Hit Coffee is the story of Will Truman (trumwill),
transplant in the mountain west with an IT background who bides his time
substitute teaching while his wife brings home the bacon.
This site is a collection of reflections
on the goings-on in his life and in the world around him. You will probably
be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the
third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.
Greetings from Callie, Arapaho, a red town in a red state known for growing
red meat. And from Redstone, Arapaho(Aw-RAH-pah-hoe), a blue city with blue collar roots that's been feeling blue
for quite some time.
Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though
if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character
and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.
This website is maintained by Guy Webster (web),
who also contributes from time to time.
Web hails from the midwest and currently lives
in Truman's home city of Colosse, Delosa. He works as a utility IT person at
Southern Tech University, their alma mater.
Also contributing is Sheila Tone (stone) a West Coaster, breeder, and lawyer
who has probably hooked up with some loser just like you and sees through
your whole pathetic little act.
Music allegedly has a virtuoso glut. Talent outpaces opportunity. This has always been the case, though. It’s just that in the past, people grasped it more quickly and moved on. Now, though, anyone can produce their own CD and dream the impossible dream, so the dreams are kept alive and the appearance is given that talent is increasing. Also, the standards against what we call “talent” may be decreasing.
Political prognosticator Allan Lichtman says that an Obama re-election is imminent. His 7-for-the-last-7 streak sounds impressive, until you realize that five of them weren’t close, one of them involved a winner whose actual victory was somewhat dubious, and if he guessed in the 1980 election he got it wrong. Oh, and the Weekly World News Alien’s streak goes back to 1980.
Is Germany stalling? I have been impressed with the German model for a while now, but it’s always problematic to credit policies and models and suggest that they would work elsewhere if given the chance, whether Germany, Ireland, or Texas.
The President of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, has banned cell phones at cabinet meetings. Why, he’s no better than Zelaya! Except that he’s following the constitution and will almost certainly step down without incident when his term expires…
New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was excluded from the GOP debates due to his low standing in the polls. Now that he’s beating Huntsman and Santorum in the polls (within the margin of error, of course)… they’re still being included and he’s not.
Since it was discovered that Amazon is selling more ebooks than actual books, there’s been a new wave of proclamations that print is dead and ebooks are the future. Here’s Megan McArdle:
Printing and distributing books is a large industry with significant economies of scale. If too few people buy print books, the cost of the remaining books will start to rise. Eventually, more and more applications will switch to the winning medium, even if individuals miss being able to flip through books. There will be specialty applications, but they will be very expensive.
The problem I see with this is that it does not seem to me that economies of scale are going to be the death of (or cause of irrelevancy of) the publishing industry. Publishing has become more flexible than ever. Print-on-Demand is a growth industry. The overhead on getting a book ready to print - absent other costs - has gotten so low that John Q Public can do it. The more expensive part, really, is product selection, marketing, and editing. These are things that you have to do whether going digital or print. And once you’ve done all that legwork for the ebook, why not offer a published version as well?
So will printing become more niche? Probably so. The gadgeteer in me loves it, but for the fact that DRM means that it’s not just physical books being tossed by the wayside, but actual ownership of the books. But I don’t think that it will ever reach the point of being actually niche. It still offers a product that eBooks don’t. You don’t have to worry about batteries. You can read during take-off and landing of airplanes. You have total ownership (including the ability to trade back and forth as much as you like). And it’s decoration. The first three strike up a crucial difference between CDs and MP3s, though the last part applies to both.
To me, the promise of eBooks is not as a replacement for printed books. Rather, it’s the creation of an entirely new medium. It doesn’t seem like the publishers have really caught on to it, though. The electronic nature allows eBooks the ability to do something that’s much harder to do in print. Namely, hyperlinks.
