Friday, November 21, 2014


“Blatherskite”  Megan McArdle on Obama's speech last nightBlatherskite defined.  Wonderful...

It's a beautiful morning in Paradise...

It's a beautiful morning in Paradise...  Right now (8:30 am) it's 28°F outside.  The forecast is calling for partly cloudy, no precipitation, and a high of 43°F today.  Tomorrow it says snow.  Lots of snow.  That could put a crimp in my trenching and pipe-laying...

In the photo (looking north from my house) you can see the trenches that are now making my back yard look like a WWI battleground.  Our back lawn is going to need some repair next spring...

The secret life of passwords...

The secret life of passwords...  This is a completely non-technical piece about how people choose passwords.  I found it absolutely fascinating, particularly the story of how Cantor Fitzgerald, with an assist from Microsoft, leveraged this knowledge to recover passwords lost when so many of their employees were killed on 9/11...

Obama's “amnesty”...

Obama's “amnesty”...  Several readers (including my brother Scott!) have already written me to see what I think about this.  I was rather busy yesterday (see earlier posts) and haven't had much time to digest this.  Nevertheless, here's a first take.

What did Obama actually announce? 
  • More border security, details to be determined.
  • Easier immigration for high-skilled immigrants, details to be determined.
  • A promise not to deport (for three years) illegal immigrants who meet these requirements: have been here for five years, are not criminals, pay taxes, and pay a fee.
So far as I can discern, that's what he actually said he would do.

The reaction of most of the talking heads has been predictably filled with breathless partisan doom-and-gloom rhetoric, making it challenging to actually find any facts in the mess.  The only semi-sober analysis I saw was this one from Reason.

The way that Obama did this is of a piece with the growth of unilateral presidential power ever since 9/11.  I think this may be the single biggest success of the terrorists on that day.  It strikes at the very heart of what makes this country America, and I fear greatly its long term consequences.  Obama's assertion of presidential power here, if not rebuked in some effective way, is one more step along the path blazed by George W. Bush.  So far, it's been a one-way path, with continuous movement of the boundary outward from the presidency at the expense of Congress.  This is the most worrisome thing I see about Obama's action, at least so far.

Politically this is a long-expected move by the Democrats, even if the form isn't quite was most people thought it would be.  This is a step toward (but not there yet!) a flood of new Democratic voters and the Democratic goal of a permanent majority.  At least, that's what Democratic strategists seem to believe.  I'm not so sure they'd actually get the results they wanted, though, even if they succeeded on the face of it.

What Obama just did seems rather mild compared to the rhetoric on the right, though.  They seem to see this as an irreversible step down a slippery slope to doom.  I see this more as a stupidly implemented, easily reversible step that should be a part of a much broader reform of our immigration policies.  I'm all for an actual amnesty (which this is not), one that applied to anyone who wasn't a felon, was actually working towards assimilation with American culture, and wasn't agitating for the overthrow of the U.S. government.  I'd also like to see our current immigration restrictions completely removed, as they were before the 1860s, back when that motto on the Statue of Liberty actually meant something:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Emma Lazarus wrote that, and for about the first half of this country's history it was the literal truth.  Today's immigration controls have turned that motto from truth into a cruel, viscous joke – but nobody's laughing except the lawyers who take hopeful immigrant's hard-earned money knowing that there's little chance of success for them.

However, even someone as pro-open-immigration as I will not support actions like Obama's taken in isolation.  Those actions only make sense to me if they are part of a much broader set of reforms that include not only open immigration, but active deportation of felons and agitators, requirements for assimilation (including English and meaningful citizenship achievement), and more.  I don't see anything but bad consequences to piecemeal implementation over the course of years; this is something that really needs to be dropped into place quickly.  I've never thought this was politically feasible (and it certainly isn't now), so my default position is to oppose any significant change until real reform does become politically feasible.

There is one good thing I can think of that will come from Obama's amnesty: Congressional gridlock.  I think Obama just dropped a nuclear weapon on any possibility of cooperative Republicans.  It will be outright political war for the rest of his term in office.  Nothing will get done.  Yay!

“We will need writers who can remember freedom.”

“We will need writers who can remember freedom.”  That's a line from Ursula K. Le Guin's short speech upon acceptance of her Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the National Book Awards a few nights ago.  The speech was pretty good, and it's worth a couple minutes of your time to read it and ponder.  Ms. Le Guin's work had a big impact on me in my youth, when I greedily devoured everything she wrote.  Earlier this year I've started reading some of her more recent works, and re-reading some of my favorites from the past.

