Monthly Archives: January 2013

Not often, but I sometimes get conspiratorially-minded. The case of the NCAA screwing up the investigation of Miami (FL) to my usually dormant conspiratorial instincts. This has the potential to save the NCAA from making a very difficult decision. Enough so that I wonder – at least a little – if it wasn’t sabotaged. I’m sure Miami-Ohio is breathing a little easier, though.

Tom Tancredo lost a bet and will have to smoke pot. Awesome. Good on him for keeping up his side of the bargain.

I link to this article of a fire in Chicago because you have to see the picture. It’s far out.

Canada has denied Randy Quaid’s request for permanent status. It looks like we’re stuck with him.

Via the New York Post and AP, an interesting story of how a clerk at Papa John’s managed to talk a thief out of taking money and into taking a pizza instead.

Having read this list of 10 lessons from creationist-inspired school books, I decided that I needed a drink.

I’ve been addicted to the Android game Temple Run lately. I can play it with one hand, which is very helpful when holding a baby. Here’s the story of how it came to be. Also from BusinessInsider, a look at where Google keeps your data.

Discussed recently on NaPP, a look at the rebound effect of energy efficiency. The “rebound effect” being that people who have more energy efficient things end up using it more and undercut the energy savings. They exist, but are not large enough to offset the energy savings.

A case for and against the Rooney Rule (actually the “pro-” says TRR isn’t enough). The Rooney Rule is the NFL’s insistence that minority candidates be interviewed.

Here is more on the giant squid, and its hunter.

Aquaman gets no respect.

After we made one, what exactly would we do with a neanderthal?

Category: Newsroom

And so are a number of other countries (perhaps every last one, in their own way).

Steven Taylor* posts excerpts from and a link to an interview with an American political operative who has done some work in Israeli elections. He comments:

This struck me on a couple of levels. First, this is fundamentally what comparative political inquiry is: the systematic understanding of similarities and differences across cases to help produce a broader understanding of the political. Second, it is a good example of how groups of people like to think that they are somehow exceptional or unique when, in fact, they only think that because they don’t know all that much about other places. This is a mistake that Americans writ large make all time. Of course, everybody thinks that they, or their group, is exceptional (and maybe sometimes they are), but often our view of how special we are is derived from the fact that we only know one thing and we just assume that it has to be special.

There’s not much to disagree with there, that we can learn from other countries and they can learn from us. As Americans, we are often more enthusiastic about the latter than the former.

That said, when we do so, I think that there are ways in which we do have to consider that we are different (just as we should consider ways in which other countries are different from us). To use an example of international comparison that conservatives make, for instance, I don’t think that there is a whole lot that we can learn from Switzerland’s high rates of gun ownership and low rates of gun crimes. And when I take a position against learning from Scandinavian experience, it’s not political rhetoric. Even things that Scandinavian countries do that I like – such as Sweden’s voucher system – are mostly transferable to the US in my mind and imagination. Not that it wouldn’t work, or that it would, but it’s speculation. Ditto Finland.

A lot of my thirties has been spend learning the notion of context-dependent. While I am generally a supporter of gun rights here, if I were in Singapore or Japan, I’d likely not support a second amendment there. I used to glibly state “any nation that needs a draft to staff an army is probably not worth protecting,” but having learned more about the situations in some other countries (like Israel), I’ve learned it’s remarkably context-dependent. And my argument comes across like “any country that has to pressure people to get vaccinations deserves to be struck with polio.

Now, when I talk about the US as being exceptional, one thing I am not willing to argue is that we are exceptional in our exceptionalism. Being the ugly American that I am, there aren’t many countries I actually know enough about to know how alike or different they are than we are. That’s not to say I sink into absolute relativism and decline to make judgments, though I try to be less judgmental of them than I am of US.

In many ways, I don’t worry about when we are out of sync with the rest of the world. I mean, I look at our health care system and the fact that it’s different than elsewhere nearly isn’t as troublesome as the fact that it’s expensive and inefficient. I oppose the death penalty, but the fact that it is banned elsewhere doesn’t play much of a role, and so on. I have a not-admirable tendency to get irked when internationalists look at how we are out of step and seem to imply that such should be an indication that we are deficient. We are us. Exasperating, chaotic, diverse, gargantuan us. Unique, for better or worse.

