KickedTowerA Harvard sleep specialists argues that sleep is more important than practice for championship sports teams.

Universities may not be hospital to conservatives, but have become an unexpected laboratory and farm system for the GOP.

Some guy went to North Korea and learned twenty things.

Remember the whole Faces of Meth thing from Oregon? I was reminded of that when looking at these pictures of housing in Detroit.

Japanese guide learning to use the word “fuck.”

Men’s Journal explains the genius of Subaru.

Adam Ozimek tackles the “Should everyone go to college” question. Derek Thompson looks at which degrees and colleges don’t pay off.

Katherine Mangu is right: Text from the toilet with pride!

Daniel Fincke takes issue with the notion that “You can’t stop teenagers from having sex!” because he was so stopped.

Paging Former Mayor Bloomberg: Divorce is linked to obesity in children.

Sprawl, in animated GIF form.


Category: Newsroom

I previously wrote a superficial review of Atlas Shrugged. Today, I want to talk about my emotional reaction to two scenes. There are no spoilers here beyond the first third of the book.

Early on, Taggart Transcontinental Railroad’s CEO, Jim Taggart, pulled the levers of the trade group to force a regional rival, Dan Conway, to cease operation of a superior competing line, the Phoenix-Durango. The program for Taggart was that their own line, the Rio Del Norte, had fallen into disrepair and was not ready to carry magnate Ellis Wyatt’s cargo out of Colorado. Though Conway agreed to cease operations, he declined to turn his existing lines over to Taggart.

Later on, Ellis Wyatt makes the decision to join the other Makers in Galt’s Gulch. The last straw for Wyatt is a series of regulations that were tailor designed to soak every extra bit of productivity out of him for everybody else (the “common good”). Rather than simply disappear, or take what capital he could with him, he essentially destroyed his mines in a blaze of glory.

There are similarities between the two events, in that they were both examples of successful industry injured significantly by interference in the markets by outside forces (a trade group for Conway, the government for Wyatt).

There were differences, too, that lead me to view the two cases so differently. To the point that I was happy with Conway’s decisions, and angry with Wyatt’s.

The less important difference between the two was that Conway was quite directly forced out of business. After losing his line, he had no business to operate. He could have gotten a job elsewhere, but he was displaced. For Wyatt, the expectation was that he would continue operations. He had operations to continue.

The big difference, though, was that Conway tore up the lines and sold them. That he refused to sell them to the place where they were most needed bothers me less because it’s the people who most needed it that played the central role in killing his business.

Wyatt, though, simply destroyed everything in site. He left a note saying that was basically leaving everything as he found it. I’m sure Rand saw some justice in that, and perhaps there was. I had an enormous amount of difficulty seeing anything other than needless destruction.

It’s one thing to prevent somebody from having something by keeping it or deliberately giving it to someone else. In the Trumwill Way of thinking, though, it’s another to destroy it to keep them from having it.

Most likely, though, it’s my own visceral reaction to destruction itself. Though I have defended Cash for Clunkers at Hit Coffee for not being particularly responsible for the rise in used car prices, I could only look at the whole process with dismay. I understand the environmental rationale for it, but the whole thing was dedicated to taking something useful and putting it out of the reach of the people who could actually have used it.

Presumably, like Conway’s tracks, there was a recycling and re-purposing of the metal. But there are people all across the country who could use cars in good working order, and there we were destroying them. Better that they should without than that they pollute the environment with it, while large numbers of middle class Americans got a new car at a reduced price.

Whether one considers my response to C4C to be right or wrong, I do admit that this reaction of mine does go to the almost certainly irrational. While tearing something down to build something new over it isn’t really a problem for me, I get that twinge of resistance when I see something torn down because it can’t be re-used and has been declared unsightly or (less unreasonably) a hazard. But if we’re not going to do anything with the building, it really shouldn’t matter. I just don’t seem to care.

In my own personal life, this relates to my historic inability to throw away old computers if there is even a semblance of functionality. There are very, very few uses I can imagine for a Pentium laptop, but by heavens it works so how do I throw it away or turn it into the recycler? It’s something I have struggled with enormously.

Logic did finally prevail earlier this year when I spent several hours trying to get a couple of old, single-core processor machines working. I mean, that’s not when logic prevailed. Logic prevailed when, after having done so, I realized how utterly useless these computers were and did dispose of them with prejudice.

Even then, it’s amazing how hard it is. It turns on! It works! It takes twenty minutes to open up an email but… functionality! In theory, anyway.

Presumably, had Wyatt simply left the mines in tact, the “looters” would have run it into uselessness anyway as they did with the society that they were left. In the context of the story it did make sense to hurry the process along because progress in Randverse was more-or-less predicated on the collapse of civilization. Burning the village to save in and all that.


