. Wow. I think the takeaway here is don’t overcharge if you don’t want to get caught.

Using 1984 as a guide book

This is insane. The UK is looking to enforce speech codes in the name of free speech. David Cameron says:

“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.

“This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach. As the party of one nation, we will govern as one nation and bring our country together. That means actively promoting certain values.”

Everyone, really, EVERYONE in Britain should be afraid of this. Muslims are going to be shut down. UKIPers are going to be shut down. If Tories are in power, Labour is going to be shut down. When Labour is in power, Tories are going to be shut down. Anyone that disagrees with whoever happens to be in control of the government at that moment are going to be shut down. As someone in the comments in the link says, “Everyone is an extremist to someone.”

RIP B.B. King

Nice hair

A surprisingly deep look at poached toast on eggs.

Useless trivia for today

Why bandaids smell like they do. Also, scotch, synthetic insulin and sharpies.

Heh.

Salman Rushdie has some thoughts for the writers that are boycotting the PEN awards over the Charlie Hebdo thing.

It’s the future now

The orbiting satelllite took a picture of our robot surveyor ON ANOTHER PLANET!

pia19392-main_hirise-msl-artistsdrive_box

Limey makes a good point

At this point Jeb doesn’t have a chance. Of course, it’s early yet.

That system, as Jefferson kept telling anyone who’d listen, depended on constantly changing the people at the top. If certain families got it into their heads that the republic was their plaything, America would descend into oligarchy as surely as if it had a hereditary nobility.

Are we really contemplating another Bush-Clinton contest in 2016? I mean, Jeb Bush strikes me as a decent sort and, as I’ve written here before, Republicans badly need Hispanic support. But in a nation of 320 million, the law of averages suggests that there must be some capable candidates with a surname other than Bush or Clinton.

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Oh, I laughed and laughed

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How completely unsurprising

The government was tracking phone calls through the 1990s, well before the Patriot Act. So much for it being for security.

The war on drugs. Terrorism. I can’t wait to see the next excuse. Quick, we need a crisis.

ximshockedsg3

Great News!

What?

 

RIP Terry Prachett

You really should read some of his books. I like the Night Watch ones best.

“I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?”
Death thought about it.
CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.”
Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

This is why we need 3-D printers

We do what we must because we can.

This just makes me sad

Americans can’t read, number or computer. And the kids aren’t any better at computering. It gets worse if you actually click on the sample questions because HOW COULD YOU GET ANY OF THOSE WRONG? (I’ll grant you the interest one requires some thinking, but still…)

I remain cautiously optimistic

It will be interesting to see if this pans out. On the one hand it’s Lockheed Martin, not some random guy in his basement. On the other hand, fusion. It’s never gone right yet. On the other hand, ten years out, which means never in real terms.

Researcher Translation

RIP Leonard Nimoy

The internet, the FCC and Congress

So, I’m not against the FCC classifying the internet as a common carrier. And surprisingly I’m not against the bureaucracy having control. Because I can’t trust Congress to treat it right. They’ve sold out. The only thing keeping it free so far was the hue and cry from the public every time a new bill came out. Which was regularly. Sooner or later, Comcast was going to slip something past us and we certainly can’t rely on congress to do the right thing and turn away so much money.

On the plus side:

As expected, the FCC’s new rules forbid ISPs from charging Internet users for special treatment on their networks. It will also reach interconnection between ISPs and transit providers or edge services, allowing the FCC to ensure that ISPs don’t abuse their gatekeeper authority to favor some services over others.

That’s great for making sure websites and services can reach ISP customers, but what about making sure customers can choose for themselves how to use their Internet connections without interference from their ISPs? To accomplish this, the FCC has banned ISPs from blocking or throttling their customers’ traffic based on content, applications or services—which means users, hackers, tinkerers, artists, and knowledge seekers can continue to innovate and experiment on the Internet, using any app or service they please, without having to get their ISP’s permission first.

Even better, the rules will apply to wireless and wired broadband in the same way, so you don’t have to worry that your phone switching from Wi-Fi to a 4G network will suddenly cause apps not to work or websites to become inaccessible.