To one of the points that Taylor specifically points to, I don’t really look at multi-party systems like what Israel has and envy it. I believe that there are definite advantages to the American two-party system. Which sometimes gets me looks like I am the American who is closed off to other options. Truthfully, there are some aspects of other systems I do like (the National/Liberal distinction in Australia, for example), though I am not sure how we would get from here to there. I do like New York’s fusion ticket… but the party apparatus destroyed that. So to an extent, it is very much the sort of status quo bias that Taylor has criticized. But I suppose it’s the small-c conservative in me that is skeptical of widespread electoral reform.

Which all brings me back to my general support for federalism, where it becomes easier to try things on our shores with our people to then start expanding as they prove effective or limiting exposure when they prove not to be. I am far more comfortable taking something that is working in New York and California and rolling it out nationally than I am taking something that is working for Japan or even Australia. (Some of this emanating from a view not typically associated with what Taylor is talking about: My belief that Americans can screw just about anything up, no matter how well it works elsewhere.)

* – I should note that I have a history is misinterpreting a lot of what he says, and niggling at it. Even though I am not sure we are even all that far apart politically, there is just a bit of a disconnect at times and I am sure it’s my fault. This post is not a case where I think I am rebutting what he says, merely tracing my own thoughts of my own reaction. There is a good chance that we disagree only a little, or not at all.

Category: Statehouse

American companies have pushed their limits on India and outsources.

I think China is in for a world of hurt with a lot of their perpetual construction, but I actually think their knock-off cities and landmarks are kind of cool. It reminds me of Las Vegas, actually. But hard core.

Relatedly, a look at China’s future.

James Bond, for realz. (Well, the seduction angle, anyway.)

Mona Lisa… on the moon.

Minnesota is taking some needed steps to prevent some of the debt collection abuse we’ve been seeing in this country.

My recent experiences with the IRS have been less than pleasant, and apparently I am not alone. But there have been some positive developments.

TechCrunch calls Utah an unlikely tech hub, though there’s really no particular reason for that to be the case. It has a strong white-collar culture, good education system, and business-friendly culture. The corridor between Salt Lake City and Provo is really quite impressive.

The extraordinary cynicism of Dick Morris. What’s notable is that he was a great political mind, once.

US oil production is going up, up, up.

Dave Schuler has some ideas on inequality and stimulus investment that are worth thinking about.

Category: Newsroom

Of the (apparently failed) attempt to rig the electoral college in Virginia, Burt Likko writes:

Forgive me if I’m less than impressed with the notion that this would completely de-legitimize any Presidential election in which a Republican happened to win. After all, I can foresee that district-level allocation would result in fewer campaign resources being put in to a state certain to be divided — Virginia could be diminishing rather than enhancing its role as a key player in Presidential politics by splitting its 13 electoral votes roughly down the middle — if the Republican is going to get not fewer than 5 votes and the Democrat not fewer than 4, then only 4 and not 13 votes are in play, so it’s not as much of a prize.

You see, the fear on the part of Democrats, and the hope on the part of Republicans, comes from the fact that by virtue of controlling a majority of state legislatures at the point in the electoral cycle when redistricting happens, Republicans have gerrymandered themselves into a majority of Congressional districts. The assumption is that election results on a district-by-district basis will roughly parallel elections to the House. Which means Republicans will have a “locked in” advantage of thirty-three votes because the 2012 Congressional elections returned 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats.

In 2012, Barack Obama won 27 jurisdictions (26 states and D.C.) and Mitt Romney won 24, so that means that the Electoral College results of 255 votes for Obama and 282 votes for Romney, notwithstanding that the popular vote was very much in Obama’s favor. And that will be how every election for the remaining duration of the Republic will turn out. (There, I just spared you reading the article on Larry Sabato’s blog.)

