Monthly Archives: December 2014


It’s amazing how well-made a lot of consumer electronics have become. How good they’ve always been, for example.

Twenty years or so ago, we had a television. It was an okay television at the time, or at least for most of its life. No one expected high-falutin’ things called remote controls. Or, at least, our family didn’t. Dad got it in his mind, however, that he wanted one of those “big screen televisions.” They were coming as large as 50″! The problem was the existing television. It just kept soldiering on. And on and on and on. We kept waiting for it to die. And it just wouldn’t.

Finally, Mom decided it was just time to get a new one. So she did. The TV at the time got tossed back to the computer room. We didn’t need one there, but it was a perfectly fine television and it was not in the Truman family ethos to junk (or give away or sell for a paltry sum) a perfectly good television. No matter how much its continued functionality aggravated us.

This turned out to be a good thing, because the following summer we got the Foreign Exchange Student from hell. A guy who was seventeen and too immature for a twelve year old girl he was… interested in. We didn’t even know about the trolling-the-swimming-pool-for-girls-younger-than-twelve thing he was probably up to. We did know very quickly that we didn’t like being around him. We resisted this sentiment for as long as we could, because we were hosts, but one by one we started huddling more and more in the computer room, around the old television that (thank god!) wouldn’t die.

Some time later, my roommate Karl and I purchased a TV set for our apartment. It was good, but not great. When I moved to Deseret to be with my now-wife, it didn’t fit in the Escort. I ended up taking a TV bequeathed to me by my grandmother. It was very functional, but not only did it not have a remote, it didn’t have a dial. There were thirteen buttons on the front and you had to program them with a screwdriver. Not only was there no RCA cable imput, but there was no coaxial cable either (the solution there, too, involved a screwdriver). That lasted the duration in Deseret, but by the time we moved down to Estacado, I wanted something more durable, like the TV I purchased with Karl. If only grandmother’s TV would die.

My brother ended my dilemma by taking it off my hands. I secretly suspect he put it out on a farm where it could run and play with other TV sets. Whatever the case, I never saw it again. Don’t ask, don’t tell. So I got the Karl TV, which my brother brought on a road trip out when he visited for a college football game.

I still have the Karl TV (purchased in 2002), and it still works almost perfectly. This is very aggravating because I’m ready to go straight LCD. I’m actually wanting a new nice Samsung television and putting the Vizio downstairs. But most of my viewing is through a computer, and it’s hard to manage an old CRT television set through a VGA slot. I have an adapter, but it works imperfectly and it’s hard to read text on the screen. But disappointingly, it soldiers on very admirably. You can’t give away CRT’s these days. The dump wants $10 just to dispose of it. Which I will be glad to pay just as soon as it dies.

Please, TV… die.

Category: Theater

CivilWarPhotoThe case against coffee, in 1888.

Eerily, babies may seem to take on traits of the mother’s previous lover. Daily Buchanan says that this is not such a bad thing, though I suspect a lot of men will disagree.

Sometimes seat-pants wisdom beats out fancy Big Data algorithms.

Ariel Williams lays out what a real alien invasion might look like: disease and internal collapse.

Laura Smith was a nice boss, and regrets it.

Daniel McCarthy argues that secession is not a principle of liberty. Ultimately, it’s choosing one community over another community, and so it depends on the communities involved. There is an argument that there is greater liberty involved in a smaller community since you have a larger voice, but smaller communities also tend to have broader consensuses that allow for greater community (instead of individual) control.

Before Batman 3 became Batman forever, the groundwork had been laid for a third Tim Burton Batman. Den of Geek explains why it never happened.

Wild horses are feared to be gobbling up the wide open west.

Internet speeds in the US are improving, but according to Keunwoo Lee, the ISP’s deserve little credit.

Politics is and ever was the mind-killer.

Science and research are devoted to finding the better condom.

More than 200,000 would-be astronauts have applied to go on a one-way trip to Mars.