Will there be horrible unintended consequences from this? It is certainly possible. It’s a sad state of affairs when the bureaucracy is more responsive than the people’s representatives.

It’s a sad state of affairs

The only thing protecting the average American from privacy violations by our government is a smidgen of principle but mostly self-interest by big businesses.

Flip all the switches!

An SR-71 cockpit. Front and rear. I would have to tap the gauges when they give me bad news so then they’ll give me good news.

You should find a copy of Sled Driver and read it. Maybe the library will have one.

This is amazing stuff

Super elite hacking that, probably, the NSA has been doing since before Windows XP was released. When Stuxnet is just a minor offshoot, you know that’s some elite hacking. Basically, your only hope is that the NSA doesn’t care about you.

“The discovery of the Equation Group is significant because this omnipotent cyber espionage entity managed to stay under the radar for almost 15 years, if not more,” Raiu said. “Their incredible skills and high tech abilities, such as infecting hard drive firmware on a dozen different brands, are unique across all the actors we have seen and second to none. As we discover more and more advanced threat actors, we understand just how little we know. It also makes us reflect about how many other things remain hidden or unknown.”

You can practice your l33t typing skills here.

So, Happy Lunar New Year

Srs bsns

A long look at what ISIS believes and how it is informing their attempt to takeover of the world.

Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”

So, if history is any guide, as soon as the external threat reaches a low enough ebb, the massive in-fighting will begin and it will all fall apart.

Also, wow, Australia is more illiberal than I thought.

The greatest trailer…

…in the world.

My Year In Books

I didn’t do a lot of reading this year.

Duh

Undervaccinated community in Michigan has outbreak of whooping cough and measles among their children. Do these people think their parents and grandparents immediately latched onto vaccinations as soon as they were developed for fun? Or maybe it was because the risk of vaccinations was so much less than the actual misery caused by the diseases.

As the prophet Asimov wrote

Oh look, boffins are trying to make robots 3-laws compliant. Once again, reading science fiction has led to a duh moment as fiction becomes reality. Of course, in Asimov’s stories all the robots found or had loopholes created for them by humans. Spoiler: It never ended well for the robot.

There oughta be a law

On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.

Just wanted to share that thought.

Good job, NASA

Even if you did launch at some insanely early hour. And who are these weird voices. I’m used to the ISS guys. Voices I can trust for all my space rocket launch commentary.

Top X songs of 2014

Because Time and Rolling Stones lists are crap. Alright, the Stones list wasn’t so bad, just backwards, mostly. Of course with 50 songs to choose from it’s like “the songs that were released in 2014”.

This was pretty hard because most of the songs I liked from the first half of the year are from albums released in 2013. I managed though.

  1. Greens And Blues – Pixies. Yeah, yeah, doesn’t sound like them. Still love it. 

  2. Tourniquet – Jeremy Messersmith

  3. Alone In My  Home – Jack White. Also on that album, Just One Drink.

  4. Brill Bruisers – The New Pornographers

  5. Trainwreck 1979 – Death From Above 1979

Honorable Mention

  1. We Are Done – Madden Brothers

  2. Back To The Shack – Weezer. Because Weezer. Maybe not all the way back, but hey.

 

As with all SNL skits it goes on about a minute too long, but this is pretty good

D’aww

So I read What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, which is great, btw. My only complaint is that it should be like three times longer because more is better. But I love this comic.

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LOL

Reeking of desperation, the Justice Department pulls out the classic chestnut, “Think of the children!” to try to get Apply to provide backdoor decryption for iPhones. How sad.

Shut it down, Lemon

I knew I should have bought Goat Simulator when it was on sale last week. Dang it.

Hey, look! A shut-it-down supercut

Some small crumb of privacy

There’s something about this quote I don’t like.

“The FBI has a sworn duty to keep every American safe from crime and terrorism, and technology has become the tool of choice for some very dangerous people,” Comey said in the speech at the Brookings Institution.