The danger, it seems to me, is the redefining of the acceptable. No, Maine and Nebraska don’t make much of a difference. No, Virginia on its own won’t make much of a difference. But once the precedent is set, it’s really hard to take back. Perhaps the most optimistic things that can be said about it are that (a) it won’t spread or (b) that it will lead to a collapse of the electoral college as a whole. The former is hardly a ringing endorsement because the possibility that it might be wrong far could be catastrophic to the system. The latter depends on much to come to fruition, and supposes that the electoral college is so bad that it’s worth getting worse for the possibility of it getting better.

If put to referendum, I would vote to do away with the Electoral College tomorrow. But… I don’t consider it to be evil. I consider the cons to outweigh the pros. There are advantages insofar as it prevents a Republican from winning by running up extreme victories in the south and it prevents Democrats from winning by running up high totals in urban areas. It also forces candidates to spend time away from urban and suburban areas, which I do not altogether consider to be a bad thing. But the breaking down of an election to a select number of states has a distorting effect that outweighs those advantages.

There is also something to be said for election-by-district. There is nothing, in theory wrong with splitting votes by legislative districts. The parliamentary system works with a similar dynamic (a candidate can lose the “popular vote” but still wind up being Prime Minister). However, the totality of events and factors relating to Virginia in particular make their actions nothing short of reprehensible. It’s indefensible. I can come up with rationales for a lot of things, but not this. Gerrymandering may be old hat, and district-based allocation are nothing new, and holding a vote based on who is and is not in the state is not unheard of… but this is all of those things and more.

I am less skeptical than Burt is that the Electoral College is now and always. Because it sometimes advantages one party and sometimes the other, a couple rapid-succession flipped votes could lead to a consensus. Because one party is more predisposed to support it than another, if the supporting party is on the losing end and the opposing party has a long enough view to know that it won’t be to their benefit forever – or if they are given something in return (such as DC statehood), I could see it happening. And lastly, if few enough states become competitive, you might get the 3/4 of states you need right there. Or the NPV initiative could work and you’d only need enough states to get to 270 and large states Republican and Democrat have incentives here. All of this is unlikely, but not impossible. (We’re pretty much debating between a 0% likelihood and a 3% likelihood, but what are blogs for if not debating this sort of thing?)

The last thing I wanted to mention is that even if you put gerrymandering aside, district-based voting favors Republicans and will for the foreseeable future. The reason being that rural voters are not as Republican as core urban voters are Democratic. There are only a couple counties in the entire country that vote as Republican as DC does Democratic. I am relatively certain that if you look at individual precincts, you’d see more Republican ones, but wider margins in the Democratic ones (including some with no Republican voters, it turns out). So because of this, even without gerrymandering, there is a stacking of the deck in favor of Republicans. This is something that we should keep in mind: gerrymandering isn’t the only problem here. This is an area where the Republicans can act and the Democrats are simply incapable of responding in kind.

There are a number of ways to skin a deer. Debating between them is a rivalry of concepts of fairness, for which there is no singular, objective answer. But I struggle to come up with a single manner in which what Virginia is doing can be justified. The best we can hope for is that it fails. The next best thing is trying to keep it as contained as possible.

Category: Statehouse

Bloomberg ran a piece about the inadequacies of the Internet in the United States, making the oft-mentioned point that we really don’t get much bang for our buck. She wonders why broadband isn’t more of a government venture, citing some municipal initiatives such as the one in Lafayette, Louisiana:

In 2004, the Lafayette utilities system decided to provide a fiber-to-the-home service. The new network, called LUS Fiber, would give everyone in Lafayette a very fast Internet connection, enabling them to lower their electricity costs by monitoring and adjusting their usage.

Push-back from the local telephone company, BellSouth Corp., and the local cable company, Cox Communications Inc., was immediate. They tried to get laws passed to stop the network, sued the city, even forced the town to hold a referendum on the project — in which the people voted 62 percent in favor. Finally, in February 2007, after five civil lawsuits, the Louisiana Supreme Court voted, 7-0, to allow the network.

From 2007 to mid-2011, people living in Lafayette saved $5.7 million on telecommunications services.

