Monthly Archives: May 2014

Yahoo has taken to sending me a lot of emails I didn’t ask for. They have an unsubscribe option, but I have to unsubscribe to each category of mail they send me separately. So they send me something for Sports, I unsubscribe, and ten days later I am no longer receiving “digests” from Yahoo sports. Then I start getting them from Yahoo Fashion, and the process repeats itself. Now they apparently have a new digest to tell me about the features of their mobile email app.

I’m pretty sure they’re just making categories up at this point. I subscribe to this one, and there will soon be a digest for Yahoo digests for their iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone apps separately. Heck, they’ll probably create an app for Tizen just so that they can send me ten days worth of digests for it.

(The obvious solution to this is that I am going to have to work harder on filtering.)

Category: Market

gotchaThe Press-Enterprise looks at the future commuting.

Is the oil in North Dakota leading to a cultural blooming?

Will the future of nuclear energy revolve around tiny power plants?

Popular Mechanics looks at myths surrounding natural gas drilling. As is often the case with these sorts of articles, they use the word “myth” liberally. Interesting stuff all the same.

The Dutch approach to disaster management may be something we can learn from.

Energy estimates are often wildly wrong. The most high-profile example in recent years has been the unforeseen fracking boom. It works the other way, though, with far less recoverables in California than previously estimated.

According to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, the housing market is at risk because people down the food chain can’t afford them.

Nobody does listicles like Cracked, and their piece on things people who grew up in Communist regimes know is no exception. Also, how VHS tapes fought communism. And Dr. Zhivago!

Michael Brendan Dougherty makes the conservative case against capitalism. John Paul Rollert writes about how there was a time before pursuit of money became an admirable trait.

Google cars? Try Google Golf Carts. Even so, Edward Niedermeyer says it’s a big deal.

What do they do with the clothes that are produced at the end of (or too late in) their fashion cycle?

James Fallows says there is a new industrial belt in the American South.

Remember The Wonder Years? It’s coming to DVD. Here’s pictures of what the cast looks like now. Most of them really kind of fell off after the show. Fred Savage went behind the camera. The brother got caught up in the HealthSouth tornado. The sister was pretty fantastic in her run as Vincent D’Onofrio’s nemesis on Criminal Intent.

Girl Meets World premiers next month.

From Wikipedia:

277 is the 59th prime number, and is a regular prime.[1] It is the smallest prime p such that the sum of the inverses of the primes up to p is greater than two.[2] Since 59 is itself prime, 277 is a super-prime.[3] 59 is also a super-prime (it is the 17th prime), as is 17 (the 7th prime).

Category: Newsroom

I had to change a number of passwords thanks to the Big eBay Hack (and may have to change them again).

One thing I found really interesting, though, is a back and forth between Charles Hill and Jack Baruth about eBay. Here’s Jack:

It’s fair to say that I am deeply ambivalent about eBay: it’s raised the price of old books into the stratosphere while simultaneously adding a $250 transaction fee to most vintage guitar sales. On the other hand, it’s enabled me to find and purchase items that I’d have never found otherwise. You have to take the good with the bad; yes, you can now actually find a brand-new Atari 1200XL, but it will cost you.

Charles cops to raising the prices of used books.

I find this interesting because of the effect it has had on comic books. While there has been a lot going on in the world of comic books since eBay got started, I am convinced that eBay has shredded the price of older comic books. Most specifically, the unfamous ones. It used to be that Mile High Comics would sell you a batch of comics for twenty-five cents a piece, but it was a random lot. Now you can get whole runs of series for around that price if it’s a relatively unremarkable series or at least under a dollar for some good old stuff. Even newer stuff is relatively affordable.

Again, a lot of this has to do with the state of the industry, but not all of it. A lot of it instead has to do with the market being flooded with people with old comic books they’re looking to get rid of. You used to have to find a seller who had old issues of Blue Beetle as you tried to piece together your collection. Now you have some collector who wants to reclaim his garage.

I find it interesting that this hasn’t happened with old books. Or maybe it’s that Jack is looking for classics. I would not be surprised if highly desirable comic book prices fell only in accordance with the shape of the industry, or may have fallen less so due to a concentration of interested buyers.

Category: Server Room

CatCookSomething I did not know: UPS trucks don’t turn left.

North Dakota’s economy is sailing along, and not just the mineral-rich western part.

North Dakota finds itself dealing with radioactive waste.

Slate has an article about Germany’s Coal Pits and the nation’s difficulty in kicking its coal habit.