Do you single-space or double-space after periods? If the latter, it may be dating you on your resume. I actually grew up right on the cusp of the transition. I single-space.

Kotaku looks at how anime art has changed.

Mallory Ortberg writes of the glorious fashion of Ayn Rand.

My favorite description of The Breakfast Club is that it’s about a bunch of stereotypes complaining about being stereotyped. Anyway, Derek Thompson writes about cliques, wondering why they vary from school to school.

Matthew Lynch argues that bilingual education should be mandatory.

Category: Newsroom

SantaLineupThe Washington Post looks at happy and unhappy cities. It’s quite astonishing that Louisiana has the five happiest cities, though I’m not actually surprised at how happy the South in general is, and less surprising how many of them are in the Rust Belt (though apparently their unhappiness predates their decline).

Brad Templeton writes about how autocars – specifically a short, cheap variety – have the capacity to revolutionize the urban landscape. And at some point, Ubering becomes cheaper than car ownership.

Scott Alexander explains how black and white togas explain political alignment, and the limits of tolerance.

In Japan, old people are in the way of young people getting good jobs.

Stephanie Gruner Buckley looks at fertility rates across Europe.

Causality is murky, but marrying people your age correlates well with staying married.

I previously linkied about Detroit’s economic problems juxtaposed to its wonderful art collection. Here’s an update.

Commute times in the United States compare favorably to those abroad.

In 1989, the Societ Union was textbook proof of how command economies could thrive.

Forest Gump was kind of a screwed up movie.

On the other hand, downtown Los Angeles is responsible for 20% of housing units built, though Let’s Go LA says that this is a bad thing.

No surprise that suburbanites commute by car more frequently than city folk, but across demographics, Americans overwhelmingly drive to work.

Category: Newsroom


Don’t expect Russian oligarchs to come to Russia’s aid, because according to Masha Gessen, there aren’t any.

Falling oil prices are leading to a plunge in consumer prices.

Charles Hill introduces readers to Batman, Turkey.

The Spanish government demanded that Google pay news services for their linkage and excerpts. Google News left, and now Spanish newspapers want to revise the policy.

Israel gets a lot of criticism for searching pregnant Palenstinian women, but they have a reason to do so.

This is one free speech issue on which I side with the government. Of California, no less! I have no opinions on a law requiring porn actors to wear condoms, but it seems to me that you can prohibit things in the making of art, provided a rationale, even if you shouldn’t be able to prohibit the appearance of such things. Having someone pretend to be sixteen while having sex on camera versus putting an actual sixteen year old in porn.

A couple of sales later, a Texas plumber’s Ford F-250 pickup ended up fighting in a war in Syria. {Fun comments here}

Before our movie studios started nixing anything with North Korea as the bad guys, it made North Korea the villain to avoid antagonizing the Chinese.

Single-payer in Vermont is dead. Avik Roy and Sarah Kliff. Vermont was actually a poor test case. I’d like to see it tried somewhere. I hope someone in California campaigns on it.

A sign of the times: When a German MP who is a critic of Russia dies of a heart attack, they feel the need to perform an autopsy. (Nothing untoward was discovered.)

Amit Singh looks at the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and asks what about Hawaii? I find the comparison lacking, but do believe that of all our various states, Hawaii should get a more full hearing.

Vulture wonders how North Korean films portray Americans.

Can a wife with dementia consent to sex with her husband?

How a police cruiser dashboard camera saved a man from prison and put some cops in hot water.

Don’t blame PJ O’Rourke. They made him write about Lena Dunham.

As Shinzo Abe sails to re-election despite a faltering economy, where are the other parties? Incidentally, I feel pretty vindicated in my comments on this OTB thread regarding the ability of parliamentary systems in allowing prime ministers to call snap elections.

Category: Newsroom

The Washington Post recently wrote about the woes of Dulles International Airport:

A recent study found that Dulles generated more than $1.2 billion in tax revenue and nearly $10 billion in labor income. More than 19,000 people work at Dulles, but nearly 250,000 jobs are tied to the airport, according to the study, commissioned by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

“The shift to National — it’s a serious problem for the financial viability of Dulles,” said Jonathan Gifford, director of the Center for Transportation Public-Private Partnership Policy at George Mason University.