Never has this become more apparent than listening to the audiobook for the Game of Thrones series. Here you have an unbelievable number of characters and families sprawling all over the Seven Kingdoms. At the end of every book is an appendix giving a rundown of all of the families. Obviously, with a book you can always flip to the back, but with electronic text, you can simply tap on a name whenever it appears and be reminded. “Jacen Bloke, Duke of Westerland, son of Aron Bloke, twin brother to Jaren Bloke, died on the Battle of the Riverfront” and so on (all descriptions wouldn’t need to be the same - they might just need to contain the relevance of the mention).
My first attempt at writing a novel was a little over fifteen years ago, though it took place last year. Because I was dealing with a 15-year leap in time, there were a lot of various things I referred to that the main character wouldn’t explain in his narrative because everybody knows who President Tsongas was. So I used a lot of footnotes. Two of my four novels have, for different reasons, an obscene number of characters. I have an appendix in back to help keep them straight. Of course, it’s hard to put things in an appendix that don’t give away stuff that happens in the novel. Not a problem with footnotes or hyperlinks. I’m still developing in my mind a detective series in a fictitious state. There’s a good chance I would be using footnotes there the same way I did in the first novel I tried (and failed) to write.
But what can be done with footnotes is simply nothing compared to what you can do with hyperlinks. Books have a more standard beginning, middle and end. It’s much easier for ebooks to be fluid, to be able to go back and forth between the main story and background. Some people don’t give a rats arse about background. You could actually give readers the option to skip it. Or, if they skipped it and they wish they hadn’t, a single place they can go in order to see all of the background stuff.
Right now, ebooks are just books in digital format. Change that, and you change everything. You allow for the telling of different kinds of stories. You allow for something that makes printed books really obsolete, and not just because they don’t have a power button.
The laptop that my work issued me did not come with enough RAM or hard drive space. The first part was easily-remedied, the second part less so. There was some encryption software installed that made any sort of cloning from small hard drive to large hard drive more trouble than it was worth. So I reinstalled Windows from scratch.
How secure is Windows 7? So secure that I hadn’t even finished installing all of my software before I’d gotten invaded by a host of spyware and adware. Now, generally speaking, adware has to be conspicuous in order to be effective. I get that. The spyware/malware, on the other hand, is completely getting it wrong.
If I am making some sort of spyware, one of my main goals is that it is not discovered. If I make spyware that sucks up 90% of the CPU on a quad-core machine, it’s not going to take people long to either start looking for the problem say “screw it” and reinstall Windows. It makes the computer that they’re trying to gather data from useless. People will be less inclined to use it. With a little bit of discipline, that thing culd have been on my computer for weeks and weeks without my knowing about. The virus scanner didn’t find it. I wouldn’t have known. Instead, I tracked down the file I was looking for and hit “delete” and that was that.
It’s usually the making of a bad movie when the bad guy is so bad that he gets in his own way. Yet, for the spyware industry, it seems to be standard operating procedure.
There’s a rather disturbing case out of North Dakota involving a student at UND facing disciplinary action on a rape that the police actively believe did not occur. It’s not just that the police are failing to press charges, but rather, they are wanting to prosecute the accustor for giving a false statement.
Now men, broadly speaking, and often conservatives, will look at this case with due outrage. And, to be honest, they’re not all wrong here. The recent moves by the Obama Administration to needle schools into loosening the standards of evidence to make it easier for schools to take action make a lot of undesirable things possible.
On the other hand, we don’t know why the police are going after the woman, what lie they might have caught her in, and so on. It could be that the evidence against her is pretty thin. We shouldn’t necessarily assume otherwise. Horrifying accusations on overreaching retaliation against accusers has been known to happen.
Rape really is one of those cases where there is a zero-sum balance. Made more complicated by the disparity in gender between accusor and accused. As a man (in the United States, at any rate), it was never likely that I would be sexually assaulted. Likewise, it is unlikely that a woman would ever be falsely accused of rape. This always leads both sides to minimize the danger of the other. If you’re going to err in one direction or the other, err against them!
