Men on a construction site acting out of accordance with cultural norms.

Category: Theater


James Fallows collects anecdotes about electronic medical records.

Robert Pearl talks about what it’s like being a doctor.

Because women prefer to be pat down by women, female TSA agents are disproportionately put on pat-down duty which aside from the unpleasantness is detrimental to their careers.

The US’s manufacturing surge is apparently a product of the fracking boom. So, gulp, what happens at the end of the fracking boom?

Experts think that renewables are the best solution to climage change, Charles Mann reports that renewables aren’t enough and that we need to look at cleaning coal.

According to Geoffrey Heptonstall, the rightward drift of Britain over the last few decades has transcended politics.

How Slovakia became one of Europe’s successes after the Czechoslovakian split.

How the Internet is driving outrage.

Chris Mooney write about the biology and psychology of partisanship. Shankar Vedantam discusses the social component to ideological formation.

Shipping containers can be used to make pretty awesome homes.

Category: Elsewhere

Apple booster Daniel Eran Dilger wrote a long screed about how Apple rules and Google drools. He makes some good points (it’s hard to argue with Apple’s business acumen, while Google’s is genuinely more puzzling), though relies heavily on “they all said” when, in fact, I heard nobody say that. I’m sure somebody, somewhere said that Symbian would knock Apple off its pedestal, but I was pretty late to acknowledge Symbian’s utter collapse, it seemed like pretty much everybody was saying differently, and even I wasn’t saying that Symbian was going to eat Apple’s lunch. I just thought they would survive, and I was more optimistic than most people seemed at the time.

It coincides to some extent with what has become one of the overwhelming themes of the smartphone wars. Actually, not the wars, but the wars between boosters. A huge sense of defensiveness. It hasn’t exactly been symmetrical. Early on it was much more the Android fans that were defensive and were, in retrospect, by far the more hyper participants in arguments about which ecosphere was superior. Apple fans were less defensive and mostly dismissive. Dilger rallies a degree of defensiveness in the other direction.

Ultimately, the truths seem quite clear. Apple isn’t the only game in town, or the biggest in terms of marketshare, but its business model is amazingly profitable and that’s what matters. Both to Apple, and to an extent to its fans as it gives them something to point to. To Android fans, marketshare does matter and Android’s dominance there is the most important thing. Not as a bragging point, though it’s used as that, but mostly as a solidified alternative to Apple’s extremely limited range of smartphones.

Looking back at my own animosity towards Apple, I suspect that a lot of it was rooted in the fear that there actually wouldn’t be an alternative. Especially once Microsoft made clear that it was going much closer to the iPhone route (in terms of a restricted, closed OS), I was worried that Apple’s model was so effective that the Windows Mobile model actually wouldn’t have a successor.

But Android persevered, and I’m mostly past worrying about that. Even if Android were to falter, or be displaced by Tizen or something else, it’s been demonstrated that there is a huge market for alternatives to the iPhone. That the “fractured market” isn’t prohibitive and isn’t exclusive to a sufficiently intuitive, functional device that suits my needs (a flexible power device), the needs of my wife (a device with a keyboard that’s easy to use), and the needs of my family (a sufficient, inexpensive device).

If Google quits, someone else will step up. I am free to have device preferences that Apple doesn’t want to deliver on. Which, ultimately, is the primary problem I ever had with them. It wasn’t that their devices weren’t good. It was simply that they weren’t what I wanted. If it is what you want, you should absolutely get one. That, more than anything, has lead to a live-and-let-live attitude. For the most part. For the past year, excluding when Apple was trying to take my phone off the market, I have tried to take this to heart:

Nobody cares what kind of smartphone you believe in. It’s not a religion. It’s not your local sports team even. Stop being a soldier. You are not a soldier. You are just wrong. Shut up. You there, with the blog, in the comments, in the pages of the newspaper or the magazine or on Twitter or Facebook. Whatever your opinion is, as soon as you employ it in partisan fashion, it’s deeply and profoundly wrong. Just by sharing it, you are wrong. And nobody cares. Except for the people who do. And they are wrong too. Myself included.