I have just one quibble with that line from her speech.  We will need citizens who can remember freedom, not just writers.  But the writers might help those citizens remember...

Progress report: good, with a twist.

Progress report: good, with a twist.  With the able assistance of Tim D., my friend and neighbor, we made lots of trenching progress yesterday.  We were going so fast that we thought we'd actually finish yesterday.  Right about the time we had that thought, the twist: we struck a water pipe, about 2' in front of Tim in the photo at right, and quite close to our house.

Now the weird thing about this is that we were, at that point, being extremely careful about where we were digging.  The main water line into the house is directly behind Tim, about 4' below ground level.  The obvious course for it to take is straight out from the house, then left toward our pump house.  Just to the right of that, on the house wall, you can see where our electrical service enters the house.  For it, too, the logical route for it to take would be straight out from the house, then left toward the pump house, where our meter is.  Furthermore, when Trent J. hand dug here, he found that the power kept on going down after 4'.

So we dug with the backhoe to the right of all that, right next to the concrete wall for the entrance to our basement, just to the right (in the photo) of Tim's left foot.  In the area where we were most concerned, this all worked very well.

Then, most unexpectedly, as I started to lift out a chunk of dirt low in the trench, water started bubbling out.  Fast.  Very fast.  I got the backhoe's bucket out, gently, then ran to the pump house (about 200') and shut off our pump.  When I got back, Tim was out of the trench.  Fortunately, he was wearing overshoes, so his feet didn't get wet.  The trench had a couple feet of water in it.  And the house had no water.  It was 2 pm.

I already had a sump pump, purchased a few weeks ago for my last adventure in repairing our home's water supply.  We rigged that, and a few minutes later we had just a puddle left.  Tim insisted on jumping back into the trench and digging with a shovel in the muck (and I couldn't help feeling very guilty about that) while I operated the backhoe to remove what he'd dug out.  We soon discovered that at the bottom of the trench was a capped end of a galvanized steel pipe, and the water was coming in from the side of the trench.  Evidently the backhoe had moved that pipe, and broken it somewhere further into the dirt.  We had no idea how far into the dirt the break was.  I was dismayed to find the pipe was steel, as nothing is harder to repair. 

So the two of us, shovel and backhoe, dug out a big hole to the side of our actual trench.  That went surprisingly quickly, though if I had been working on this alone it certainly wouldn't have.  The combination of Tim on the shovel and me on the backhoe worked well for this work, just as it does on the usual trenching. 

Just a few inches from where we first spotted the leak was a valve – and it was turned off.  The valve, in turn, was broken off from the pipe beyond it.  We'd found the leak.  Tim dug a bit around it, removed the broken off valve and capped pipe, and we soon discovered the remaining pipe end was a 1" copper pipe.  Celebrate!  Celebrate!  Dance to the broken pipe!  Why?  Because copper pipe is a breeze to fix – all I'd need to do is to solder on a cap.  Woo hoo!

Tim, knowing I'd object, ordered me (I'm still laughing about this!) to run down to Ridley's (our local sort of large general store, four miles away in Hyrum) to buy the parts I'd need to fix it.  I also had to buy a propane torch, as mine is down in Jamul at the moment.  Ridley's had everything I needed, and just before 4 pm I had it fixed.  I cut a clean end (with a tubing cutter), cleaned it (wire brush and emery cloth), slathered it with flux paste, put the cap on, heated it up nicely, then soldered it.  The repair held without a drip on the first try.  It had been less than two hours from first break to repaired pipe.

It would have taken much longer without Tim's help, and almost certainly I'd have spent a night without water.  I'm beginning to wonder whether he's quite alright in the head, though – because even after today's experience, he's planning to come back and help me again today...

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Kito...  Your morning cute.  You're welcome.  There's a “Making of” video, too.  Via my lovely bride...

Dog agility (?) contest fail, but dog win...

Dog agility (?) contest fail, but dog win...  The video at right is labeled as being a Finnish dog agility contest, but if so, it's different than any other agility contest I've seen.  This is more like an obedience trial, wherein the dog is asked to ignore all sorts of treats and distractions to do what his handler asks.

