and boom. just like that. the rains stopped. it's warm out when we bike the kids to school. the ground is still soft. but all in all, summer's here. like flipping a switch.
saturday night was earth hour. millions of people all over the world turn out the lights. it's some sort of symbolic thing to celebrate fucking up the planet. or something. anywho, it sounded like fun. especially since it was right in the middle of family game time. so we were playing warhammer quest by candlelight. it was kinda fun. i accidentally cheated. pink horrors of tzeetch have weapon skill 5, not 3. they got me a battery powered lantern. i think that's kinda cheating earth hour. oh well. not sure how many other dice rolls were misread. the game had a normal number of encounters with an unusually large number of opponents. bedtime came before we got to the objective room. the dumb cats didn't discover all those fun toys laid out on the table just for them. everything was still where left it. lucky.
i kinda like to watch the windows updates install. they're kinda like treats. it reminds me that there are bad guys out there trying to take over my computer. but there are also good guys out there keeping it safe. it's a nice warm fuzzy feeling. the implementation is a bit too much on the invisible side. you have updates to install. click. ooo lookie. virus scan update thingie. click install. window closes. wtf? bubble pops up. click again to go back to where i was. stupid computer. do what i tell you to do. don't just guess what i want you to do and do it. cause then i have to tell you to undo it. sheehs.
natural gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. the stuff that leaks out of your gas line sure isn't. they add a stinky smell to it. specifically so people can tell when there's a gas leak. it's a pretty good idea. if it stinks that bad, it must be dangerous enough to kill you. whereas if it's just a little stinky or just a little unsightly, like pollution from a coal burning power plant, it must be perfectly safe. however, if it's a completely invisible poison it must be incredibly deadly. like radiation. it's kinda too bad we can't make radiation stinky. or visible. or stinky and visible. but just a little. then folks wouldn't be afraid of it. heh. i'd be so rich. ah well.
why don't we have any nuclear power plants? they're expensive. now. they were cheapest energy around by a long shot 40 years ago. why are they expensive now? labor. you'd think mining coal would be more labor. but that's cheap labor. nuclear power plants need lots of professional labor. which is very expensive. first, the things are not idiot proof. so you need highly trained engineers staffing them. second and more importantly, lawyers are involved. there are so many laws and regulations and shit to wade through. it's crazy. and expensive. in the end, it's cheaper to burn coal.
a while ago i was floating the idea of putting nuclear power plants on barges. crazy idea i know. think about it though. aircraft carriers and submarines use them. folks have made nuclear powered cruise ships before. one could imagine using them at the sites of natural disasters. earthquake hits burma. the uss glowy pulls up, plugs in, and voila! you have emergency power. disposal is easy. just fill the thing with concrete and scuttle it in the deep ocean. yeah i know folks are gonna hate that idea. but it's a hell of a lot better than storing a billion curies in a pool of water. in a three story building. sheehs. that's just tempting the gods to smite you. anywho. it's not such a crazy idea anymore. with five minutes of warning, operators at fukushima could have undocked and headed out to sea. would have saved hundreds of lives. and whole lot of money.
starlight princess caught a bird. and ate it. well most of it. it took a while before we noticed and the beautiful and talented alisa took it away. what an injustice! we heard about it for a long time. heh. skipped right over the mouse catching stage. course there really aren't that many mice around here. lot more birds. trouble has stopped growing. whew. his poor kitteh brain finally caught up with his limbs. now he looks like a sleek powerful cat. instead of a super clumsy beast. he chases laser dots across the walls with all four paws churning furiously. sideways. kinda impressive actually. cool cats can skip a landing on the cat tower. trouble can skip two. he's also a bit of a roamer. despite the rain. his fur seems to be pretty waterproof. and warm. kinda like an otter. oddly enough. starlight princess prefers inside when it's cold and wet. my allergies seem to be under control. we let them come in our bedroom at night now. they haven't learned yet that they're not allowed on the pillows. and they are especially not allowed on my face. no matter how loudly they purr.
don't mess with me boys. or i'll use his intestines to floss yours.