“But, but, but,” I hear you stammering like some sort of horrible person who has mistaken a code base for a system of moral beliefs, “the screen is too big and not big enough.” No. You’re wrong. It’s just right. It’s just right for whoever is holding it, unless it’s not, in which case they’ll decide that it is wrong on their own and get a different one. And then they’ll be right, while you’ll still be wrong.

And I don’t care if Apple is brilliant, or stupid. I don’t care that they have no desire to produce the sort of phone I want to use. I don’t care if their screens aren’t as big as I would prefer. I don’t care if they have no keyboard, no external card, no removable battery. I don’t care if they block the sort of apps I want to use. None of that matters. Nor should it matter to Applytes that my phone sometimes crashes. Nor should they care if Google’s experiment with Motorola failed. Nor should they care if OS updates are less frequent. Nor should they care if I have to deal with bloatware that they don’t. Unless you’re considering buying one, it really doesn’t matter.

They’ve got their phone. I’ve got mine. There is indeed plenty of room for both.

Category: Market

When I was a kid, we had an Atari 2600. By today’s standards, of course, the games were incredibly crude. Frogger and the like.

One of the more complex games was called Adventure. Adventure actually had a plot, of sorts. Your job was to get a chalice from a castle. To get the chalice, you had to get a key. There was also a sword and a couple of dragons that you had to avoid. And a maze. You can play the game here.

There were three levels, though the story was the same. To make things more complicated, one of the rooms in Level 1 was a half-visible maze with another castle tucked away. The dragons were faster. There was another maze inside a castle. But the biggest thing was that there was a bat. The bat would fly around and steal stuff, placing whatever it previously had at the spot where it took its next item. So unlike with Level 1, you never knew exactly where things were on Level 2.

I was reminded a bit of the bat in Adventure recently because my real life has begun to emulate the game in a similar respect. Which is to say, I don’t know where a lot of things are because there is a little bat coming and going and picking things up and putting them down somewhere else. The bat’s name is, of course Lain.

So as with the sword and the chalice and the key, things sort of enter and exit the periphery at random. The other day, Lain produced the tape measure, which had been missing forever. Then, the next day, it was missing again. Batbaby had swooped in and taken it to parts unknown. As with Adventure, there is a limited range of places it could have gone. But in the main area, there are more things she could have hidden it behind and such. So it may be a while before it resurfaces again.

Thankfully, there are no dragons involved.

Category: Theater

So we did get our taxes in this year, on schedule.

We’re slated to get a refund on the basis of the high withholdings in Arapaho that assumed more annual income than we actually had. Along the way we found out that our withholdings here are practically nil. Literally nil for one of the paychecks. Due to Clancy’s unique position, she gets paychecks from two sources, the state and the physician’s group. The state wasn’t withholding anything and the group was withholding less than 10%. We’re going to get that fixed, but it seems unlikely that we will be getting a refund next year and will owe money.

This is actually the first time we’ve had to pay state income taxes to two states. Our past relocations have either involved states without an income tax or no overlapping taxes.

It turns out that you can really get screwed by moving across state lines. If you work eleven months in South Dakota and then move to Idaho, Idaho will tax all of your earnings in South Dakota. If you move from Montana (which, unlike SD, has an income tax) to Idaho, same deal except that you do get some credit for the taxes you paid to Montana. The law in Queenland is actually more forgiving and is probably the fairest system there is. Basically, they determine the brackets based on total income but only tax you for what you made in Queenland.

We only managed to get a refund from Queenland because of a nice deduction for moving expenses. While the feds didn’t deduct anything (except FICA, of course), the state did. Though not enough. Another thing to get fixed.

It has been suggested that elections should take place right after tax filings. Usually suggested by conservatives because they think that will make people more tax-conscious. For me, though, it’s historically been a reminder that the tax rates aren’t actually as high as the withholdings. Probably the worst time of year to get me to vote Republican.

Category: Home


The house of the fire has been sitting in disrepair. You can click on it to get a better view of the damage.

Oddly, during the fire, my phone kept malfunctioning to prevent me from taking more pictures. Particularly of the crowd that was gathering around to watch. Clancy says my phone had a better sense of decency than I did. Which may be true.

The whole incident was actually kind of inconvenient, as I was supposed to take the dog to my aunt’s to dogsit while we were in Vegas. Clancy went to render aid if necessary so I had to sit around and watch the baby.