I don’t quite know what it is, but it just doesn’t sound right.  Something about keeping safe rather than investigating crimes. Anyway, the FBI is still upset that Apple can’t unencrypt phones at the FBIs whim and probably won’t rest until they have access to everything you own.

A 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, forces telephone companies to build surveillance technologies into their networks to allow law enforcement to install wiretaps. But the law hasn’t been updated and doesn’t cover new networks and devices.

Comey called for Congress to revise the law to create a “level playing field” so that Google, Apple, and Facebook have the same obligation as AT&T and Verizon to help police.

I think they should level the playing field by un-obligating AT&T and Verizon from spying on us.

The poor 4th Amendment

Here’s a shocker. Sneak and peek warrants designed to be used to fight terrorism are being used for anything but that. Who could have seen that coming? Oh wait… everyone saw that coming. I’m pretty sure it was considered a feature.

Can we repeal the Patriot Act, get rid of the TSA and dismantle the Department of Homeland Security yet?

Boom

Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t be prepared for an Ebola outbreak (or hurricane or earthquake or other disaster).  There are reasonable steps to take, like not going near ebola-infected people or countries.  Not touching dead or sick people. For those of us that aren’t medical professionals, it shouldn’t be too hard to stay safe. This is not the same thing as panicking.

Also, I notice how two of the three people in the US that have ebola have acted contrary to public interest. Now, there are plenty of other people in America that were in West Africa and haven’t been incredibly stupid. But so far, they don’t have ebola. I don’t like saying it, but the government needs to implement some sort of control over the movements of those that have a reasonable chance of being infected.

Earth

It’s true

This recent social justice  wave makes women look weak and in need of protection from the men of society.  I’m looking at you gamergate, #yesallwomen and the whole scifi/fantasy writing community. Thank you for your patronizing concern that I don’t get my feelings hurt and that representatives of my voice are heard. No doubt it comes from a genuine concern for equality, which is commendable.  But if books like Ancillary Justice, with, granted, good writing, but massive plot holes left undisturbed* to make sure that your anvilicious point gets through are your answer to equality issues, you’re doing it wrong. Anne McCaffery wrote a far more coherent story 50 years ago.

I didn’t know I was underrepresented in books and games until some man came along and told me I was (so thanks for that), mostly because there are so many games with playable female characters and books with female protagonists. And, don’t tell anyone, but I don’t mind if main characters are different genders, races, or creeds from me. I might accidentally learn something about that gender, race or creed from playing/reading them.

And Tumblr and their whole trigger-warning, cis, check your privilege thing is so ridiculous that they cannot be taken seriously.

Anyway, here’s the article that set that rant off.

Add this all up and you have today’s “thought leaders” telling women they need to be spoken to gently, need the government to guard them from harsh words and uncomfortable topics, that their setbacks are always someone else’s fault and that they aren’t in control of their own lives.

 

*Brain the size of a planet, can’t make judgement calls about gender 3-year olds manage every day. Doesn’t manage to learn these things despite hundreds of years outside its own culture. What kind of crap sensor system can’t detect estrogen levels? I am all about the suspension of disbelief, I will just roll with so many ridiculous things if you’re telling me a good story, if I can’t grant you this, it’s not good.

A baby volcano

The shockwave hitting is very cool.

Duh

Remember how ebooks used to be cheaper than print books? This is what happens when you jack up the price of ebooks. You sell less of them. For some reason it’s not in the publisher’s interest to sell more ebooks. It’s a vast, contentious subject I care nothing about except as it affects the price of my ebooks. Which should be cheaper.

Doctor What?

Doctor Who series 8 “Kill The Moon” spoilers below…

A. That shirt. Thank goodness it was covered by space suits with ridiculous knee pockets for most of the show.

1. Courtney,  NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. No. No. No. No. No. Never show her again.tumblr_lrs4932dQt1qb455b

B. The science. Or more like, the absolute lack of science. The anti-science even. Miracles happen, but there were a lot of them in this show. A LOT. Miraculous numbers of miracles.