Since Lafayette went down this path, other communities have followed. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a group that advocates for municipal fiber networks, these community-owned networks are generally faster, more reliable and cheaper than those of the private carriers, and provide better customer service.

I have seen one of these municipal networks in action, and I have to say that they are a pretty great deal. Especially when the local utility companies are charging too much or dragging their feet on upgrading service. More generally, there is a strong argument to be made that utilities that lend themselves towards natural monopolies, like cable internet, cable TV, and phone service, ought to be government rather than private ventures. I mean, if you’re not going to have actual competition between suppliers, why not cut out the middle man?

Sometimes, it’s because the middle man has something to offer. Out here, broadband began as a co-op but eventually was sold on the private model in large part because the cable company had access to more and better resources for expansion and upgrading. The co-op more or less abandoned the city right about the time I was arriving, though they still cover the outlying part of the county. However you look at it, there’s no good reason that a private company shouldn’t have to prove itself to the people.

There were other aspects of the article I was less keen about, however. Where I felt like the article was misleading.

It’s true that in the past private industry had little interest in covering rural America and needed the pitchfork of the government to do so. Rural America and small towns owe a debt of gratitude to the FDR and the federal government in that regard. And, as is the case in Callie, a lot of it they had to do themselves because they were (and in some places still are) below the radar of corporate America. However, it has to be said that (as far as I can tell) this is a lot less true than it used to be. Proclamations that but for the government, national communications and entertainment companies would tell small towns and rural places to go to hell no longer seems to be true except for a relatively small sliver of what we would consider to be rural.

My current town, Callie, population 3,000 with nary another town of remotely comparable size (or larger) for 50 miles in any direction, has 3G from Verizon and (non-LTE) 4G from AT&T. Verizon’s LTE network extends to cover almost 90% of the country, which includes a lot of small towns. Places such as Butte, Montana, and Twin Falls, Idaho, are covered. You see something similar with local channels in satellite. Back when I used to work for a satellite carrier, they had all but said that there were some DMA’s that they would never bother to cover. Now, Dish Network covers everybody and DirecTV covers almost everybody. Twin Falls and Butte both have their local channels broadcast by satellite. And they aren’t actually charged any more than the big cities are for the privilege (a hat tip to arguments about the USPS being a giveaway to rural America because letters to the middle of nowhere cost the same as letters between population centers). There is, in fact, money to be made in rural America and small towns, and the same subsidies that the government has actually apply to private industry as well (ie Dish Network makes more per subscriber in Seattle than Twin Falls because of per-capita usage they get out of resources expended).l

Another issue I had with the article was any comparison whatsoever between the United States and South Korea and the like. You simply cannot compare the two in any meaningful sense. Not with Internet, and not with cell phone coverage. The US faces enormous challenges that smaller and more urban nations do not. The degree to which we are spread out makes coverage more difficult. This applies to rural areas, but also suburbs (and the fact that our urban cores themselves are not remarkably dense, in most places). This is one of the downsides to American settlement patterns, but it’s not going away any time soon. So coverage of such things is going to be weaker, and more expensive.

Which brings us, of course, to questions of how and where the federal government should promote service. I’ve written on this before. Now, as a rural-liver, I wouldn’t mind it one little bit if the federal government decided to lay broadband out here. I’d use it and happily so. The only downsides are the extent to which the same people who would champion a national broadband policy will turn around and complain about “rural subsidies” and, more substantively, I don’t think it’s actually the best allocation of resources.

While we do need to make sure that everybody has access to high speed Internet of one sort of another (I’m a commie that way, I suppose), I believe it only makes sense to approach each areas needs individually. Callie doesn’t need fiber. A lot of places don’t. As satellite internet gets better and more affordable, this may well be a problem that takes care of itself. So long as we keep expectations reasonable.

Which is why, ultimately, I think this should be mostly a local issue. More cities should either do what Lafayette has done or use the threat of doing so to leverage a equipment upgrades by the local suppliers. The primary role I see in the federal government is to use fiber for redevelopment zones. Take cities that have capacity outstripping their population or that are simply struggling to keep their population numbers stable, and start offering it to those areas. Places like Detroit or Redstone. That could be helpful in enticing employers to utilize these services and attract and retain local talent. But beyond that, different places are going to have different needs. The alternative starts to look like this.