my initial reaction to the damaged reactors in japan was that everyone was going to freak. some did. mostly though the reaction seems to be quite a bit more calm than i was expecting. my initial post on the subject was a bit of an anti-knee jerk. and obviously at the time very little information was available at the time. so those who predicted the end of the world were just as wrong as those who stuck their heads in the sand. and perhaps i should include myself in that latter category. i said mostly likely it'd be like three mile island. ie a big fat nothing. but in reality it's a lot worse than that. these reactors were designed in the early '60s. like before i was born. there were computers then. not many. but a few. they had like 1 kilobyte of memory. that's 1000 bytes. heh. today a coder would use that much for temporary throw away space. the computers that went to the moon only had 2k of memory. anywho, these reactors were designed, practically by slide rule, to survive a magnitude 7 earthquake. they got a jolt some 10x to 100x larger. and they held together mostly. at least long enough for most people to evacuate the area. i think two of the containment vessels actually broke and vented a burst of radioactive materials into the atmosphere. 30 miles away the dose was like what you get during a mammogram. you definitely do not want that every day. at the risk of sticking my foot in it again, i'm going to consult my magic 8-ball and predict the extra deaths from the nuclear power plant will be about 1% of the deaths from the earthquake and tsunami.
mac v pc
i've been using my mac pro as a pc for quite some time. i switch between using macs and pcs quite a bit. so to stoke the old mac v pc fires, here are my thoughts: first when i say pc i mean a pc running 64 bit windows 7. none of the following applies for other versions of windows. this is a forward looking fair and balanced post so that which happened before does not concern us. sorry apple. no points. i hate spotlight. i may have it configured wrong. but big plus for the pc. hitting the delete key on the pc to go back weirds me out. course command-down-arrow to launch something is non-intuitive. small plus for the mac. vastly superior choice of video cards for the pc. big plus for pc. the unix terminal on the mac crushes the dos shell. medium plus for mac. file sharing on the pc sucks. big plus for mac. you get a lot more options in pc land. in mac land you get whatever steve jobs likes. medium plus for the pc. as far as software goes, i use open source stuff on both platforms whenever i can. it's a wash. desktop background pictures give the mac a small plus. i haven't compared costs recently. so i can't award anything there. the pc startup sound is an ultra lame beep. i miss the mac's hearty bong. small plus for mac. the uac thing for pc is annoying but necessary evil. we haven't had much trouble with viruses. the boys' pc has chronic malware issues. they like the flash game sites. small minus for the boys. ;-> so yeah, emotions aside, both get the the job done.
as a pc, the mac pro is a questionable choice. you can put any pc video card in it you want. however, doing so pretty much means it won't boot as a mac any more. kernel panic. wee. most video cards need more power than they can suck through the pci bus. neat huh? they need a more direct connection to the power supply. the mac makes this kinda difficult. video cards for mac come with a special cable that plugs in to the motherboard. video cards for pcs don't. wee. you can buy a proper cable for $30 on the internet. or you can buy a $3 cable from fry's. the mac pro's power supply is hidden away. i don't use the cd drive. so i unplugged it and used the $3 cable to connect the cd's power cord to the video card. wee. did i mention i bought a real life pc? wee. go apple. stick with the novelty appliances. play games in the cloud.
the tooth fairy made its last visit to our house last night. g lost the last of his baby teeth. three years early. kid's got a strange little over achiever for a mouth. i blame his mother. she had extra wisdom teeth. obviously not enough though. she did marry me after all.
my political activism is generally limited to what i post here. and how my wife makes me vote at the polls. i went to a political fund raiser once. it was for evan baye way back when. i liked his pro technology pro science pro responsible spending stance. course that's pretty much anathema in washington these days. sigh. so he retired cause he couldn't stand the politicking. which i think is just really weird. course not as weird as his new job: fox news pundit. i hope this is means fox is trending towards that mythical beast of fair and balanced news reporting. or maybe he's just the token democrat. someone to let beck get his froth on.
i had to upgrade the video card in my mac pro bootcamp pc to a gts 240. don't like it. it's noisy. it's hot. and it's not all that performant. even if you take into account it's probably plugged in to a pci slot configured to be x1. wee. anywho. new pc is supposed to arrive today. then my mac can go back to being a mac. ordered the new pc from cyberpowerpc. i had some unusual requirements so i couldn't just go to fry's. like it needs both an ati and an nvidia card. don't ask. i won't tell even if you did.
i asserted yesterday nuclear power plants are safe. let's see just how safe. in terms of deaths per unit of power (not counting estimated deaths from global warming): hydroelectric kills 2.5; wind kills 4; rooftop solar power kills 10; natural gas kills 100; biofuel 300; us coal 375; oil 900; coal world wide 4000; chinese coal 7000. compare all those dead people to nuclear: 1. that's right. we are sacrificing the lives of real life human beings because of our irrational fear of radiation. phooey. 2 million people live in hiroshima. even if you count the number of extra deaths from cancer from the slightly higher levels of radiation due to the uncontrolled nuclear reaction of the atomic bomb, nuclear power is still the safest way to go.