James Schneider revisits the Ehrlich wager (involving overpopulation). I’ve been listening to Isaac Asimov lately. One of the more interesting bits from Caves of Metal was the criticism of Malthusianism accompanied by a story of a world collapsing under the weight of eight billion people.

Sixty pictures that are reported to “perfectly capture the human spirit.” I don’t know about that last part, but there are some really great pictures in there.

Robinson Meyer explains how maps go viral.

One way to subsidize the arts, I guess: “Buy” them in lieu of taxes.

The eternal question of whether we seek out partners like ourselves or complimentary personalities has been answered, according to 538.

The Census Bureau has a good report on adoption in America (PDF). I’m honestly a bit surprised that adoption remains as common as it does, and the regional variations (map) are fascinating.

Aircraft carriers are apparently obsolete, but we’re not quite ready to let them go.

Category: Newsroom

Burt Likko pointed me to a really interesting article on rotisserie chickens and why they’re so relatively inexpensive:

Though supermarkets are loath to admit as much, likely for fear of turning off the squeamish, the former CEO of Trader Joe’s cheerfully confirmed in a recent interview that meat and produce are recycled into prepared foods. And the vendor of one of the leading commercial rotisserie ovens offers, as a complement to its wares, “culinary support” that, among other things, aims to “develop programs to minimize food shrinkage and waste” and “improve production planning to optimize the amount of fresh food that is available during both peak and down times.”

Rotisserie chickens aren’t even the end of the line. When unsold, fresh meats, fruits and veggies that have passed their sell-by points can be “cooked up for in-store deli and salad counters before they spoil,” per no less a source than a consultant to the supermarket industry.

We’ve become big fans. I bring home one more than half of the time I go to Walmart, in part because theirs are better than the other place I shop at. It provides for at least a couple of meals, just you can tear it up and put it in other things to add a little more meat. My preferred brands of turkey chili, for example, are pretty light on the meat. Also, soup. You can put some in beans and make a pretty good little contraption.

Even better than the rotisserie chicken is the rotisserie turkey breast. That’s straight meat with a whole lot of different things you can do with it. In addition to breaking my mouth and bowels, my recent illness broke my heart. I had just purchased a whole lot of turkey breast before I got sick. But I couldn’t eat it (or anything). I was afraid that it would go bad.

My favorite thing to do with the turkey is to cut it in slices and make the perfect sandwich. The perfect sandwich, to my mind, is a turkey, cheddar, and mayo sandwich on white bread. I have no idea why I like it so much, but it’s the perfect combination of everything. The tastes just bounce off one another in yummy goodness. And I’m not much of a sandwich person. It was one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, even when I moved on from my distaste of eating anything, I still couldn’t eat mayo. Which meant that I had to do something else with the turkey. Clancy went shopping and got some southwestern mustard, which is a substitute. But instead of yummy perfection, it tasted like… turkey, cheddar, bread, and southwestern mustard. The magic was gone.

Category: Kitchen

There is apparently a trend among posh restaurants to google customers with reservations:

The maitre d’ in question, Justin Roller, says he tries to ascertain things like whether a couple is coming to the restaurant for an anniversary, and if so, which anniversary that is. If it’s a birthday, for instance, he wants to wish them “Happy Birthday” when they arrive. He’ll scan for photos of the guests in chef’s whites or posed with wine glasses, which suggest they might be chefs or sommeliers themselves.

It goes deeper: if a particular guest appears to hail from Montana, Roller will try to pair up the table with a server who is from Montana. “Same goes for guests who own jazz clubs, who can be paired with a sommelier that happens to be into jazz,” writes Grub Street.

The natural response to this ranges from horror at the invasion of privacy to thinking it’s awfully cool. I actually fall into the latter camp.

When the government eavesdropping and invasions of privacy recently came to light, a lot of people suggested that we really have no standing to complain given how we freely we let private companies have and keep this information. My response is that the private companies want to use it in order to find out what I want and sell it to me, while the government has different things in mind.

Every now and again I will see arguments about how well Facebook and Google allegedly know me with the implication that I should be freaked out. Facebook, after all, knows if you’re in a relationship with someone or not perhaps before even you do.

I would be worried about it quite a bit more if the advertising that Facebook and Google pitch in my direction weren’t so rudimentary. I mean, when I look up laptops it’ll try to pitch me laptops. But sometimes it is famously, silly wrong. Several months ago Facebook was convinced that I was in the market for divorce attorneys.

Now, once they start becoming more accurate, like the restaurants who google, perhaps there will be more reason to be concerned. If it weren’t for the fact that once they’re that good, they will be more helpful than ever.

Category: Server Room


Reportedly, new labor rules in France require workers to unplug from work when they go home.