A growing creature cannot just add mass willy-nilly. The mass comes from the egg. A 30 second google led me to this: .  “Chick weight is primarily determined by initial egg weight, normally being 62–78% of egg weight…” Notice, chickens don’t suddenly weight six times as much as their egg right before they hatch. They weight less than the egg they came from.  So the moon should have been weighing less and less as the baby gobbled up amniotic fluid. Because matter has to come from somewhere. It’s not created ex nihilo (anymore).

Then, when any animal hatches it leaves its shell laying around in, generally, a couple large pieces. They do not instantaneously vaporize. Nor do newly-born creatures immediately lay another egg larger than their current body size.

Microbes don’t change size based on the size of their host. The microbes on a cat are the same size as the ones on you. Also, what were the microbes hoping to catch in their webs? Moon insects? Perhaps the word they were looking for was “parasites”. Let’s not go into how the disinfectant killed them.

I am willing to give the dragon the benefit of the doubt and assume the wings are ion sails or something of the sort that enable him to move through airless vacuum and not vestigal airfoils on a space-based creature.

So earth is already ravaged by a moon whose miraculous weight gain should be throwing the tides around, creating tectonic stress and therefore earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tidal waves.

There’s a significant chance that the “shell” will be captured by earth’s gravity well and bombard the planet with massive rocks, utterly devestating the planet, before all the orbit decay happens.

Without the moon at all, the earth will fall out of our nice orbit that enables regular seasons and the surface of the earth’s temperature not varying wildly somewhere between -100C and 400C. There would be no steady day and night, seasons would be screwed up, just about all life on earth would die. Some extremophiles might live for a while.

Without the moon we would be lucky for our orbit not to decay and  either plunge us toward the sun or spin us off into outer space.  ALL LIFE ON EARTH, not just the billions of humans, ALL LIFE ON EARTH will be destroyed.

I grant you in the Whoniverse, there’s a lot of other life out there, so maybe one little planet full of humans doesn’t matter so much. So yeah, lets just give the little feller a chance.

Know what the right choice, the choice not predicated on “and then magic will save us” is? Kill the moon.

C. I can understand Clara’s anger. She was scared and embarrassed and that made her angry. Totally get that. She’s going to be sorry later, though, when she’s no longer scared and embarassed. It’s a shame because I’m going to miss the Doctor’s oblivious insults.

I can tolerate anything except intolerance. Or the Dutch.

It’s really long for the internet, but still a good read on who the “other” really is in America.

So what makes an outgroup? Proximity plus small differences. If you want to know who someone in former Yugoslavia hates, don’t look at the Indonesians or the Zulus or the Tibetans or anyone else distant and exotic. Find the Yugoslavian ethnicity that lives closely intermingled with them and is most conspicuously similar to them, and chances are you’ll find the one who they have eight hundred years of seething hatred toward.

So young, so cynical

Have a Frank J quote.

Frankly, though we’re at the point where saying that Republicans are misogynistic, racist extremists who want nothing more than to drown puppies in front of crying children is not the same thing as saying they’re worse than Democrats.

Or, my favorite:

So all that’s really at stake in this election is maybe just slowing down the damage a bit until 2016, when some actual change is possible. The next president is still going to be either a Republican or a Democrat, so I wouldn’t get my hopes too high about anything significant happening

Well, this turned into a rant

I get why the government is involved in regulating drugs, but man it’s annoying that all these health care decisions have to be debated by the public. And it’s only going to get worse.

The bickering over the details about how such a plan might work and whose concern for women is more sincere obscures a pretty amazing fact: Everyone seems to agree that selling birth control over the counter is a good idea. That’s remarkable consensus within the minefield that is women’s health.

It is EXTREMELY irritating that women’s health is a political minefield while men’s health is not. The government should just not have very much say over my healthcare. Ensure full disclosure of drug effects and side-effects, and that doctors are competent. That’s plenty for the government to do. This would be too easy, though, and heaven forfend the congressmen, senators, and bureaucrats of our country not get to put their two cents in.

Bill Clinton talks business sense

Good thing he’s not running for anything, cause his base might hate this. Although, it can’t hurt the donations from Wall Street. And maybe because it’s a democrat saying it, they’ll accept it.