Our arguments are always buttressed by our perceptions of likelihood. One in four women are raped! Half of rape accusations are false! When, in reality, we just don’t know all that goes on. Both of these numbers are disturbing. Putting the thumb on the scales to “encourage women to come forward” by refusing to name them even in cases where they have long been discredited (Chrystal Mangum) may encourage rape victims to come forward, but it also provides protection for people who would make such accusations frivolously. And “but no woman would do that!” sounds pretty hollow. The person saying that wouldn’t do it, but there are some crazy women out there. Likewise, though, the one-in-four estimation is truly horrifying. And demands action. And our system has a horrible history of not taking claims of rape seriously.
The easiest way out of this mental logjam is, of course, to simply choose to disbelieve whichever statistics are inconvenient to your perspective. One in four women aren’t raped. They only think they were because they had sex they later regretted. Or the sampling is flawed. Half of rape accusations are not false, and here are the flaws with the study. And to be honest, I couldn’t begin to sort it all out. And since almost everybody has a vagina, and therefore is most likely to be a victim or rape than ever falsely accused of it, or a penis, and therefore is more likely to be falsely accused than raped, everyone has a skin in the game.
Junk science is inadmissible in court, but junk economics is a-ok. Of course, economists in general have more to prove at this point than scientists…
A study shows that schools perform better without collective bargaining. Since it confirms my biases, I am going to agree with the findings and completely overlook the fact that there do not appear to have been any SES controls whatsoever.
The always-fun topic of lottery winners and bankrupcy. While winning the lottery doesn’t appear to solve their financial problems, it doesn’t appear to create them, either. Basically, they’re the kind of people that go bankrupt anyway.
I recently wrote about SSD drives. Farhad Manjoo recently wrote about the same thing. As came up in the comments section, this is something that Amiga was doing 15 years ago.
It may be good to be king, but it’s dangerous to be king.
In the run-up to the new college football season, the Home Sports Channel (HSC) has been playing some reruns from last football season. Last season included some heartbreaking losses, so I had to choose which game I might want to (re-)watch carefully. But when they showed the late season Eastern Metro Conference rivalry game between Southern Tech and the Piermont Riptide. That one had a happy ending, so I recorded it and watch some of it last night.
Here was the frustrating thing. They showed our opening drive all the way from our own five to the other three… and then jumped ahead. Skipping over the touchdown itself. What did they skip ahead to? They skipped ahead past the touchdown and kickoff (from the endzone, because there was an unsportsmanlike victory dance I might not have minded seeing) to the announcers chatting while a lineman who got hurt on the return has a trainer stretch his leg.
While DirecTV has a special channel devoted to showing all of the touchdowns anywhere in the NFL, HSC is just skipping over touchdowns.
I get that these things are tough. They have to show the lineman stretching his leg because it’s part of a drive in which Piermont scores a touchdown. But still, they really do make the strangest editorial decisions.
I’m finally starting to get paid for my Commodus work on a more regular basis. The paychecks are nice. A little too nice, actually. Uncle Sam and the state are only taking out about a third, when it needs to be about 40-45%. This was not entirely unexpected. Though I had taking 0 deductions, anything I make goes to our highest tax brackets. They had a formula that you can use in order to take more out, but it appears that you can’t say “take out an additional 10%” but only “take out an extra $x.” Which would be fine if my paychecks were a constant amount. But depending on if I have scant work or am working overtime, they could be taking an extra $100 out of a paycheck for $120, or taking $100 out of a paycheck out of $x,000. Until my hours stabilize, I’m going to just have to remember that I am going to owe the government(s) some money.
Alex Knapp writes about how E-Readers may save reading. Abel writes about how the iPad solved his eBook dilemma. On the first item, I have a post I’ve been needing to write for some time now.