Category: Coffeehouse

Some high-falutin’ math-wiz guy on the Internet thinks that PEMDAS is stupid:

For those of you who do not recall, PEMDAS is the shorthand for the order of operations in math. Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction.

Except that from the start, we were not taught that was a rigid order. To use parenthesis, it was: Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication or Division, and Addition or Subtraction. Judging by the comment section, this was the most common way of teaching it. No matter how many times people say “No, PEMDAS means you have to put Addition before Subtraction!”

He says that PEMDAS means that 8-2+1 is five. Except that I was taught by PEMDAS, and was taught that the answer is seven. I arrive at the right destination, but according to this guy the “wrong” way because I don’t expressly consider the -2 to be + (-2).

Which brings us to his larger critique, which is the algorithmic versus conceptual math debate. My own position is that concepts are important (I was indeed taught that “-2″ is the same as “+(-2)”), but that you start with the “what” before moving to the “why.” That way, even if you don’t get the “why” you do at least understand the “what.”

More to the point, though, it makes me think of the whole vs phonics debate. Conceptual math is good for kids that are naturally good at or interested in math. It seems to be boosted by those same people, who seem to believe that if others understood math the way that they do they would be adept at it. Meanwhile, I think it will hobble the kids who will simply never understand the “why” by making learning the “what” more difficult.

Which is pretty much how whole language worked. Phonics was annoying for the verbally gifted because it was crude, unreliable, and forced-walking when they were capable of running. It, too, was a program advanced by the best and brightest and well-suited for bright kids. It was also a disaster for everyone else.

Since we seem to be moving towards the new way of doing things, I hope that I am wrong about this and it will indeed be the innovation that its proponents say it will.


Category: School

Barring something unforeseen, we are about to be homeowners. We made an offer. That offer has been accepted. Still need to get the financing. Home inspection, termite inspection, yada yada.

The whole thing is surreal. We weren’t going to start looking seriously for another few months. We were mostly looking at houses online in order to sort out amongst ourselves what we were looking for. Then I saw a house that seemed to almost perfectly walk the fine line between what she wants and what I want, at a remarkably low price. I suggested on Sunday that we go see the house for an Open House. We went, we saw, we liked. Momentum increased from there. Monday morning I talked to the bank to make sure it was do-able.

I was afraid that I might have low-balled an already generous price with our initial offer. I stuck with it, but Clancy and I decided that since we were perfectly fine with the asking price that we would probably accept whatever counter-offer they made. Their counter-offer met us half way and we took it.

It’s about fifteen minutes away from here, which means that Clancy will have a bit of a commute. It’s in Lancaster, which interestingly enough is (a) tiny and (b) more well-known than where we live. Mostly due to historical reasons. (I tell people “I live in Stonebridge” (pop >10,000) and they are confused. I say “We’re near Lancaster” (pop <1000) and they recognize it.)

Anyhow, now begins the fun part of securing financing.


Category: Home

growlGoogle Now can remember where you parked! Remembering to do this would have been very, very helpful in DC. Sorry Vikram!

An ethical question: Should your driverless car kill you to save two other people? That ethical/philosophical question doesn’t seem so pointless now, does it? [More]

Chinese employers are moving to Africa.

Houston’s bayous house over 100 vehicles.

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry says that Europe’s desire for a “Right to be forgotten” is emblematic embrace of its own decline.

The case for biking without a helmet. I don’t think I can sell Clancy on this…

Obesity comes from everywhere and nowhere at all.

This student loan calculator is pretty cool. Turns out, student loan amounts for students at Southern Tech are less than I would have guessed. Less than most schools I have found, in fact, both above us and below us in the pecking order.

What did addicts learn from DARE? How to smoke crack.

Near-earth orbit is getting cluttered with garbage.


Category: Newsroom

NavFreeOne of the many things that smartphones are good for is car navigation. Android comes with the Google Maps navigation system, but you may be interested in alternatives either because there may be something better out there (there is) or because you want to be able to use maps offline. So over the past several weeks, I’ve been using nearly every mapping option I could find, looking for the perfect free or near-free offline navigating option. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it. I did find some options that would work in a pinch. I looked at Accuracy (How up-to-date and comprehensive are the maps), Appearance (Does it look cool?), Addressing (How capable and convenient was it finding addresses), Estimations (How well it could guess how long it would take), Exploration (Can you use it to drive around without a destination in mind?) Offline Status (does it work offline), Retention (Did the program stay open and remember your route if you switched over to the music player and back), Features (what else it can do), and Voice (Whether it pauses your music while it’s talking, for example). Any grade not listed is a “C” which means that it was satisfactory but did not exceed expectations at all. (more…)


Category: Road, Server Room

Candy. From World Candy Confections. Some observations:
WorldCandy

  1. The individual “packs” are quite cool. The designs are pretty simple, but with a bit of touching up could be made to look cooler than most real cigarette packs. The brand names are actually better than a lot of the real ones. I’m eating a “Victory” brand now, which makes me think of 1984.
  2. Other brand names include Target, Stallion, King, Lucky Lights, and Round-Up. I particularly like Target and King as designs.
  3. The “Carton” doesn’t actually say “cigarettes” on there anywhere. I don’t know if that’s a recent development or they never did. I can see why they don’t now.
  4. The pieces themselves don’t look nearly as cigarette-y as I remember them. I suspect this was the case before. But in my mouth they look as much like a glorified toothpick as anything.
  5. They taste exactly as I remember them.
  6. These things used to be relatively ubiquitous. For a time, anyway. It’s not surprising that they mostly went away.