if this country really wants energy independence, we need to go nuclear. the question right now is, what will the emergencies in japan do to the american nuclear program? there are already knee jerk reactions to put all future nuclear power plants on hold. as if they aren't already. the administration has a chance to spin things in favor of nuclear power. the strange marriage of eco-terrorists, big coal, and big oil have made us absolutely terrified of radiation. phooey. the reactors in japan just took a one-two shot ten times more powerful than their design criteria. and you know what? the things held together. not exactly flying colors. but it wasn't chernobyl. at worst, it'll be like three mile island. ie negligible radiation. the damn things are safe. let's put it this way. the priorities in japan are: water, food, security, shelter, medicine, tentacle porn, nuclear power plants. should be pretty easy. cause there isn't any. and most likely, won't be anything significant. and even if there were, the number of extra deaths from a nuclear plant meltdown is insignificant compared to the deaths from the earthquake, tsunami, and non-nuclear aftermath.
so in practice the other day, a kid who's never played baseball before was the second baseman. the batter hits a fly ball that's coming down between him, the pitcher, and the first baseman. he calls, i got it! heh. cool. lotta kids who've been playing for four years don't do that. he runs under it. again way cool. the ball hits him in the glove and bounces out. oops. except it bounced straight to the first baseman standing on first base. he fields it for the out. heh. nice.
i like fark because the headlines are interpreted in the funniest possible way. i expect that. it's humor. the same practice annoys me when i go somewhere for serious news. there i expect the headline to not be misleading. yesterday's annoyance, blast at nuke plant; thousands missing. gah! that sounds like one heck of a blast, doesn't it? sigh. they're unrelated. thousands are missing because of the tsunami. not because of the blast at the nuke plant. sheehs. course it got me to click through. yeah. enjoy that $0.0001. slimy bastards. here. let me try. timmer posts on disaster; millions of dollars raised.
little league season just started. i'm coaching g this year. so it's a whole new batch of kids' names to learn. wee. adam austin. pah. go kid. good job! hee. this isn't the most talented bunch i've ever coached. they are however, the most fun. there's only one kid who practices active resistance. and then only sometimes. he wants to pitch. so that's a nice big carrot to dangle in front of him. oddly, the kid who never played baseball before is one of the best players. he's real smart. apparently he learns technique from stepping single frame through videos. hey. whatever works for him. and then there's the girl who's the friend of the coach's daughter. she's got a cannon for an arm. and mom signed her up for "stupid softball".
there's an easy way to shift the tax burden from the middle to the top. well, in theory anyway. when an employer pays an employee the fed and state take a substantial cut. most of this is subtracted from the employee's paycheck. for example, i pay you $100. you pay $30 in taxes. okay now apply a little bookkeeping magic. i pay you $70 and the government $30. suddenly, you're living tax free. and i, the man, has been stuck with the tax bill. the money flows exactly the same way. it's just a matter of perception. so from this point of view, it's completely fair that warren buffett pays 11% income tax when his secretary pays 30%. cause in reality, since he pays her salary he should get credit for paying her taxes. right? heh. taxing income is just weird.
health insurance tax
continuing yesterday's thinking... obama care is like a per employee tax. there will be some pressure on employers to reduce size of their work force. especially on employers of low wage employees. employers who employ high wage employees generally already provide health care. so the new laws will have no effect. the result will be fewer lowest wage jobs. and/or higher prices. heh. just something to think about when you're waiting for your order at your favorite fast food place.
good worker tax
taxing income is really weird from the point of view of the employer. yes, the employee technically pays the income tax. but the employee accepts the job offer based on how much money they actually get to take home. ie after taxes. therefore, the employer must cover their taxes. the tax rate for a low wage employee is lower than for a high wage employee. so there's some pressure to hire low wage, ie bad, employees instead of high wage, ie good, employees. even though they do the same work for the same total take home pay. this is just weird. it encourages employers to hire large numbers of inefficient workers. heh. just something to think about when you're waiting for your order at your favorite fast food place.