Grist reports that eating healthy is hard but not impossible for low-income Americans. This is helpful in the sense that no, poor people aren’t fat because they cannot afford not to be. This is not helpful in the sense that I am a nutritional nihilist and I don’t think they are any more interested in eating healthy than I am. Then again, maybe if we just make the forks larger…
The self-examination that higher education would rather not conduct. For all of his faults (and they appear to be legion), Texas Governor Rick Perry has made some of this a priority. We’ll have to see how WGU-Texas goes.
I’m with ED Kain on this one: This is blackmail. Brilliant, legal blackmail. On the other hand, in concept, how different is it than “We will list your phone number unless you pay us not to”?
100 years ago, the Mona Lisa was stolen by a self-described Italian patriot.
I used to think it was odd that I had only worked for small-ish businesses. It turns out to be not unusual at all. They provide 54% of total paid employees and are 64% of total US job creation. When we talk about “small businesses”, it’s really not the sort of hokum that we need propped up for nostalgia’s sake, as with family farms. This stuff matters.
I have a business trip to a place once known as the rust belt, but apparently does not lay claim to that distinction anymore. It’ll be the first time I’ve been in the eastern time zone since my majority, I think.
I’m not sure how much downtime I will have, but I’ll keep up with things as best I can.
One of the nice things about the house where we live is our yard. It’s just over a half-acre. It’s a wonderful yard.
The problem is that we have this wonderful yard that we can almost never use. It is constantly being watered.
Last summer, it started around 3 or 4 in the morning and was done by the time I got up, unless I was getting up early to make the drive to Redstone for substitute teaching. But they went in and made some changes, and the result is that while it’s not literally on all the time, it’s on far more than it’s off.
It works in rotation. This part of the lawn is being watered. Then that part. The rotations don’t last all that long, so it’s not like from 7-9 it’s here, 9-11 it’s there. Instead it seems to go on 15 or maybe 30 minute intervals. So this means, even if you are in a part of the yard that is not being watered, it’s liable to go off and any point.
I’ve gotten nailed twice, smoking by the side of the house.
It does make the lawn look fabulous. It’s far greener this year than it was last year. But last year, at least, I was able to go out onto the yard.
I’ve been sitting on this post, trying to decide when to post it. A thread this weekend on League of Ordinary Gentlemen gave me reason to. In essence, the same thing that more-than-likely happened at the Blog I Won’t Name Outright happened at LOOG: one of the moderators decided it would be funny to demonstrate his power and position not by excising comments that crossed a line, nor by redacting certain words/lines with a notation “from the moderator” to that effect, but instead by simply rewriting the comments and making it appear (superficially) as if they had been written by the original commenter all along.
I’ll run the originally planned post and then get back to my thoughts.
Occasionally, I wander over to a certain blog whose name I don’t really want to link to, just to see how things are.
For those who wish to piecemeal the name together, it starts with “little”, has a color, and then mentions the name of the ball associated with the most popular pro sport in America today and/or the name of the ball used by the other “worldwide most popular sport.”
The commentariat has changed there, and yet has not. Once, it was pretty much a rabidly right-wing echo chamber that consisted of many people shouting epithets. Now, due to a conversion for unknown reasons, it has morphed into a rabidly left-wing echo chamber that consists of… many people shouting epithets.
What intrigued me, however, wasn’t that. It was the way the owner of the blog made his “point” in attacking someone who strayed outside of the enforced groupthink.
First, he blocked their account. He has a long history of doing this to enforce groupthink.
Second… he removed all the vowels from their posts. It’s called disemvowelling, and while it’s cutesy to some, it leaves open a wider door and could even violate policies or legality. It also does nothing to lower the temperature of debate, instead of serving as a method of causing someone to get angrier. And if there’s anything the web needs, it’s LESS angry people, not more.
It’s the second that gets me. Specifically, it gets me because this individual has made a habit of accusing people he is kicking out of the blog of making crazy/racist/offensive statements on his blog. Many people have said, previously, that anything in his site is suspect. He’s been caught re-editing old posts before, “disappearing” many things down the memory hole. A number of the banned posters have indicated via other blogs/websites that they did NOT make the statements that are or were held up on his site as the “reason” they were banned.