Emma Green writes about office speak, and how a culture of efficiency can embrace inefficiency.

Breaking news: Kids think school is boring.

Scott Sumner looks at inequality among doctors, at least as measured by the recently released Medicare payments. One of the more sociologically interesting aspects of it is the gender gap.

According to this report (PDF), going to medical school may have been a bad move for Clancy and other female doctors. That’s kind of depressing.

Relatedly, American mothers would prefer to work part-time if they could, demonstrating the ongoing tension between flexible scheduling and the gender gap.

A man was found guilty of breaking an ecigarette law that doesn’t exist.

Banning chocolate milk from cafeterias resulted in less milk consumption, which has some nutrition folks concerned.

Silicon Valley startup Ploom is looking at blurring the distinctions between cigarettes, ecigarettes, and pot. This makes me uncomfortable.

According to Popular Mechanics, you’d need 10,000 people to colonize another planet.

Which would be easier to colonize, Mars or Venus?

Category: Newsroom

Texas is notoriously stingy with its education spending, usually falling somewhere in the bottom of per-pupil spending. But not some districts and not when it comes to some things. Allen, Texas, a wealthy suburb of Dallas, famously spent $60 million on a high school football stadium that’s larger than some college ones. What does $60,000,000 buy you? Not much, apparently:

Allen ISD officials said Monday that design flaws appear to have contributed to problems with cracking of concrete at the district’s new $60 million stadium, prompting them to close the stadium for the next football season.

Previously, PBK Architects, which designed the stadium, said the problems in the concourse level were probably caused by shrinkage in the concrete.

But an analysis commissioned by the district shows engineers have found design deficiencies at the concourse level, according to documents released to The Dallas Morning News.

Partial findings by Nelson Forensics indicate that some support structures were not designed in a way that would hold the weight anticipated on that level of the stadium.

The Allen Eagles are the state champions in their division.

Lest we think that this is about Texas and their love of football, the same school district is spending almost $40,000,000 on a bus barn.

Category: School

Actor Michael Jace apparently killed his wife:

Michael Jace, who played a Los Angeles cop in TV’s “The Shield,” has been arrested in the fatal shooting of his wife, police said Tuesday.

Police found April Jace, 40, shot to death in her south Los Angeles home Monday night, Los Angeles Police Det. Lyman Doster said.

Michael Jace, 51, called 911 to report that his wife had been shot, Det. Dean Vinluan said, adding that he “was on the phone with the operator.” Neighbors who heard gunshots also called 911, he said.

Fans of The Shield will remember him as Julien Lowe, initially a beat cop who later moved on to become a member of Vic Mackey’s Strike Team. Lowe’s primary angle was that he was deeply religious and struggling with homosexuality. In the commentary, Jace departed from the other actors in a moderate endorsement of “pray the gay away” (which the Lowe character underwent, with at least temporary sorta-success) which sort of left Michael Chiklis (who played Mackey) trying to avoid saying “Wait. What?”

In any event, it wasn’t a particularly prominent part in the ensemble cast. If I were to write a list starting with the most prominent characters on the show, he’d make near the bottom of the top ten. Which actually make this tidbit kind of surprising:

Jace appeared to be suffering severe financial strain in recent years, according to court documents obtained by CNN. The actor filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in March 2011, citing $500,000 in debts and an annual income of around $80,000 from residuals from his TV and film work, the documents said.

Most of that had to come from The Shield, which is the most successful thing he’s ever been a part of. Which is pretty remarkable, considering that it was a cable show on which his part was not very prominent. That’s a nice chunk of annual change.

Category: Theater


High school students are getting a lot of computer instruction, but not much computer science instruction.

In education, classroom time may not matter.

Workplace hierarchies are kind of important, contrary to the belief of some.

Nikil Saval writes about the importance of Office Space. It is unfortunate that a lot of the affection for the movie is reduced to one-liners, as it’s truly a movie of the age.

Natalie Dicou looks at the movement to ordain women in the LDS Chuch.

Bob Somerby weighs in on equal pay, looking at the 77% figure and adjustments for relevant factors.

With the internationalization of space travel, diplomacy can be tough.

Researchers whose work was cited to justify the EU’s more onerous regulation of ecigarettes say that they have been misinterpreted.

Reddit has become a location where men can more safely talk about girl-on-guy rape. Does anyone remember that episode of Picket Fences? It was pretty brilliant.

According to studies, circumcision’s benefits outweigh the risks. We don’t plan to circumcise #2 if it’s a son, though I’m open to the evidence.

New Jersey’s Attorney General’s office has unionized! Under the banner of… the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. (Via CGHill)

Category: Newsroom