i hate telemarketeers. i especially hate the ones that use technology to pre dial me when there might not actually be a person available to try to sell me something. cause this can happen. ring ring. me: hello? them: who is this? me: ha ha. you called me. them: click. it was b. he had picked up the phone shortly after i did. his voice is changing. and i didn't recognize it.
a second interesting abortion case goes like this: obese married lady of the age where you expect the onset of menopause. so she wasn't at all surprised when her menses disappeared for 7 months. she was quite surprised to find herself pregnant. at this point it's a more/less viable baby and no longer a fetus. so it can't be legally aborted. tests show the baby has genetic defects. which explains why she didn't notice it kicking. and is likely to need huge amounts of care for the entirety of its life. which would mean consume the limited resources the family was planning to use on their other two middle school aged kids. ouch. they would have legally aborted the fetus if they had known. but they didn't. they could birth the kid and turn it over to the state. but they may be ordered by the courts to pay for its upkeep. which puts them right back in the same bogmire. not sure which route is morally superior. murder one kid to enhance the survival of the others. or pass the burden on to someone else. they allegedly chose C) buy miscarriage inducing drugs over the internet. and dispose of the baby's corpse. they are of course, not cooperating with the police to find the body. cause an autopsy might provide evidence of a murder. which would be a travesty. people should not be punished for making a bad decision when there are no good decisions that can be made.
a couple of interesting abortion cases have come up recently. in the first a 16 year old girl is 9 weeks pregnant. she has treatable cancer. with treatment, she lives. but the fetus dies. without treatment, they both die. the law in the country is that doctors cannot perform abortions under any circumstances. the girl hasn't started treatment yet because the doctors fear they could be charged with performing a procedure they know will cause the death of a fetus. ie an abortion. apparently the wages of sin, adultery in this case, is death.
grandpa had this cool little wrench. it was sorta automatically adjustable. you just opened them up all the way, grabbed the nut, and closed them. the jaws fit to the nut and locked in place. i've been using pliers for the nigh daily reseating of the cable junctions here. the teeth on the pliers are kinda hard on the cables. this thing would do the job mas besser. he said he had several sizes. i might ask for a set for christmas. hint hint. now if only someone could do the same thing for allen wrenches. they'd be so rich.
on this latest trip to visit grandpa we discovered treetop adventures
in tahoe city. it's a series of ropes courses in, you guessed it, the treetops. they're connected together with zip lines. it's pretty fun to work real hard through the challenges. then as a reward you get to leap off a tree into space and go flying across the forest. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! heh. it's more expensive than a movie. but cheaper than a prostitute. there's a "squirrel" course for smaller people (kids). g, who's 10, did the adult course. he wanted to stay with dad and his big brother. besides. the kid course was aimed at much younger kids. he completed or "completed" all of the elements. sometimes he hung on the protection and pushed/pulled himself across. b did all of the adult elements. and the most fun one twice. i did the hardest blue course while they did the easiest pink course. g was a little short to reach all of the places he needed to clip to and unclip from. so he and i went pretty slowly sometimes. which allowed b to run off and do the blue course. which didn't work very well. afterwards we stayed together. b first. g second. b clips g to the tree and starts the next element. i catch up and unclip g from the tree. was significantly more fun this way. got stuck once on a zipline. mom had to rescue g from the ground using a really long rope attached to the line. we went to the early morning session at 9 am and had the whole place to ourselves. it was kinda cool how quickly i kinda forgot that i was some 10 meters up in a tree. seemed sorta natural. like i'm an elf who's lived here all my life.