There is an integrity question for bloggers. People know that posts can be deleted. They know that people can be banned for crossing certain lines. But at some point, a blogger crosses the line to where it seems an entirely reasonable suggestion that the “banned” users were actually the target of a frame-up job.
And that’s just not cool.
Now, in the case of the LOOG thread that I link to above, the commenter (posting under the moniker “J Stewart”, whether Jimmy or John being left to audience imagination) probably crossed a line or three. Certainly a number of people in the commentariat agree to that point. At the same time, if one simply redacted certain words or lines, the commenter isn’t completely devoid of point. Commenters “North” and “Jaybird” have good points to make that the comments of “J Stewart” include certain neologisms that seem to act as indicators for identity politics and put-downs of certain political groups. At the same time, J Stewart rightfully points out the tendency of right-wing media and radio outlets to use certain invective against the left, such as accusations that left-wing politicans are disconnected with the common people (”ivory tower”, “funny words”) as well as calling out the same outlets for their not-so-thinly veiled racial epithets and racial fearmongering campaigns of the past few years.
In the larger picture… if a comment is removed for reasons of content/inappropriateness, there should be a space with “comment removed for violation of policy.” If part of a comment is redacted, as we have occasionally had to do here, there’d better be a damn clear note that part of the comment was redacted and why.
Sure, Rufus over at LOOG has apologized for his behavior. Overnight, he appeared to try to restore (at least partially) the offending comments, though I can’t say (not having seen the originals) how exact his re-add is and his own comment indicates it may not be exact; I know that here, if I redact something, I generally tuck the snipped section into a text document in easy reach in case I need to re-reference it, since the edit necessarily destroys the original in the database.
But a line has been crossed at LOOG. A moderator has edited someone else’s comments and left it entirely unclear that the comment was edited. Powers have been used in a way that, had he subsequently banned the writer, would have counted as unadulterated “black ops” and not even been discovered (it was only discovered because the commenter, angry at being edited, lashed out publicly). And that’s not good because it taints the integrity of the entire site.
Earlier this year, the State of Washington signed off on cigar rooms:
The bill establishes a special license endorsement for up to 100 cigar rooms, which would each pay $17,500 for a state endorsement.
Up to 500 tobacco shops would have the option to pay $6,000 each to allow indoor cigar and pipe smoking.
Any place where cigar smoking is allowed would be physically separated from places where smoking is banned by law. Cigarettes would not be allowed. Applicants also would need a valid liquor license.
This is a win-win. A little extra revenue for the state and a place that cigar smokers can go where they are unlikely to disturb others. What I find interesting - and telling - about this bill, however, is that cigarettes are not allowed. Because really, who wants to stink up cigar rooms with cigarette smoke. That is, of course, ridiculous. This isn’t about clean air or consumer preferences. Rather, it’s about this: Cigars are classy, but cigarettes are for poor people.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the anti-smoking campaign has been the placing of the class marker on it. Cigarettes used to be something cool people did. Moreso than any law, in my opinion, it’s the changing of that which has lead to the reduction of smokers. People don’t want to be associated with cigarette smokers anymore. At some point, it turned personal*.
There was actually a golden age, of sorts, when smokers were pushed out of the office and to a designated smoking area outside. At one of my previous jobs, there was a deck by the smoking dock where we used to go. Everyone from dockworkers to vice presidents (okay, one vice president) would all go out there. We’d talk sports, talk work, and so on. The dock was one of the few places of camaraderie between a vice president and his underlings. We had Hispanic dockworkers, a black driver, a redneck, multiple software developers (some who smoked, some who didn’t but wanted to chat with those of us who did), and me (software testing). All chatting and sucking on poison together.