Category: Market, Server Room

A long while back an acquaintance gave me a VHS tape (giving you an idea of precisely how long back we’re talking) of a movie called Terminal Impact. It was being rotated out of the selection at the movie rental place that he worked. The movie was pretty lame. It was about “college students” (that looked 40) being turned into deadly cyborgs. Not coincidentally, there was a blockbuster film called Terminal Velocity starring Charlie Sheen that came out at the same time. They had a similar name and the font of the title was similar, but that’s where the similarities ended. It was pretty clear that the entire purpose of the movie’s title was to get rentals from people who were confused. (Indeed, the movie was created with another title and they changed it to match.)

Erik Kain wrote about a resurgence of “mockbusters” a while ago. I was talking to a friend who was saying that somebody should do something about this.

I really, really hope that nobody does. I hope that, if Disney and others start flinging lawsuits, that they lose them. Terminal Impact may have been a waste of 90 minutes of my life, and would have been a waste of a couple dollars if I had actually paid for it, but the last thing I want is for courts to have to have to wade through distinctions of impact of a terminal nature versus velocity of a terminal nature. My concern is that it opens the doors to the entertainment variant of software patents.

It wouldn’t bother me if Hollywood Pictures (the makers of Terminal Velocity) forced Nu Image Films (the makers of Terminal Impact) to go with the movie’s original title (Cyborg Cop III). However, two movies with redhead leads with the movie “Brave” in the title strikes me as more problematic. What if it’s a girl with brown hair? What if it’s a year later? Three years later? The opportunities for trademark trolling seem evident, to me. And it would almost certainly apply in only a single direction where Pixar can determine a small studio’s packaging while a small studio would have a much harder time doing the opposite.

So, in the end, we are responsible for knowing precisely which movie it is that we want to see. If somebody is taking advantage of our failure to do so, I can live with that.

Category: Theater

Though most of my substitute teaching was at the grade school level and comparatively little at the high school level, when I did get high school it was often towards the end of the year for a variety of reasons. As such, I got a glimpse into what many of the Redstone students’ post-secondary plans were. A number of them were planning to go to college. Others, however, were planning to go to eastern Montana and North Dakota. There’s jobs in them there plains. The New York Times recently published an article about it:

Less than a year after proms and homecoming games, teenagers like Mr. Sivertson now wake at 4 a.m. to make the three-hour trek to remote oil rigs. They fish busted machinery out of two-mile-deep hydraulic fracturing wells and repair safety devices that keep the wells from rupturing, often working alongside men old enough to be their fathers. Some live at home; others drive back on weekends to eat their mothers’ food, do loads of laundry and go to high school basketball games, still straddling the blurred border between childhood and adulthood.

Just as gold rushes and silver booms once brought opera houses and armies of prospectors to rugged corners of the West, today’s headlong race for oil and gas is reshaping staid communities in the northern Plains, bringing once untold floods of cash and job prospects, but also deep anxieties about crime, growth and a future newly vulnerable to cycles of boom and bust.

Even gas stations are enticing students away from college. Katorina Pippenger, a high school senior in the tiny town of Bainville, Mont., said she makes $24 an hour as a cashier in nearby Williston, N.D., the epicenter of the boom. Her plan is to work for a few years after she graduates this spring, save up and flee. She likes the look of Denver. “I just want to make money and get out,” she said.

Some people have picked up a sense of concern from the NYT articles, though I think it’s a fairly good write-up without too much coloring one way or the other. (Or, at least, I’d give them the benefit of the doubt if this weren’t an installment of a series of articles poo-pooing the oil boomtowns.)

For those expressing concern, I think this is actually a generally quite positive development. In a time where we are worried about a generation of graduates becoming unemployable, these kids are going to get jobs, work experience, and skills. Might it be better in the long term if they went to college? Well, that depends in good part on who “they” are along with a few other things. To the extent that college degrees are in good part about getting people in front of the employment line, then it might be good for any individual one of them to go to college, but as a group it would be an example of running in place. Those that think that college should be the norm are likely going to disagree.