The MWAA needs both airports to succeed for its bottom line, but in its version of a perfect world, Dulles would be booming. Instead, the explosive growth at National is creating headaches for the authority. From a steep rise in noise complaints from nearby Arlington County residents to concourses so crowded that passengers say they feel like sardines, authority officials are scrambling to find more space at a facility that has little to spare.

We’re significantly closer to Dulles than we are to Reagan National (DCA) or Baltimore-Washington (BWI). When we moved here, we figured that it would mostly be Dulles that we would fly out of, but I think we’ve only been there once. We’ve used BWI twice, and DCA four or five times. Reagan is a notably small airport, the smallest major airport I’ve used. I’ve ever flown in and out of. Which is actually kind of convenient, in some respects, because we invariably end up at whatever gate is farthest down the way. But it would be more convenient to cut a half-hour off our drive and avoid DC entirely, which would be the case with Dulles. I would think with the growth of NoVA and the suburbs of DC extending further and further out that there would be more use for an airport that wasn’t located right in the thick of things, and that Dulles wouldn’t need the congressional meddling it’s apparently relied on.

But that’s apparently not the case.

Meanwhile, WaPo asks what to call the airport that isn’t Dulles or BWI. It’s a contentious issue, as Ronald Reagan is Ronald Reagan, some question the decision to name the airport after him, and a lot of liberals and air traffic controllers refuse to call it by that name.

We just call it DCA, though apparently we don’t count as “Washington Area” on their survey because we’re not in one of the listed counties. Which itself is strange, because for purposes of this survey the relevant demographic should be those who actually fly out of the airport.

Category: Road

We have historically been on a family bucket data plan of 3gb. Which has been more than enough. I’m around the house all day, which means that I am on WiFi. Since getting on this plan in April, I think we’ve exceeded 2gb only once (to 2.2gb) before last month.

Then Clancy discovered tethering. Which, due to her present work situation*, she has had to make extensive use of.

Last month, she went right up to the 3gb limit. I was going to have to watch it like a hawk this month. Or not, because it became very apparent very quickly that she was not going to stay underneath the cap. Or was she? I was given a glimmer of hope because we got a free courtesy GB. Maybe. The problem was that the meter kept switching between 3gb and 4gb, and I had visions of getting charged an overage every time it bounced from 4 to 3. So before she got to three (just) before, I went ahead and upgraded to the 10gb plan, which was all of $20/mo more. I told Clancy, whom I had been keeping posted on the situation, that we shouldn’t have to worry about data usage anymore.

I was wrong. Early last week she was approaching the 10/11 limit, and I was back to worrying about the inconsistency of our allotment. I thought that 11 might be okay, but 10 clearly wouldn’t. I found myself, yet again, wondering what use a courtesy GB was if I couldn’t actually rely on it.

Once again, though, this was a non-issue as she rocketed past both 10 and 11. I upgraded to 15/16. The cycle ends tomorrow, so it’s unlikely that we will hit that limit. We’re likely to stay at 15 for next month, when her job duties will return to normal. Then we’ll probably return to 10.

Her mother is looking at getting a smartphone for Christmas. I’ve offered to allow them to piggy-back onto our account. Data usage had, after all, never been an issue. Except it temporarily is, and now I’ve got to say that they’re welcome to join our plan so long as it’s a Christmas thing and doesn’t start until January(ish).

* – Due to her current job situation, she is having to deal with Arapaho-levels of paper work. Since it’s on EMR, she needs Internet access. At the nursing home where she is temporarily stationed, the WiFi is lousy. Since coffee isn’t as big a deal out here as it is out west, there are few “third places” for her to go. It tends to be more complicated for her to work here than elsewhere. So she’s been doing her work while tethered in to her phone.