It was during my time there that things really started to change. The smoking ban expanded from restaurants to bars. And the cycle had really begun to take hold. Smoking became something proles do. And so one by one, the vice president, the developers, and everybody but the dockworkers and driver quit. Our access to the higher-ups became limited to official, and ineffective, channels. Then they banned smoking on the dock and we had to go somewhere else. And without a really designated area, everyone sort of went their own way. One of the great social equalizers in a very hierarchical organization was destroyed.
Which is not to say that it wasn’t for the best, of course, as now a vice president and developers now have healthier lungs. And non-smokers have access to the docks, even if no real reason to actually go there. And the war on smoking has had its successes, with drops in the number of people doing it. But make no mistake, as this transition has occurred and accelerated, it has been increasingly fueled by the demographics of those who smoke and those who do not.
* - Yes, I’m perfectly aware of how things used to be before the smoking bad. Nothing here should be construed as a desire to return to those days. If or when EDK and the others deem fit to give me front-page access, I have a broadeer post on the subject.
Megan McArdle has a post about wage stickiness. I’m pondering a post on the subject myself, but it’ll probably end up in the backlog file. So with something better than nothing (and maybe a more complete post to come later, some thoughts.
When I was working at Mindstorm, all employees were required to take 10% pay cuts. I much, much preferred this over the alternative. I wish it is something that our culture could do more of rather than layoffs. It is a mixed bag, though. If you lay off 8%, then of course 90% are fine. I mean, they may have to work more hours to cover for the lost people, but they will still be able to meet their bills. On the other hand, if you give everybody a 10% pay cut (I’m making there be a difference because it’s cheaper to have fewer employees that you pay more than more employees that you pay less), and if half of those people are living hand-to-mouth, then you now have 50% of people that are missing payments and such because they were counting on $x rather than $.9x in income. A part of me says that it’s their own fault for living hand to mouth (unless we’re talking about near-poverty wages, in which case the wage cut isn’t exactly the problem), but people will live how they live.
Given the increased labor flexibility (it’s easier to find work near minimum wage than if you’re in the professional class), maybe layoffs are better for the poor and wage-cutting is better for those above a certain threshold?
McArdle also talks about wage stickiness among the unemployed. apparently at least part of the reason for it is on the employers’ side: there is a degree of signalling in the wages you ask for. She closes with the following:
Come up with a good story about why you’re willing to accept lower wages. When I was interviewing for my first job at The Economist, they asked me flat out why an MBA would be willing to take a job that paid $40,000. Part of the answer was, of course, that I needed a job. But that’s not what I said. What I said was also true: “I’m only going to be on the planet for a few short years. I want to do something that’s a lot more important to me than making money.”
My personal experience doesn’t really bear out the notion that it’s on the employer’s side. I got my first 9-5 job essentially by offering to work for substantially less than the job advertised for. The interview was not going well and it was a sort of hail mary. But it worked. And a number of jobs I have gotten since I have been overqualified for. Which is not exactly the same thing, but you’re confronting the same obstacle: I am worth x, but am asking for less than x. Only once have I been turned down for a job that I was overqualified for, as near as I can recall. It’s a little different, though, when you’re taking industry wages for a lesser job. There’s always the dangle of advancement. Getting raises for doing the same job seems to almost never happen anymore. Even before the recession.
If I have any daughters, there are a lot of things where I just don’t know how it’s going to work out. Partially because I was raised in a male family (even my mother had a tomboy streak).
There’s also, of course, the nail polish issue. Longtime Hit Coffee readers will recall that I have an unusual aversion to nail polish. So of course I would never want any daughter of mine wearing it. Ever.
But as my wife continually points out, in the greater scheme of things, that’s a pretty poor battle to pick. All too true. But still. Gah!
Well, I think I’ve come up with a solution. The same one that Clancy came up with and boys with long hair. You’re free to do it, so long as you take care of it. So with boys and long hair, they can have it but they have to keep it well-groomed. Otherwise, they have to get it cut off.