“We have the highest overall corporate tax rates in the world, and we are now the only O.E.C.D. country that also taxes overseas earnings,” Mr. Clinton said. “A lot of these executives, even if they wanted to bring the money home, they think this is crazy.”

It’s a paradox

I totally agree with the gist of this article, however there’s a problem.

What’s the alternative? Put humans back in charge. Law should generally be an open framework, mainly principles and goals, leaving room for responsible people to make decisions and be held accountable for results. Law based on principles leaves room for the decision-maker always to act on this question: What’s the right thing to do here?

You need responsible people making decisions. I don’t doubt that a lot of public service workers, maybe even most of them, are trying to do the right thing. But there’s enough that aren’t to make all that stupid granularity seemingly necessary. Kicking that ant hill over is going to create some chaos.

BECAUSE REASONS!

IT’S NOT MALWARE, IT’S A FEATURE. Guess what I’m doing the end of October.

Cookie monster and Narrator are on the top of their game here

In astronomy news

Nothing happened. There should have been an earth-shattering kaboom. Or some X-rays. Same-same. I like that the universe keeps surprising us.

Good

Apple’s new encryption makes it impossible(?) for them to access users phones even if law enforcement/government demands it. It’s about time. And now there’s actually a good reason to upgrade. Shame iCloud can’t be treated the same way. Ahem.

Oh aye

PJ O’Rourke is looking forward to the Scottish independence for a variety of mildly amusing, colorful and colloquial reasons.

Ah, there’s nothing like a primitive, quarrel-torn, disastrous Third World country. And Scotland has everything it needs to be what old-school foreign correspondents fondly call a “****-hole.”

That is certainly the impression I get from the British TV and Craig Fergusons I watch. The Doctor is the only one that seems to like the area. Near as I can tell everyone else thinks it’s full of obese, welfare-dependent drunkards that’ll fry anything and then fight you for it.

I find the political wranglings of these tiny areas quaint and don’t know why they don’t just set up a state system like the US. They manage to have some economic clout with the 60 million on the island. Start chopping that up and it’s going to get ugly. It’s a numbers game, people, keep dividing that pie up and soon you’re only getting some crumbs and a glop of cherry filling and no one gets a nice slice of pie.

Useful for your next audit

Whenever we can, we follow the law,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health on Wednesday.

Me too, Mr. IRS guy, me too.

Salami tactics

As we try to tiptoe away from a massive war in the Middle East and Eastern Europe we don’t dare draw a line in the sand against either radical Islam or Russia. And by “we” I mean NATO, basically. It will be tricky putting out these regional flare-ups without them turning into WWIII. Putin counts on that.

Yes, Minister, full of timeless truths.

Literally, it just gets better and better

The outtakes are awesome too:

And it’s pronounced “guh-ifs”. “Jifs” are a peanut butter.

Delusions of grandeur

These legal things are always more nuanced and complicated than the reporting makes them out to be, but geez it sounds like a maniacal power/data grab. Is the government deliberately trying to drive every company from our borders? Maybe if you stop with the massive sweeps of data that destroy tech companies reputations, tech companies would stop trying to run away from you. Just throwing that out there.

Who knew?

I don’t doubt that there’s a bro vibe at many tech companies but are these women aware of how computers are programmed?

And so you can see the favoring of the analytic, the favoring of breaking things down into their parts, the favoring of thought versus feeling, and women will tend to look at problems in a more holistic manner. They’ll look at not just the goal but the journey to get there. They’ll look at the feeling state and the experience of the work itself as being important variables.

Although, it’s nice to hear someone say that just because a solution sounds nice doesn’t mean it’s doing good. Sometimes actual results do matter.

You think it’s a long way down to the chemists

Did you need a life size picture of the Andromeda galaxy?

Life finds a way

Sea plankton are trying to take over the Russian side of the International Space Station. NASA disavows any knowledge of the plankton’s actions.

Why the press covers Israel the way it does

A former AP editor explains why he thinks the news gets Israel wrong so much. And how it’s going to bite them on the butt soon.