I honestly don’t know what the appropriate number of kids going to college is. Back when I was living in Deseret, I knew a number of people that I felt should have gone to college but had roadblocks that prevented them from trying. Back when I was in college, I knew a number of people that really shouldn’t have been there. Whether the ideal number is somewhere above or below the number of kids currently attending, I consider it a necessity to have a path for those that really aren’t college material. I think it’s fantastic that they have this sort of opportunity.

And for those that are going to college? More opportunities still (well, in resource exploitation more generally), at least for the right kind of college student. Graduates of the South Dakota School of Mines are outearning graduates of Harvard. Which touches back a little bit on something that doesn’t get enough press: white collar jobs in blue collar fields. One of the reasons that mining engineers are able to demand such a mint is that most people don’t think they are going to college to work in such a field. The same applies to industrial production. Writes The New Republic:

The country’s business schools tended to reflect and reinforce these trends. By the late 1970s, top business schools began admitting much higher-caliber students than they had in previous decades. This might seem like a good thing. The problem is that these students tended to be overachiever types motivated primarily by salary rather than some lifelong ambition to run a steel mill. And there was a lot more money to be made in finance than manufacturing. A recent paper by economists Thomas Philippon and Ariell Reshef shows that compensation in the finance sector began a sharp, upward trajectory around 1980.

The business schools had their own incentives to channel students into high-paying fields like finance, thanks to the rising importance of school rankings, which heavily weighted starting salaries. The career offices at places like Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago institutionalized the process—for example, by making it easier for Wall Street outfits and consulting firms to recruit on campus. A recent Harvard Business School case study about General Electric shows that the company had so much trouble competing for MBAs that it decided to woo top graduates from non-elite schools rather than settle for elite-school graduates in the bottom half or bottom quarter of their classes.

No surprise then that, over time, the faculty and curriculum at the Harvards and Stanfords of the world began to evolve. “If you look at the distribution of faculty at leading business schools,” says Khurana, “they’re mostly in finance. … Business schools are responsive to changes in the external environment.” Which meant that, even if a student aspired to become a top operations man (or woman) at a big industrial company, the infrastructure to teach him didn’t really exist.

I think this mentality extends beyond “top business schools” and some degree down the chain. My own school and the college within it was more vocational in nature. But I did minor in industrial supervision and my first job out of college was being the IT guy at a fabrication plant (in the industry of resource exploitation, actually). How I got into it was entirely an accident. Of course, there are a number of engineers who specifically go into this sort of thing (and that’s responsible for at least some of the South Dakota Mines statistic). But comparatively little on the business side. My college had a major that was, at the time, commanding really good salaries even for the 90’s. But who was going to go into something that included the word “industrial” in it? They’ve since changed the major’s name in part to reduce the stigma. That such a stigma exists, of course, is interesting in itself.

Category: Office, School

Dylan Love admits that he was wrong to hate ebooks and that they’re pretty awesome. This came a month after explaining why he hates them.

I have to admit that I have been coming around on them, DRM and all. I bought Clancy a Kindle last Christmas. She never really used it and when somebody stepped on it and broke it, I considered junking the idea until Clancy said she was really ready to give it a go. So we got another one and since Lain was born, she’s been using it a lot. Kindles, as it turns out, are much better for one-handed reading.

I still consider the DRM to be problematic. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why it’s there. But it makes me much more price-conscious than I otherwise would be. The DRM that comes with the books makes it so that I never feel like I am buying anything and adjusting my price-point accordingly. I am typically uncomfortable spending more than $5 on an ebook, while I will gladly spend twice that for a book that I own.

In a way, this is highly illogical. It means that I mostly get inexpensive books that haven’t gone through all of the big publisher filter. So often I don’t know what I’m going to get. I forgo books I know I’ll enjoy in favor of risks. I am about a third a way through a book that is truly dreadful. Unlike a bad song or a bad TV show, that is a considerable time investment that I could have saved for under $5.