one of the arguments against anthropomorphic climate change is that the earth is so frikken huge people can't possible affect it. that's an absurd position on its face. but we don't take things for granted here. we're scientistas! so let's do some maths. the earth is infested with 7 billion tiny little bags of meat. suppose my house were infested with 7 billion termites. with a little help from google, i calculate they could eat my house in its entirety in about 2 weeks. they could eat 25 of my houses in a year. that isn't very many considering there are more than 100 million houses just in the us. it'd take them 4 million years to eat them all. course termites don't have to eat the entire house. if they ate only 10% it'd be effectively destroyed. and if they ate only 1% it'd be damaged. okay, so 40,000 years to damage every house in the us. humans aren't really termites. termite destruction is limited to what the termite can eat. literally and thermodynamicly. ie termites are powered by what they eat. humans utilize external energy sources to make them more like super termites capable of "eating" 100x more than they eat. 7 billion super termites can damage every house in the us in 400 years. we've been super beings since about the dawn of the industrial age. about 150 years ago. so yeah, it's not at all surprising that we're seeing damage to our habitat. it might not be obvious. but you can see the termite trails if you look. or you can ignore it. for a while. til your house falls down.
there's a frisbee golf course near grandpa's house. we usually play a few rounds when we go visit. course i should say flying disc course. cause frisbee is a wham-o trademark. wee. anywho, this was the first time i tried out the driver discs. they're smaller, heavier, and have a sharper leading edge than your classic frisbee shape. they fly like crap when thrown backhand. which was frustrating. so i got mad once and flicked one forehand. and the damn thing took off like a homesick angel. and came down some 70 meters away. which was twice as far as anyone else was throwing the things. huh. okay then. pretty soon everyone was trying the drivers. frisbee physics is kinda cool. the thing naturally wants to rotate to the right. so the trick is to chuck it nearly flat so that a little bit of right turn, ie left side rises, makes the thing fly more/less flat for most of its flight. which ends when the thing stalls. and falls hard to the right. which means you can make amazing hook shots around stands of giant pine trees. course score wise i wasn't doing any better than anyone else. cause i couldn't "putt" worth a damn. ah well. was fun.
i had the opportunity to drive a prius for a while. my review is pretty simple: this car sucks ass. the user interface for cars has been developed and standardized over literally 100 years. here's a common sense thought: if you deviate from such a standard, you're more likely to make things worse than better. and prius deviates from the standard car interface a lot. and for no good reason. start with the keyless fob. get in the car. push the power button. where is it? i'll give you a hint. it's nowhere near where you'd put the key in every other car. the gearshift is a small stick on the dashboard, again away from the standard location. the lever moves in an 'h' path. it's labeled R-N-D-B. B? what the hell is B? it's engine braking. we looked it up in the owner's manual. apparently the transmission disengages both the gas engine and the electric motor when they're not being used. like say, when you're going downhill. faster and faster. use B to use the engine as a brake instead of using the brake pedal.which is what the brakes are fucking FOR. sheehs. the stick doesn't stick in R-N-D-or-B. it snaps back to it's neutral position. which isn't the N position. you can't tell what gear the car is in by looking at the gearshift. that's just fucking stupid. there's an lcd display next to the speedometer with a virtual representation of the gearshift. except it's an H, not an h. you have to look at that instead. it's nowhere near the physical gearshift. and at certain times of day, sun glare makes it fucking invisible. apparently, someone on the ui redesign committee noticed this. so they added that horrible beep beep beep sound that trucks make when they back up. but they added it INSIDE the fucking car. so when you're backing up, the driver and passengers all know it. but no one OUTSIDE the car knows you're backing down the driveway over them on silent battery power. did you notice there's no P on the gearshift? heh. P is a button. again not on the gearshift. but it's at least close by. did you notice i said the real gearshift is an h and the virtual gearshift is an H? yeah, the extra spot in the H is for the P. the fuel gauge has a giant E and F. it looks like the real thing. i'd like the actual fuel quantity meter thing to be somewhat larger. i should not have to squint to see if i'm running out of gas. occupying prime real estate on the dashboard is an ipad like display showing me how wonderful the car is. and yeah i can see the point of this. there's only so much fuel economy gains the car manufacturer can make. the biggest variable is the driver. so this ipad thing is an attempt at persuading the driver to modify their behavior. it'd be cool if it could show a gps map. that'd be useful. but no. we got into a state where pushing the unlock button didn't unlock the fucking doors. stupid. we were considering piling four people and stuff into the car through the driver's door when someone found the fob and pushed that button. cars should not feel like they think they're