Category: Market

shadowgiantGamers, it turns out, are quite sociable.

Pluto and its moon Charon may share an atmosphere.

We’re taking a 3D printer to space. Such a thing might have made Apollo 13 a less suspenseful movie.

How well do you know your fictional world maps?

It’s become fashionable in some circles to predict the death of the NFL. Aaron Gordon looks at the various scenarios proposed and their (un)likelihood.

Nobody seems to want to and/or be able to live there, but Lloyd Alter says Buffalo is da bomb.

Noah Smith says that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is the world’s best leader. Not bad for a guy who was office barely a year the last time around.

You know Japan is worried about their age-demographic spread when they’re actually debating immigration. China has a one-child crisis, though it may not be related to the actual policy since other states without the One-Child policy face similar problems. To be fair, though, a number of them have had anti-fertility policies over the years, even if not as dramatic as One-Child.

Mexico has a vigilante squad of Good Gals With Guns.

As David Fredosso says, there’s something in this for everybody to hate: Banning Sugary Drinks in Food Stamps Could Slash Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes

Gizmodo looks at different sports and calculates how much running is involved.

A 91-year old woman in San Diego ran a 26.2 mile marathon. Which is amazing. She broke a record for her age bracket of 90-and-over, which is even more amazing. Not that she broke the record (good for her on that, of course) but that there is an age bracket with a record.

1944: Iceland, Greenland, and the United States

2009: Pravda sweepingly reports that Greenland was going to become the 51st US state! Still waiting…


Category: Newsroom

This post neither expects you to know anything about “Private Practice” nor does it expect you to care about the characters.

samandaddy

In lieu of listening to audiobooks, I am using my smartphone to listen to television shows again. I used to do this pretty regularly, but it’s harder on Android phones than it is on old school Windows Mobile phones.

Right now I am listening to Private Practice, a now-defunct spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy. I’m early into the fifth season.

In it are two lovers, Adison and Sam. Adison is getting older, has fertility issues, and wants to have children. Sam doesn’t want them, so Adison is looking at IVF. While considering IVF, Adison is going off her birth control. Due to this, she requests that Sam wears a condom. Sam tries to get out of it. She says “No condom, no sex.”

Other than condom promotion, this whole storyline is bizarre. She wants children, and has given no indication that she wouldn’t be interested in having his children. (She’s not looking for an all-star donor – never mind that even if she were looking for the perfect specimen she could probably not do better than Sam himself.)

I fail to understand how getting pregnant by Sam wouldn’t be almost ideal. Her baby has a great biological father. The father is the guy she wants to spend the rest of her life with anyway, and who if he wanted to whose children she would like to have. The only loser here would be Sam. So the natural plotline here is that Sam takes his chances, and if she did turn up pregnant then it’s Tough Luck Sam.

I can’t figure out if there is something that I am missing here, if condom promotion trumps all, or if writers are so used to the typical contraception storyline (she says where a condom, he doesn’t want to, he eventually does) that they simply couldn’t see that in this storyline it just fit at all.


Category: Theater

My skin has turned dry in recent years. I initially attributed it to the arid Arapaho climate, but it has unfortunately followed me east. It’s not as bad now, but I still make regular use of Jurgens. On the other hand, I almost never need it when I go down south because the humity prevents the dryness, which prevents the itchiness, which prevents the scratches, which prevents the irritation, which prevents the cycle of the last three from taking home.

Having the Jurgens is nice. However, I have long feared that it’s made me “weak” when it comes to avoiding scratching that which itches.

It turns out that’s only partially the case. While the humid climate of the South does not cause itches, there are bugs down there that do. Namely, chiggers. Chiggers are a particular problem at the Corrigan Compound, to the point that if you are diligent you put sulfur on your legs whenever you go out.

I didn’t.

So I got nailed with numerous chigger bites all over my feet. My most immediate concern was that, due to the above, I would not have the discipline to avoid scratching them.

It turns out, I did okay. I guess not having the Jurgens Out means that I know that I have to summon up the self-discipline not to scratch. It’s good to know that I can still do it!


Category: Elsewhere

Queenland

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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