Anyhow, in the video the golden retriever's handler is quite disappointed – but the dog is thinking “Best game evah!

Hearing the Finnish language, and seeing the Finnish faces, brought back all sorts of good memories.  Finland is across the Baltic Sea from Estonia; the languages are closely related, as are the people...

Transistor radios...

Transistor radios...  The photo at right is from this article about the Regency TR-1, the original transistor radio.  It was introduced for Christmas 60 years.

I never had that particular model of transistor radio, but I did have two transistor radios when I was a kid.  The first one looked very much like the TR-1, except that its case was beige.  I can still remember the raised letters on its front proudly declaring that it was a “7 Transistor Radio!”.
Of course I took that radio apart to see what was inside, and it was very much like the image at left.  That radio was AM only, its audio was horribly bad, the battery didn't last very long, and I thought it was a technological marvel.  The only other “portable” radios available back then were based on vacuum tubes.  Those things were the size of a toolbox, and weighed 10 pounds or more.  They used gigantic batteries (“B batteries”) that also didn't last long, and cost a small fortune.  By comparison, the transistor radio was a technological marvel, though today we would think it was a piece of junk.

Later, when I was 15 or so, I bought myself a General Electric AM/FM transistor radio, quite possibly the model at right.  It was a major upgrade: a 16 transistor radio (modern radios have hundreds of thousands of transistors).  I took that thing nearly everywhere I went for several years, most especially to several jobs that I had.  Its audio quality was a bit better than the first radio I had, and the batteries lasted much longer – a couple weeks at a time.

These days I rarely listen to the radio unless I'm driving – and even then, I'm more likely to listen to the music stored on my phone.  Back in the '60s, though, the radio stations were my primary access to music.  I couldn't afford to buy many records, and there was no Internet to download music from.  There were no iPods (or even Walkmen).  If you wanted to listen to a diverse set of music, the radio was just about the only option open to most people.  So we listened.

As I'm writing this, I'm listening to Bob Dylan – from my computer, not my radio.  “Baby Blue” is on a playlist, and I can play it whenever I feel like it, not when the DJ gets the urge.  Even for someone like me, who lived through the '60s, it's hard to imagine listening to music the way we did then...

American composer is a hit in Estonia...

American composer is a hit in Estonia...  My mom knows that I love all things Estonian, so when she read this article about Susan Nelson, she sent it along to me.  Susan is a composer of music for hand-rung bells and guitar, like the piece Avalon in the video at right.  She's a resident of Hamilton, New Jersey, near the farm I grew up on.

Estonia comes into this story in an interesting way.  For it to make sense, you have to understand that music has a very special place in Estonian culture.  For its size (Estonia has just 1.5 million people), Estonia has an amazingly diverse and intense music scene, including several symphony orchestras, dozens of music schools, and more music venues than you can shake a stick at.  The 1991 peaceful revolution that earned Estonia its independence is called “The Singing Revolution” because of the central role that music and song played in unifying the Estonian people.  Estonians are as serious about their music as they are about their beer (with more breweries per capita than any other country on earth).

Estonian musicians noticed Susan's work, and started playing it.  Her pieces became quite popular there.  As that article relates, Susan didn't even know about this until an Estonian conductor wrote her on Facebook a few years ago.  Last year, the Estonians honored her with a concert of her own work (on YouTube) – an “Author’s Concert”.

What a great story!  And now at least two Americans from Hamilton Township, New Jersey have been to Estonia :)

“He spilled the beans on our entire deception.”

“He spilled the beans on our entire deception.”  Hitler finds out that Gruber revealed the ObamaCare deception.  I love the little hook at the end – you know there's another one of these coming :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Catch a kitty!

Catch a kitty!  We must do this!

Oh, this is very hopeful!

Oh, this is very hopeful!  Scientists have discovered a potential mechanism for an entirely new class of antibiotics...

Toyota servicing...

Toyota servicing...  Yesterday I got my 2007 Tundra serviced for the first time in Utah.  In Jamul we've gone out of our way to avoid using the service from the dealer.  The prices at the dealer were outrageously high, and they were constantly trying to “upsell” us on things that weren't actually needed, but which of course generated lots of profit for them: filters, belts, etc.  For years we've been taking our vehicles to Dave at Jamul Auto Care, where we not only got reasonable prices, but also first-class work and honest evaluations and recommendations.  We love Dave!