Category: Market

gasstrollerOil prices may be falling, but US oil production remains on the upswing.

Some Native Americans are hoping to end their language.

The Antiplanner makes the case against light rail in Los Angeles.

Arnold Kling explains why breaking up the big banks won’t work.

It ain’t easy being a small country.

We should be on the metric system by now, but we’re not. Seth Stevenson looks at the history of the battle over metrics.

Police in Seattle can’t be bothered to enforce laws against theft even when you can direct them to the phone. I once had over $2000 of stuff stolen from my car in Colosse. The officer was positively annoyed that I called the police. Meanwhile, in Deseret, an officer spent two days initiating an entire investigation for a stolen jacket, getting a subpoena for security camera recordings and everything.

The making of the McRib. As Burt Likko says, since it’s from McDonald’s, so it’s “scripted and PRish, but still interesting.” I personally think it lost some credibility when it had the pigs raising their arms saying “Me next! Me next!”

The US uses less water than it did in 1970! Can we improve on this so that we don’t have (more of) a water crisis?

Minneapolis is micromanaging food sales.

Breaking up isn’t what it used to be.

Physicians are apparently like congressmen. People don’t have a lot of confidence in them, but like their own.

Category: Newsroom


Maybe this time we’ll stay mad at the guy(s) threatening to kill people, instead of redirecting our anger at Uber. Or we’ll just redirected it towards squishy studios and theaters.

After a raft of movie theaters declined to show The Interview, amid threats of violence, Sony has announced that they are pulling the release of the film.

Presumably the film will be released once an investigation determines that no violence is forthcoming.

This has led to a lot of criticism for, essentially, giving in to terrorism. A lot of that criticism is directed at Sony, though I’m not sure how much of it should be. If theaters don’t want to show it, then they’re not going to get the premier that they want. The theaters are themselves the ones who caved. Of course, they themselves would be opening themselves up to enormous lawsuits if they did show the picture and violence did occur. So we can perhaps blame the lawyers, or alternately insurance companies that told the theaters not to do it.

It’s easy to say “Don’t give in to terrorism” when our livelihoods aren’t affected.

But dammit. This is the most irritated I’ve been by a delayed screening since they pushed V for Vendetta away from the pre-ordained November 5th release date. Though I had no particular intention of watching this film upon its release.

And ultimately, it’ll wait I suppose.

As an aside, it’s interesting that this is the movie that is causing issues. It also may put Hollywood in a bit of a pickle. Due to overseas sales, they’re not as eager to cast China as the villain as they used to be. Which is why when they were remaking Red Dawn, they chose North Korea as the invading force instead of the more likely culprit China. Or, for that matter, Russia itself (whom I’ve read actually kind of relish being the bad guys). Then again, maybe they’d invade on the idea that we’re the type of people to cancel a movie premier on the basis of vague threats.

Category: Newsroom, Theater

I’ve made a couple mentions of the past of the tendency of some evangelicals to make their Christianity “a spectator sport.” This parody video encapsulates that perfectly:

I actually hadn’t particularly seen it as a southern thing, but the longer and further I’ve been from the south, the more it does appear to be. #NotAllSoutherners of course, but even controlling for degree-of-evangelicalism, it seems to be the case.

LiveWay bookstore is apparently keeping a sense of humor about the video:


Category: Theater

I told David Alexander last week that I would try to get a picture of my driveway to explain why we kind of have trepidation about it. And so I did.

The first picture is actually of Ford Lane, where we live. Though five of us have Ford Lane addresses, only three of us have to drive any distance on Ford Lane, and we have the steepest incline. We’re the house way down at the end, behind and to the left of the red/brown house visible on the right:


The next one is actually “our driveway” in the sense that even though some of it may be Ford Lane, it only leads up to our house and is past our property line.


It’s entirely possible that the incline isn’t as visible on the second one, as I didn’t have a flat surface to show the picture on.

UPDATE: I should have included a picture from our house to the street:


Category: Home