smarter than me. the gas pedal is weird. it's like the top half is for fine cruise speed adjustments. and the bottom half is where the power actually gets applied. so when the light turns green and you ease down on the pedal to gradually ramp up the acceleration, the car goes exactly nowhere. literally. and i mean literally. it doesn't move at all until you get to that bottom half. so you learn to stamp the fucking pedal all the way to the floor to keep from being honked at by the real cars behind you. such "rabbit" starts just seem like anathema to good mpg driving practices. i said "rabbit" cause the car's a slug off the line. which is odd, considering that real electric cars have massive torque. which makes them range from peppy to fair imitation of being shot out of a cannon. just not this frankenmobile. speaking of which, the prius has a fancy hybrid transmission. the gas engine and/or the electric motor can power the wheels. and the gas engine can power the car while the electric motor charges the batteries. this sounds pretty cool. but it switches modes often. and seemingly without rhyme or reason. like you're driving down the freeway at 65 mph and the electric motor boosts then two seconds later switches to charge. then two seconds later switches back. wtf? to their credit, all this shifting is pretty subtle. but it's noticeable to me. and sickening. literally. it's been a very long time since i've been carsick in a car. i'm not some sissy bellied barfing sissy boy. i fly airplanes upside down. but i was very glad to get out of that damn car. the other much more sensitive passengers were unhappy too. even through the dramamine they took in preparation for the trip. so final word: would not buy. would give away for nothing more then goodwill.
so for next april fool's day i'm going to make up some poo stickers and put them in the bottom of the toilets at home and at work. it'll look like there's a turd stuck at the bottom of the pot. people will flush and flush and never clear the thing. some will get out the plunger. maybe i'll prank the plunger too. but of course it won't do any good. they'll be for sale. man, i'm gonna be so rich.
so here's an interesting thought. humanity consumes some 16 terawatts of power. which must be radiated away into space. fortunately, the earth is kinda big. so we have lots of area over which to spread this extra heat. still though, it's some 0.024 C. raw. people who study such things say the greenhouse effect introduces a positive feedback multiplier of some 3.8. thank god. otherwise the earth would be frozen solid like hoth. so anywho, that's still slightly less than 0.1C. which is a non-negligible chunk of the observed warming over the past century. note that the source of this energy doesn't matter as long as it didn't come more/less directly from the sun. like solar, wind, and hydro. most of the energy we use would have stayed stored without human intervention. so it counts for our purposes. okay so let's get silly. the earth becomes uninhabitable at 35 C and 95% humidity. that's about 21 C warmer than today. we'd need to burn some 3.7 petawatts to heat ourselves to that temperature. which is an increase of some 230 fold. the past several decades have seen an increase of energy usage of 5% per year. at that rate we'll cook ourselves in 110 years. which is a far far more dire result than what even the most looney ipcc global warming "alarmists" have been predicting. even at 2% growth we all die in 275 years. better buy land on antarctica for your great grandchildren. heh. course that assumes energy usage will grow at an exponential rate. which isn't physically possible. course the converse means that the economy will permanently stop growing relatively soon. if it hasn't already. no matter how much politicians and mainstream economists say otherwise.
the founding fathers fucked up. big time. the problem is the apportionment clause. under the articles of confederation the government could requisition taxes from the states. by population. which seemed reasonably fair. so under the then new constitution, they kept that idea with respect to direct taxes. and by that they pretty much meant every kind of tax that wasn't an import or export tax. so now you're asking, what's the problem? yeah, it's not obvious. no wonder the founding fathers missed it. according to their intent, income tax would be a direct tax. which means it would have to be apportioned to the states by population. mississippi and connecticut for example both have about 3 million people. so the states would have to pay the same dollar value in income taxes. but incomes in connecticut are nearly twice incomes in mississippi. so the people in mississippi would have to pay an income tax rate twice as high as the people in connecticut. which is complete bullshit. and it runs afoul of the constitution that says congress can't levy a tax that favors one state over another. it didn't take long for the issue to wind up in the supreme court. which was composed probably not surprisingly mostly of founding fathers. the right thing to do would be to ratify an amendment. but instead direct-tax was interpreted narrowly. at the time, federal taxes were practically insignificant. so no one cared. and apportionment really handcuffed the government's ability to grow into the bloated pig it is today. so maybe the founding fathers didn't fuck up after all. the politicians who passed the 16th amendment fucked up. now congress can tax income without apportioning it. and grow unchecked. but only income. and not consumption or wealth. which would be more fair. for which income is a poor proxy.