we have cable for internet. it works great. except when it drops. once is a random event. but the second time in a day something is very very wrong. the tech support folks tell me to power cycle the modem. which pretty much does nothing whatsoever. sometimes they reset the modem from their end. i think this resets their modem too. sometimes this fixes the problem. at least for a while. which makes me think the quality depends on which frequency band the modem happens to connect to. ie until we end up back in the bad band. sigh. the most reliable solution is to not call. and not reset the modem. but to loosen then re-tighten every cable connection in the house. note to self: next time, put the cable modem on the top of the stack. sigh. i've noticed that a connection that isn't cranked down really tight has a lot more noise than one that is. hrm. this makes me think the connections are being loosened because of the constant change of temperature. the swings have been pretty dramatic recently. heh. global warming makes your internet suck. hee hee.
more line art in the links to the left. this one focuses on amusing venn diagrams and graphs. current fave
. current runner up
rich poor gap
i bitch and moan about the rich poor gap here in the united states. but in all honesty, it ain't so bad. 10% of people own 90% of the world. most of the world lives in poverty. 20% of americans own 87% of the united states. that's significantly better. we are a rich country. that's what's called a correlation. is there causation here? i'd like to think so. i'd like to think that we're rich as a nation because the american system is good at enabling upward mobility. ie it's good at moving wealth from the rich to the non-rich. if that's true then we should be able to increase the nation's wealth even further by tweaking the system to be even more efficient at creating opportunity for a kid born have-not to raise kids have.
the spanish word for brooch is broche. i was helping g study for his spanish test when the beautiful and talented alisa and b were off skiing. his english pronunciation isn't stellar. and his spanish is worse. i had to have him repeat broche (broh-shay or broh-tchay) several times before it didn't sound quite so like uh bullshit.
i watched a high speed video of a bomb exploding over a fighter plane full of fuel sitting on the ground. the fireball from the bomb grew for several frames. then all of a sudden the fighter plane exploded into its own fireball. which looked kinda odd. and not a little fake. cause the bomb fireball hadn't reached it yet. heh. course there are at least three ways for heat to move: conduction, convection, and radiation. obviously it was the latter that set off the doomed jet. since it happens at the speed of light.
new rules for credit card companies have gone into effect. it's pretty obvious. under the old rules i would get my bill just in time to pay it before the past due date. this was kinda annoying when you went on vacation. i'd pay off the card in advance. and not use it to buy anything. if i miss by a day, they collect late fees. and they charge me interest on any charges from the moment i make them until i pay off a bill on time. pretty neat huh? now though. i get the bill the day after the end of the billing period. it's kinda creepy how fast the thing shows up in my mailbox. anywho, the strategy now is twofold. get my money as soon as they can. or hope that since the bill is actually due so far in the future, i put off paying it so for so long i forget about it. and we end up in the same late fee interest charging cycle.
is it theoretically possible to travel through time? absolutely. but only forwards. not backwards. we are all travelling through time right now. at pretty much the same rate. so to disappear from the now and show up in the future without aging, all you have to do is travel around at nearly the speed of light. simple no? ender did it in speaker for the dead. completely plausible. however, hollywood excepted, there's no way to go the other way. sorry.
let's get rid of all federal taxes. no more income tax. yay! no more corporate taxes. yay! no more gas social security medicare nose taxes. yay yay and yay! okay so now the soldiers show up at my door in their snazzy uniforms and their shiny guns full of deadly ammunition asking, politely, how they're going to get paid. hee hee. okay. wealth tax. here's how it works. calculate your net worth. take a $1 million deduction. your tax bill is 5% of that. make check payable to timmer, president of new america. thanks! and yeah this is the simple version of the plan. in reality, it'd be a progressive wealth tax that starts at say 1% and climbs to 20% at say $10 billion. the average would be 5%. government should be in favor cause they get more than they get now. businesses should be all in favor. cause their employees just got a 20% raise. woo hooty! and their operating costs just went down by some 10%. and they don't need such a huge accounting department. we can redirect those folks to doing something more productive. some activity that actually makes money. the poor won't care. the middle class should say, yay! pay raise. BIG pay raise. the rich say oh shit. the game just changed from hide the income to hide the wealth. heh. new game. new way to game the system for all its worth. erp, so to speak. would we have more millionaires? nope. probably not. most folks would be more interested in spending money than accumulating it. and they'll have a great time doing it. happy? you bet. no taxes. more beer. i figure, under this system, my wife and i would have accumulated what we have in about half the time. even accounting for a reduced salary. life would be good at least until the higher tax rates kick in and we start paying more than we would have under the old system. a LOT more. i'm sure that'd make me mad. aaargh! just so mad i'd have to take the family someplace tropical in our private jet just to get over it. grump grump.