Category: Home

stopGoogle Glass may be a key innovation for doctors.

Physicians are concerned that under PPACA they’re going to get stiffed.

SEC employees are not only allowed to use their inside knowledge to sell stocks, they’re required to.

Washington may not be working, but James Fallows says that our cities are.

The world’s largest solar farm is causing headaches for pilots.

The United States has West Texas and West Dakota, Australia has Western Australia, where there is a mining boom.

As we allow pot sales, the Netherlands is reversing course.

Germany has the right to kick out unemployed Spaniards.

It’s interesting how hypocrisy sometimes seems to be the most unforgivable of sins. Clancy Martin wonders if this is how it should be.

According to Alex Berube, cities and suburbs are converging.

The Guardian looks at floating cities.

Category: Newsroom


Airlines are increasingly charging fees for simple seat placement:

He talked about another annoyance that travelers who buy basic coach fares encounter routinely when booking a flight these days: the unavailability of seat assignments at the basic fare. Instead, airline booking sites typically offer customers an upsell to seats that are available — for a fee.

“What I see when I book is a map showing no free seats available, or just a few middle seats way in the back, but lots of upgradable seats that you pay $39 or more for. These — they have plenty of available,” he said. “I think that’s the direction they’re all going in, trying to get everybody to book a flight and then pay extra for everything, which is kind of disappointing. I mean, you look at the price and then what you get is, well, you’ll also need to pay extra for this, for that.”

I am, in many ways, a defender of modern airline practices of upcharging for every little thing. I am okay with cramped seats and charging people more for humane amounts of leg space. I am cool with charging for checked bags. I am even okay with charging for carry-ons.

This one, however, rubs me differently. Given that the premium is often for any seat that isn’t an undesirable middle seat, it’s essentially charging a fee so that families can sit together. We have an eighteen-month old daughter, of course, who tends to be a ticketed passenger. But you don’t have to have a daughter who is a ticketed passenger to see a problem here.

It also raises questions of whether “premium” seats outnumber basic ones, which opens up questions about deceptive advertising. If a flight ticket is $450 and it only applies to a middle seat in the 27th row, then that’s not really a price. Not the price that should be listed. And if you have to click-click-click to find out what the actual price you’re paying is, that opens up transparency issues far more than charging for luggage does. Unlike deceptive advertising, price opacity (tranlucency?) is not something that is or should always be legally prohibited. But it’s something that consumers should push back on. Especially given that such upcharges are less predictable than a blanket “$25 per checked bag” fee when calculating the price.

I would feel better about it if they had a sort of deal where two people could get seats together, including the middle seat, and not be upcharged. Or failing that, if there is a premium for sitting in a non-middle seat that it was listed on the price itself (“$450/$470″) or, as with luggage fees, the pricing were reasonably predictable.

(Link via James Joyner.

Category: Market

Koichi Toyama ran for the Governor of Tokyo on a very unusual platform, starting off by saying that the nation is horrible and he has no interest whatsoever in political reform or any kind of reform. The nation, he states, must be destroyed.

It looks like those of us in the US missed the chance to vote for him in 2008, because we didn’t know about him and because he was ineligible to run. He makes his pitch (sort of?) here.

(Both items are subtitled.)

via Clark Popehat

Category: Theater

thatsthemoonUninsured patients are more likely to get shuffled out to a trauma center, which turns out not to be such a bad thing for them, care-wise.

Checklists are supposed to prevent unnecessary medical errors, but recently in Ontario, they didn’t work. Why? Bill Gardner explains.

Meanwhile, in Alaska, there is the hoverturbine! World’s highest.

Nevada is going green, thanks to the green energy industry.

The various scenarios of an American-Russian war.

For fear of the demographic problems looking, Japan is considering the previously unthinkable: Immigration.

The role that a wet climate played in Genghis Khan’s conquering of Asia.

Off-the-grid living is off-limits in Florida.

A woman who purports to be an undercover cop who goes to frat parties to catch (attempted) rapists says the worst part is “Knowing that every single time I go to a party, without fail, there will be someone who tries to rape me.” … “[It takes] 30min-1h30min generally”

Conservatives are tackling criminal justice reform.

Category: Newsroom


Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

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.

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