apparently microsoft reads my blog. remember when i was bitching about the system update breaking volume mixer? heh. well they read that. and they figgit. it works again. yay! now i don have to worry about stupid ads auto-talking at me over my music. sheehs. thanks bill. lotta other folks noticed the problem too. some had some pretty stupid suggestions. secure in their infallibility. most blamed google. cause it was most notable in browsers. so obviously it's google's fault.
so some folks bought diablo 3. and played it on their linux boxes using wine. which is undoubtedly a pretty cool trick. they got banned. for life. cause wine tripped the hacker detection software. so far blizzard has turned a deaf ear to their arguments that they're not cheating. that wine doesn't give them an unfair advantage. that it simply allows them to play on something other than windows. so far, blizzard hasn't even given them their money back. heh. that'll learn em. if you're going to use wine you might as well pirate the game first to see if a) the game will run and b) the game company will allow you to play on this unorthodox platform. then buy the product. sheehs. hey blizzard! there's the company called onlive. users can't cheat using hacks on their own computer. cause the game isn't running on the user's computer. you don't need to assume your customers are untrustworthy thieves. yeah customers, the people who buy your products and pay your salaries. heh. just pass me your lunch. your delicious lunch.
so president obama said romney pays about 15% federal taxes which is "much less" than "many" middle class americans. the washington post gave him three pinochios for that one. hrm. let's look at it in terms of wealth taxes. romney's net worth is some $230 million. he paid some $3 million in federal taxes. that's a rate of 1.3%. pretty cushy if you ask me. the median family's net worth is about $67k. its income is $50k. its effective tax rate is 15%. its wealth tax rate is 11%. give or take. but you know what? it just doesn't fucking matter if i'm off by a few percentage points. for romney his tax burden is nuthin'. for everyone else it's a sizable chunk. so yeah. obama's statement is dead on. romney's 1.3% tax rate is definitely *much less* than what *many* middle class americans pay when measured in the only metric that really matters: the percentage of your stuff that you fork over to uncle sam each year.
so we had a company wide shutdown over the week of july 4th. i walked into the men's room. had that horrified adrenaline rush. did an about face. and walked right back out again. i checked the sign on the door expecting it to say women. but no. it still said men. whew. i knew they did some stuff at work. like paint the handicapped spots in the parking garage. and clean the floors. apparently they did some work in the men's room too. the urinal moved across the room into the acute corner. the old urinal location is now a stall. presumably there's a pot in there. i didn't actually look. that's the thing that threw me for such a mental loop. heh. we're not battlestar galactica yet. nowhere close.
we were going to go hiking on the fourth of july. but the beautiful and talented alisa threw out her back. we decided to go when she felt better. which was yesterday. we went somewhere we've never been before. sorta. we returned to a previously visited park. but hiked new trails. so that counts. i was in the back. i hear, rattle shriek shriek shriek shriek jump jump jump jump. the last shriek and jump were me of course. i had no idea what i was shrieking at and jumping from. but all i knew was there a rattlesnake just off the trail between me and the family. i eyeballed him for a bit. and he eyeballed me. then i calmly walked past. the trail wound around on the way up the hill. so we called down to the couple below us. rattlesnake! 10' in front of you. on the left. they waved and smiled. moments later we heard more shrieking than before. which is odd. cause it was just the one woman. they skipped that part of the trail and cross countried it up to where we were. they were young and had long legs. so they quickly overtook us. later we saw a kingsnake. i'm going to have to start calling her the the beautiful and talented sharp-eyed alisa. shortly after we saw the same couple as before. they took different trails and were now going the opposite direction. so we warned them about the snake. yeah yeah. no really. the king snake. about 50m ahead on the left.