Well, the same would be true of nail polish. I’m not going to object, unless they do a half-arsed job with it. I don’t like nail polish in any context, but I particularly hate it when it’s half peeled off and not maintained. So if I could avoid that, I would be coming out ahead. AND, perhaps more importantly, it would make having (and maintaining) nail polish a pain in the ass. A disincentive.
So I think that will be my solution.
Now, if they want a nose ring, that’s the part where I suspect Clancy objects and I take the opposite tact.
“We need to choose our battles, sweety, at least it’s not nail polish.”
I have a problem with the belt holsters I put my cell phone in. Namely, if they’re the “right size”, they’re actually too small. By which I mean that they fit too snugly. This is a problem because I take the phone in and out of the holster and all sorts of unintented screen-presses happen. The best ones are a little too large for my phone. I found one the right size on eBay a while back. I wanted a spare, but when I went back to get a backup, it was gone. So I ordered a few different kinds, but none were right. Finally, I saw something very similar to the first on eBay. And I ordered it. And it wasn’t the same one as in the picture. The ad warned me that it might not be, but I had hoped.
Since the seller seemed to sell all kinds of cell phone belt holsters, I wrote the seller this question about the:
“Hello, I ordered this product a while back, but it was too small for my HTC Touch Pro 2. I would like something just a little bit larger. Do you have something for a phone that’s a little bit larger? In fact, the one in the picture is exactly like one I have that fits my phone. What model is that for?”
To which they responded:
“Hello. Yes. This product will fit your HTC Touch Pro 2 perfectly.”
Me: “I know it should, but I find it too tight a fit. I am looking for one the next size up. Do you have any that hold a phone that’s maybe just a little bit larger?”
Them: “This is the one that you need for your HTC Touch Pro 2. It is made for the Touch Pro 2.”
Me: “Which model is the one in the picture for.”
Them: “I don’t know. What kind of phone do you have?”
Me: “I have a Touch Pro 2, but I am looking for one that’s slightly larger. I think the one in the picture is what I want.”
With regard to the above picture. The car in the back is a Pontiac Aztek, oft-named the ugliest vehicles on the road. I, of course, think that they look pretty cool. They have the practicality of a Chrysler, though, despite being made by GM.
Farhad Manjoo writes about Google’s takeover of Motorola and what it might mean. Is Google going the way of Apple? Or are they trying to create a flagship Android phone as a sort of challenge to the others? Or, as many suspect, patents? Manjoo is pessimistic, believing that Google is about to tighten its ship into something less open. I am hoping that they’re going the flagship route. But I’ll take patents.
Microsoft envisions a universal operating system, but it might not be Windows. I’m worried about things going in the other direction, where we have separate OSes for every conceivable device. The only savior in this could be Apple, though that might be burning the village in order to save it.
A cool look at Match.com. I never used Match, though three of the four I did use are gone and Match.com is still around, so they must have did something right.
An interesting story about Mitt Romney’s Mexican roots. Republicans are generally considered to be less worldly in Democrats, and generally they are. But Mormons, one of the most Republican groups in existence, stand in stark contrast.
No surprise: 96 of the top 100 markets lost manufacturing jobs since 2006. Surprise: two of the other four are in California.
The government has blocked a $1,000,000 Italian supercar from entering the US market due to the lack of “child-safe airbags.” I love by country, but sometimes I don’t love my country.
The New York Times reports on the dangers of digitalization: disappearing data. Not just in the sense that it’s been deleted, but in the sense that what we have 100 years from now won’t be able to read what we produce today. This is what ODF was supposed to prevent. But really, as long as open-source projects can roughly read proprietary documents, have much of a danger is there on that front? Given how infinitely copyable everything is, I suspect data is ultimately safer now than ever. So media pirates aren’t actually pirates. They’re curators.
Alex Knapp says this study on spoilers (warning, if you haven’t read Harry Potter, there’s a spoiler) is flawed, but I think it touches on something pretty significant. We need to think of things beyond beginning-middle-end. The ending is only part of the story.