So I had some trepidations about getting service up here in Utah.  There is no Dave here, so far as I've been able to determine.  There are independent mechanics – lots of them – but mainly for American vehicles and tractors.  The closest guy I could find who could handle my Tundra was 50 miles away.

I decided to try the local Toyota dealer, Young's in Logan.  I made an appointment on their web site, and pulled in at the appointed time.  I'm up here by myself, so I had to wait for my truck to be done.  I had a routine service plus one minor recall item (the window switch in the driver's door).  Two hours after I pulled in, they let me know my truck was done.  They'd done the usual oil change, lube, tire rotation, and consumables check.  They'd also done the recall item.  I steeled myself for shock at the bill – in San Diego, it would have been between $250 and $400, depending on exactly what consumables they replaced (and there were always consumables to replace).  The fellow handed over the bill apologetically, cringing in preparation for my rant.  Not a good sign.  I looked at the bill, and the only number I could find was $51.25.  “Is that the price?” I asked.  “Yes” said the cringing clerk, hesitantly.  In subsequent conversation, I found out that they get a lot of push back from their customers at the high cost of routine service.  There's no way I could get just an oil change for that price in San Diego!  On drilling down a bit, I discovered that they had replace exactly zero consumables – telling me that they were all in fine shape as they were.  The possibility of that happening at the San Diego dealership is exactly zero.  Then to top it off, they had washed my truck!  It hasn't been this clean since the day I bought it.

I love Utah!

Progress report...

Progress report...  Well, it's more like a frustration report for the past couple of days.  Monday and Tuesday the siding crew was missing in action.  My builder tracked them down – in Idaho.  They decided to go work on another job instead of my barn.  Dang it!  That same crew was supposed to have installed some new flooring on my house's balcony by now – and the roofer working on my house's roof was depending on that being done.  Unless that balcony floor is installed today, the roofer is going to be held up.  Double dang it!  Job one for me today is to take a big, heavy pipe and beat on the siding guys until they get that balcony floor on.  This has the potential for holding me up from heading down to Jamul to pack up my wife, our animals, and our meager possessions to actually, like, move up here.  Not happy.

Then on Monday afternoon, as I was digging a trench for getting the water, gas, and network to the barn, one of the roofers came over and asked me if I realized that my tractor was spewing oil all over.  No, as a matter of fact, I didn't know.  After a little investigation it became clear that my tractor had sprung quite a leak of hydraulic fluid.  At $25 a gallon, that's like liquid gold squirting onto the yard.  I made a call for urgent repair to Agri-Service, the folks I bought the tractor from, and who handled the warranty repairs.  They promised to be out the next day (Tuesday).  They also asked me to investigate it a bit myself, to see if it was something simple like a loose fitting.  That's completely reasonable.

So yesterday (Tuesday) morning, I dismounted the backhoe from the tractor.  That operation requires hydraulic power, and that hydraulic fluid was spewing as I got the backhoe off.  I had just barely enough hydraulic fluid left to move the tractor away from the backhoe and park it.  At that point the reservoir was empty.  The leak had gone through $100 worth of hydraulic fluid.  Yikes!  Once the backhoe was off, I could see exactly where the leak was: in a hose on the tractor that connects hydraulic fluid to the backhoe.  It turns out that the hose had been pinched somehow (we haven't figured exactly how yet), and there was a small tear in it.  It doesn't take much to make a prodigious leak in a high-pressure hydraulic line.

I drove up to Agri-Service (about a 40 minute drive, as they're in Hyde Park) to buy some more hydraulic fluid – I knew I'd need it to refill the tractor once the bad hose had been fixed.  I walked up to the parts counter to order it, and the sales guy (Lawrence W.) who sold me the tractor walked out of his office to greet me.  When he found out that I was there to buy the hydraulic fluid, he told the parts guy that Agri-Service was covering that cost.  I didn't expect that – but given the cost of that stuff, it was certainly a welcome gesture.  Then he said he'd be down shortly to look at my tractor.  As I was driving home, a second guy (Kelly S., a mechanic) from Agri-Service called me and said he'd also be down shortly.  In no time at all, two Agri-Service guys were poring over my tractor.  They got the bad hose removed, and we made arrangements to get the hose replaced that night, and Kelly would come over in the morning to reattach it.  I followed Lawrence back toward Hyde Park so we could get a new hose made, and the idea was that I'd return home with it.