my kid just beat me at racquetball. wee. my younger kid. sigh.
b has a job. he plays chess with a four year old neighbor. we'll call him 'a'. here's the catch: he must not let the kid win. i assume this isn't a problem. but maybe the kid's catching on. they've switched to other strategy games. like othello and stratego. let me know when he gets to borderlands and diplomacy. that'll be cool. i can imagine 'a' when he gets to b's middle school gaming club. mr r will crap square bricks when he finds out this kid's been trained by b since he was four.
the beautiful and talented alisa and myself were biking home from the farmer's market laden with fresh produce. i said, a dragon hord is very different from a dragon hord. she laughed politely. and said, one's a host of dragons and the other's a big pile of treasure. heh. i put on my best genuinely confused face. what? no. says me. i meant a dragon forced into prostitution.
steven hawking threw a party for time travelers. but no one showed up. the party was apparently some time in 2009. he allegedly sent out invitations after the party. to see if anyone could would show up ready to party down. thus violating the fundamental principle of cause and effect. which would pretty much bring science, not to mention law, to its knees. i say allegedly sent the invitations. when exactly was it? and where? go ahead. google for the time and location of steven hawking's time traveler party. he hasn't sent out the invitations yet. and probably won't. you know, just to ensure he gets the result he wants. and he calls himself a scientist. for shame. for shame.
the beautiful and talented alisa and the boys when picking olala berries last week. they made pie. it was delicious. it was best on the first day. even if it was a bit runny. i dunked fresh bread in the juice. and that was delicious. course given the choice between dunking bread in berry pie juice and eating another slice of pie, i would have happily eating another slice of pie. but then the rest of family wouldn't have gotten any. sigh. i was good. there are more berries. maybe we'll get another pie. mmm... pie.
the power was cut off in our neighborhood early sunday morning. a line broke. came down. set a bush on fire. it was all very exciting. or would have been. if it wasn't 6 o'clock in the fricken morning. anywho. the last time the power went out, it was down for days. this was during the time when the power companies were somewhat less regulated and yielded to the temptation to optimize their profits instead of their service. so parts weren't available in all locations in a timely fashion. this time though, power was restored in about 5 hours. which was about as long as it took me to retrain my fingers to not automatically hit the light switch when i opened the pantry door. so yeah, too much government is bad. too little government is bad. the trick is to find just right.
so the other day the beautiful and talented alisa handed me a freezer bag containing four thick pork chops all frozen together. separate two, she says. heh. no problem. so i got down the raw meat cutting board. and i got the special frozen meat separating knife. there's really nothing actually all that special about it. it's a bit thicker and heftier than normal. and the tip's broken off. from a previous meat separating exercise. it's been replaced in the cooking knife rack. so no one really cares how much i abuse it any more. muhahahahahah! so anywho. the first step is to bang the frozen meat on the cutting board as hard as one can in the hopes that something breaks. lookie! it did. success? no. it was the cutting board that split into two pieces. fail. ah well. easy enough to fix. the special meat separating knife made short work of the frozen together meat. yesterday i got around to gluing the cutting board back together. i clamped it to another sturdy board of similar size. then used the big clamps to squish the ends together real tight. no sweat. sorta. somehow while unclamping the newly unbroken cutting board, it snapped in half in a different place. so i had to repeat the process today. except it was compounded by the fact that this break wasn't clean and smooth. it had to first be sanded. and sawed. and sanded. and sawed. until the edges were close enough to flush. which took way way way more effort than expected. i haven't unclamped it yet. i'm kinda afraid to. given what happened yesterday. well, if anything interesting happens, you'll hear about it right here.