I’ve got a number of friends on Facebook today who have jumped on the question of “why is [insert media outlet name here] ignoring Ron Paul in their Iowa Straw Poll coverage when he took second?” It seems that there are a number of people who, if not being Ron Paul supporters, are at least giving Ron Paul a look (and seeing the tone of his media coverage as something sinister) after his performance in the latest debate.
Looking at his positions over at On The Issues, there are some things I can appreciably get behind. Of course, there are also things that it’s hard to get behind as well, at least for a number of people. Still, I suspect that for a number of the positions he takes, Ron Paul at least carries the same positions as some of the other groups - Tea Partiers, Republicans, Democrats and his actual home party, Libertarians.
Why, then, would media outlets not want to bother covering him? Well, for one, a Straw Poll is completely nonscientific. It’s not a ballot-box primary. It’s not even a caucus. It’s a matter of figuring out how to bus your supporters in, drive them in, or convince them to show up and either pay their $30 ticket or convince them to pay for it themselves. According to the indicated figures, there were ~4000 people who took tickets provided by the Bachmann camp and voted for somebody else. I’m willing to bet a good number of them went over to the Ron Paul camp.
The sum total of this is that I don’t really think the media are giving Ron Paul a disservice or failing in their duty by not giving him wall-to-wall coverage. Ron Paul’s been in the position of “winning straw polls, never gaining real traction” before. His supporters are highly motivated, more than enough to spam and tip straw polls and unscientific online polling. At the same time, they aren’t very numerous, and we eventually have to look at what they are selling - Ron Paul.
Here’s where it all falls apart. Ron Paul, while sincere, is sincere in the same manner that makes people look at the Lyndon LaRouche crowd, or the Al Sharpton crowd, or the Tea Party, or any other fringe movement and say “wow, there goes a nutcase.” He’s almost an octegenarian, but he can go into incredibly manic periods during interviews. He may make some good points, but he has a habit of making them in the worst possible way - that “blowback principle” audioclip, where his voice went squeaky/creepy, was on talk radio stations for months afterwards.
At the end of the day, they’re selling “Crazy Uncle Ron in the Tinfoil Hat.” And few people are buying, media coverage or not.
There are two main dangers when it comes to our trips to Shell Beach: jellyfish and sunburn. Dad and I don’t need excuses not to go out into the hot gulf coast heat, but what excuse we don’t need, these things provide. Unfortunately, the two things tend to alternate. The jellyfish are most prevalent when the sun isn’t out.
I had actually planned to use this trip in order to even out my suntan. Right now, when I’m not wearing a shirt, it looks like I am wearing a white shirt. So I decided to go out sans sun screen lotion for limited periods of time each day rather than wait for the sun to fall below the condos. The end result is that when I got home, it looked like I was wearing a white shirt with red shoulderpads. I went out at noon, so my shoulders bore the brunt of it.
The last day was by far the most pleasant. The clouds were out and there was a breeze. So I went out earlier than usual and swam. Clancy joined me before too long. She noticed the seaweed first. Seaweed is where jellyfish like to hide (and they often come as a combo). Clancy started getting worried. I saw one, but shrugged it off. Then another. At that point, the goal was to simply move away from the seaweed. The fourth I found was resting on my wrist. We decided it was time to call it a day. We got out the meat tenderizer and hung out on shore for a while.
We go on this trip with the Charles family. The Charles’ have a load of grandkids, who find jellyfish some combination of fascinating and horrifying. They didn’t want to go out swimming, but did want to go out with their nets and capture the j-fish. They didn’t know what to do with them. Their parents suggested that they bury them on the beach.
Great idea, that way we don’t even have to go in the water in order to get stung. We decided to go in.
In other news, a stingray did a belly flop less than ten feet from me. That was kind of cool, until I remembered what they were called and why.