Well, we never got to Hyde Park – because Lawrence had a better idea on the way up.  He called me and we met at one of his competitors – a place called Ellis Implements – on the south side of Logan, much closer to my house.  He had them make up the replacement hose, which he paid for, to save me the extra driving up to Hyde Park and back.  Ten minutes after arriving there, I had a new hose.  Now this morning Kelly should show up with his special “crow’s foot” wrench (like the one at right, but with a longer shaft).

I'm starting to get used to the idea of service like this.  It's built into the culture here.  I love Utah!

As opposed to all the other frustrations, the roofers made good progress yesterday.  They've finished the northern half of the roof, and have started on the southern half.  They're very happy about that, as now they have much more sunlight to warm them up...

Crafty mom...

Crafty mom...  A few weeks ago I shipped my mom a couple small boxes of teasel seed pods.  She's been turning these into little decorations: Santas and a variety of animals, as at right.

Locals here hate teasel – it's a pernicious weed that's hard to get rid of.  They organize “burn the teasel” weekends to get rid of it.  When they saw me “harvesting” the seed pods, then discovered that I was shipping some seed pods back to my mom in Virginia, they wondered what I had against Virginia – though one fellow immediately saw the benefit of teasel-bombing D.C. :)  My mom is going to send us a couple of these decorations, so I'll be able to show the locals that teasel actually is good for something.  I'm betting that they won't find the argument persuasive, though!

The finder...

The finder...  KLM Airlines (Holland) has turned the problem of lost items upside down.  When the airplane crew or cleaners find personal items left behind, a specially trained dog tracks down the owner in the terminal.  Being a dog, of course he does this by the scent.  Totally awesome!  I might leave something behind on purpose just to have the experience :)  Via my lovely bride, whom I hope to see in not too many days!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Border trouble up north...

Border trouble up north...  Reader Simi L. sends this piece along.  I'm pretty sure it's tongue-in-cheek, as the Manitoba Herald was last published in 1877 :)
The Manitoba Herald:

The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The recent actions of the Tea Party and the fact Republicans won the Senate are prompting an exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray, and to agree with Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck.

Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.
"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Southern Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota . "The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left before I even got a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. He then installed loudspeakers that blared Rush Limbaugh across the fields. "Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through and Rush annoyed the cows so much that they wouldn't give any milk."

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, and drive them across the border where they are simply left to fend for themselves. "A lot of these people are not prepared for our rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a single bottle of imported drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley Cabernet, though." When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about plans being made to build re-education camps where liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR races.

In recent days, liberals have turned to ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have been disguised as senior citizens taking a bus trip to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half- dozen young vegans in powdered wig disguises, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizens about Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney to prove that they were alive in the '50s. "If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we become very suspicious about their age," an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and are renting all the Michael Moore movies. "I really feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"

In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Biden met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals. A source close to President Obama said, "We're going to have some Paul McCartney and Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. We might even put some endangered species on postage stamps. The President is determined to reach out."
Sounds plausible, doesn't it?

Geological map of the asteroid Vesta...

Geological map of the asteroid Vesta...  From data collected by the Dawn robotic explorer...

IC 410: the Tadpole Nebula...

IC 410: the Tadpole Nebula...  Via APOD, of course.  This is a false-color image from infrared imaging collected by WISEFull resolution version...

Dogs: data vs. popularity...

Dogs: data vs. popularity...  Dog owners are irrationally attached to their favorite breeds, and we're no exception: we love our Field Spaniels, a breed that very few people in the U.S. have ever even heard of, much less seen.  The chart at right (more detail here) attempts to visualize the popularity of dog breeds versus an objective assessment of the reasons why a breed might be popular.  We could debate the parameters they chose until the cows come home, but give the authors this: it's a reasonable stab at it.  Furthermore, the chart passes the sniff test – some of the breeds in the upper left (the “Inexplicably overrated”) clearly belong there, and some of the breeds in the lower right (the “Overlooked treasures”) just as clearly belong there.  Our beloved Field Spaniels are too small a breed to even show up on this chart, but if they did, they'd probably be down in the lower right, alongside the Welsh Springer Spaniels (a close relative).