And yet, I don’t plan to change any time soon. For $10 or more, I want something I can freely loan out. Considering how much more generous the economics of ebooks are compared to print-publishing, the few times I have spent more than $5 I would have felt ripped off if they hadn’t been gift purchases for Clancy. This way, even if I bite the bullet on a bad novel, I am at least supporting authors and small publishers that are pricing these books how I think they should be priced.

Perhaps the greatest thing about going through Amazon, though, is the synchronization between devices. It’s really nice to be able to switch between my tablet, an ereader, and my smartphone. With baby in hand, I sometimes have to go with whatever is nearby. It’s great being able to pick up where I left off. I collected a bunch of free books from the Gutenberg Project and other sources, but since Lain was born have found them to be less than useful. So I end up picking up a free copy of the same text from Amazon itself.

Last year, my father bought an “ereader” that was aligned with B&N. It was technically a tablet, but the makers (Pandigital) did everything they could to hobble the device to the point that all you could really do is read books, surf the web, and maybe listen to music. When I got home, I tried to set him up with the Amazon appstore, but it was locked down. There is a way to circumvent that, but when I asked Dad if he wanted me to try even though it could result in a disabling of the device (or more likely, my having to take it back home to Arapaho and experiment with it), he figured one in the hand was two in the bush.

Category: Theater

A lot of people don’t realize that the Catholic Church has a back door for married priests. My scumbag former pastor was fired from the Episcopal Church and is now a married pastor in the Catholic Church.

EDK points out that we probably wouldn’t even see a doomsday asteroid until it’s too late.

Apps are coming to cars and Ford and GM are looking for developers. I’m a bit at a loss as to why Android isn’t there yet. I have an idea of why Google wouldn’t want to do it, but somebody should. There’s no reason for this to be on a separate platform.

If you want to learn Android programming, the Linux Foundation wants to help. Meanwhile, Ubuntu is planning to release their own OS. Kinda neat, I guess, but also kind of redundant.

One of these days, when they have it running and I’m ready, I am going to try one of these online-certificate courses.

As the United States turns to natural gas, Europe is turning back to coal.

I love stories wherein real life intersects with our video game life. If you ever find some good ones, feel free to send them my way in an email or OT comment. I have a potential creative pursuit that involves this sort of thing (short version: a detective in a place wherein the world revolves around the virtual and most crimes that are committed occur because of something happening in a game.)

I have mixed feelings on the way that Samsung is (along with Amazon) running away with the Android tablet market. The good news is that, with it being Android, they have to keep putting out a good product. Or, at least, Samsung does.

Slate on global fertility decline.

Dan Slater wonders if online romance is threatening monogamy. I think, as with school and college, choice paralysis is a potential issue. But I think this piece is overwrought. Amanda Marcotte and Alexis Madrigal have stronger words.

The potentially regressive effects of technocraticism.

How can Atlantic Cities write a not-brief piece on the decline of the shopping mall without mentioning Walmart? Because it doesn’t fit with their narrative? Because it didn’t occur to them? Regardless of that oversight, it’s a worthwhile piece.

Category: Newsroom

Every now and again, I run through the SNES version of Legend of Zelda (A Link to The Past). There’s one thing that kind of bothers me about it. I have some moral reservations about my service to the King:

Most of the town seems to live in relative poverty. Meanwhile, the castle is very large luxurious and the King seems to have an outsized army considering that there is not, to my knowledge, a neighboring kingdom that poses an existential threat. In the opening, the city is portrayed as a place of peace… and a lot of soldiers. Presumably, in order to pay for all of this he would need a significant tax-base. That means that Hyrule either has great mineral wealth, which the royal family is not sharing with its townspeople, or the people themselves are producing wealth and the King is taking an outsized portion of that. Otherwise, we’re looking at conscription and slavery (for the building of the palace and the armor/weaponry). It’s all really quite disturbing that I am supposed to be working with/for the leaders or such a government.

Granted, when the alternative is Ganon, then a tyrant is better than a nihilist. But the sequel to this game should not have been Ocinara of Time, but rather Revolution Against The King.

Category: Theater