Wanna start an entertaining fight?  Follow these steps:
  1. Gather a number of dog lovers in a room
  2. Shut the doors
  3. Toss a copy of this chart into the room
  4. Run


Farcical...  Bret Stephens in today's Wall Street Journal:
As headlines go, “ Obama Moves Close to Calling Russian Action in Ukraine an Invasion,” from a weekend story in the New York Times , must surely rank among the year’s most revealing. The Obama presidency has long been at odds with the obvious. Once this was called hope.

Now it is generally recognized as farce.
A farce – that's a reasonably accurate portrayal of the entire Obama presidency.  What a damned shame that the first black American president also had to be so ragingly incompetent...

Your feel-good story of the day...

Your feel-good story of the day...  We recently fixed up our old, beat-up RV and gave it to our house cleaner in San Diego – one of the most satisfying things we ever did...

I am no longer concerned about mainland China...

I am no longer concerned about mainland China...  Any culture that could produce the video at right – and have it become wildly popular (over 5 million views at this writing) – is well down the path to doom...

Consequences of ObamaCare, part 945,823...

Consequences of ObamaCare, part 945,823...  Via CoyoteBlog, who describes one consequence to the business he founded and runs:
So, as a result, I am required by law, under harsh financial penalties, to purchase a product that is not available to me.  Had President Obama required that I buy 2 pounds of rocks from Mars, the result would not have been any more unfair.
Repeal it, Republicans!

Remy on GruberGate...

Remy on GruberGate...

Our income tax system is unfair!

Our income tax system is unfair!  The graph at right is taken from this American Enterprise Institute article.  Each column shows the net taxes paid by each quintile (fifth) of income earners.  By net taxes, they mean income taxes less transfers (such as earned income credits, welfare, etc.) from the federal government.

The bottom line is very simple: virtually all net income taxes are paid by Americans in the upper income quintile.

On what planet is that fair?

It's even worse for residents of states with high income taxes (such as California, Massachusetts, New York, etc.) ... in some of those states, virtually all net taxes are paid by the upper decile (tenth)!

Monday, November 17, 2014

“…these doors might not be that secure!”

“…these doors might not be that secure!”  Oh, I would so love to drive on this road!

Reading the tea leaves...

Reading the tea leaves...  These are some Darjeeling tea leaves, hydrated after steeping them for my morning tea.  The photo is 15x magnification...

“The most likely outcome is that regulators will freeze in place today’s business models, thereby slowing innovation and change.”

“The most likely outcome is that regulators will freeze in place today’s business models, thereby slowing innovation and change.”  Nick Gillespie with an excellent piece in Time on Obama's call for “net neutrality” and regulation of the Internet.  A bit more:
There are specific interests who are doing well by the current system and they want to maintain the status quo via government regulations. That’s understandable but the idea that the government will do a good job of regulating the Internet (whether by blanket decrees or on a case-by-case basis) is unconvincing, to say the least. The most likely outcome is that regulators will freeze in place today’s business models, thereby slowing innovation and change.

That’s never a good idea, especially in an area where new ways of bundling and delivering content are constantly being tried.
For a moment I found myself thinking that maybe our legislators were smart enough to see that regulating the Internet was a bad idea.  Then I woke up...

A clever application of physics...

A clever application of physics...  When I first read this headline – “Magnets in helmets might make football safer” – I groaned, and expected to read some pseudo-science claiming more miraculous magnetic effects like those sold by so many Dr. Oz-like charlatans.  Instead I found something totally realistic: using the repelling force of “like poles” on powerful magnets to reduce the deceleration force when two football helmets smack into each other.  Properly done, using magnets for this can be the equivalent of adding a thick layer of foam to the outside of a helmet.  Very clever!

Breathtakingly audacious lawsuit...

Breathtakingly audacious lawsuit...  There are two neighbors in Texas.  One of them owned four pit bull dogs; the other owned a beagle.  The four pit bulls got into the beagle's yard through a hole in the fence that the pit bulls made.  The pit bulls killed the 10 year old beagle.

So, naturally, a lawsuit was filed – but not the one you're most likely expecting.  The beagle's owner decided not to pursue a civil suit, because the police had already taken the actions he thought were needed.  The pit bulls' owner is suing the beagle's owner, asking for $1 million in damages, citing injuries and anxiety resulting from her attempts to retrieve her pit bulls from the neighbor's yard.

Clearly, the human species still has some evolving to do.  The good news?  The venue is in Texas, where the citizens have been known to help evolution along on occasion...


“Bubble-Ball”  This looks like fun!