news you really didn't want to hear,
plus pointless commentary.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
The "#Occupy Wall Street" phenomenon: it is just possible that things are actually changing in America.
I can certainly identify. And it ties into Halloween perfectly, because I feel like I'm living in a horror movie:
And then there's the 99%. We don't ask for much. We just would like the chance to work for:
The #Occupy News:
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
"Occupy Wall Street" is getting interesting: some brilliant posters, innovative protest methods, and a message that is shaping up to be a coherent and concise concern over the way the ultra-wealthy elite treats -- and controls -- America. Mostly it's a safe, fun environment, but there have been some inexcusable incidents with thug cops and a few peaceful protestors have been injured. Boing Boing is covering it all in excellent form.
For history nuts, a forgotten war, covered by the winners: An 1812 overview worth watching | Toronto Sun
Mostly, deer don't seem to notice cars. And they are hit by cars 1.5 Million times a year. Deer, in general, don't recognize approaching headlights as being a threat: they seem to be almost invisible to a deer. Hence the massive numbers of deer killed at night. For my entire life, the only behavior I ever observed was that deer completely ignore approaching cars at night. If you tap your horn at them, they recognize that the sound is "getting closer" and they will turn and run away from the sound, but the car itself always seems to be something that doesn't even register. Then, three or four years ago, I noticed that deer were stating to take better notice of approaching cars, especially at night. This is important, and it's very significant. And it's a perfect example of natural selection at work. Smarter Deer? Smarter Drivers? Both? Fewer Being Killed On Roads
A few facts you may not know:
1. if you swerve to avoid a deer and hit something else, even if it's just a fencepost, you're "at fault" and your insurance will charge you accordingly.
2. swerving to avoid a deer often results in a catastrophic collision with an oncoming car.
3. if you're about to hit a moose or a horse: duck! The bulk of the body mass will come through the windshield, your best bet to survive is by being below the dash line.
4. most deer collisions happen at dusk and dawn.
5. November (peak of the rutting season) is the worst month for deer collisions. October and December come in a close second.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
From somewhere on FaceBook: "I'll believe Corporations are people when one is executed in Texas."
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The state of Georgia will execute EXECUTED an innocent man tonight.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
DADT is finally gone. It's about time.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Life in post - "Patriot Act" America:
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Simon Glick Versus Boston: finally, as of August 26, 2011, the US Federal Court affirms in a unanimous decision that YOU DO HAVE THE RIGHT to video a cop in the public performance of their duties. The Decision, in PDF. It may be worth printing out all 24 pages just so that you can present it to any police officer who threatens to arrest you for having a video camera in public.
Monday, September 5, 2011
A rare nod to sanity in the Republican race for the 2012 presidential nomination, from Jon Huntsman:
“To be clear: I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”
Sadly, it's only a brief nod, then he returns to indulging in the GOP's rabid "I despise the very air Obama breathes" crap.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Current location of all active hurricanes: Hurricane Tracker
Up-to-the-minute news on Irene: npr.org/irene
Diana Nyad: at 61, she still has a great deal of energy, ambition, and an indomitable spirit. She got in the water to swim 60 hours, and made 30. That's 29 hours longer than any of the rest of us would have lasted. Diana Nyad Abandons Cuba-To-Florida Swim
Speaking of water: NASA: Flowing Water On Mars?
The best way to make your point? With humor. Always. epic-win-photos-pride-win.jpg
Alan Simpson, former Republican Senator, respected on both sides of the aisle, has a simple bit of advice for Congress: "If you can't compromise on anything, go home."
But Right-Wing extremists ARE willing to compromise at least one thing: their ethics. Wisconsin Democratic voters targeted with Koch-funded absentee ballot notices advising them to vote 2 days after the recall election
I have mixed feelings about this gadget. I suppose it could be useful, but it's also a way of making money off paranoia. And it's bulky. ResQMe
I have no mixed feelings about this: the police in America have become militarized, treating civilians like "potential hostiles," any possible suspect like "the enemy" and the nation as a whole like "occupied enemy territory." Officers routinely use excessive force, considering Tasers to be a handy "tool" to force instant, subservient compliance. Anything other than unquestioning obedience will likely get you imprisoned, with a beating thrown in just to show you who's "in charge." In "volatile situations," people are getting busted -- and assaulted -- just for "being there."
Yes, I know that there are thousands of good cops out there, dedicated people who put their lives on the line to protect their neighbors. I know some of these guys personally, and count them among my closest friends, good people I would trust with my life. I hold them in the highest regard -- and they are very concerned, because excessive force has become endemic, and is a sign of systemic failure.
There's only one thing that will change this: work within the system to expose it, keep shining sunlight on the problem, and bring thugs to task for their brutality. Force departments to change their policies with the only tool we have: the courts.
And there's only one way that can happen: with evidence.
If you've been brutalized, you need evidence. And police departments all over the country are trying their very best to make it illegal for you to collect any evidence at all, even when it is needed for your defense, even when you are in public, even when you have done nothing wrong.
15 Years in Prison For Taping the Cops? How Eavesdropping Laws Are Taking Away Our Best Defense Against Police Brutality.
Police have the "right" to surveil you at every turn now, and in return, you cannot point a cellphone camera at a cop, even inadvertently.
A system that is wholly unequal, weighted against the citizens, does not belong in America.
Monday, August 1, 2011
The "viral" YouTube video that is taking the world by storm: She's Alive... Beautiful... Finite... Hurting... Worth Dying for
Speaking of such things: Tim’s official statement at his sentencing hearing
The debt, and what it's made of: class warfare
The debt, and how we got there: The Chart That Should Accompany All Discussions of the Debt Ceiling
El Bulli has closed. El Bulli is closing
What you missed: Dinner at El Bulli
How to fake it: The El Bulli dish-name generator
How to, like, you know, write more better: Writing Tools
Help Firefox keep you safe from prying eyes: ShareMeNot
Backpacking gets weird: boblbee-megalopolis. Here's the company home page: BOBLBEE. And here's a weird tent: OrangeTent Concept
How to get cheap airfare: Hipmunk and also KAYAK
Politicians routinely make sweeping policy changes without any idea at all whether or not they will accomplish what they say. And there's no excuse for it: We should so blatantly do more randomized trials on policy – Bad Science
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Understanding the debt ceiling in exactly 56 seconds:
Sunday, July 17, 2011
More TSA crap:
"Butterbeer" from 1588: Buttered Beere
"Butterbeer" at the Universal Orlando Resort, Hogsmeade's: How the Harry Potter Beverage Was Made Real
"Butterbeer" at home: Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - Gut Check
"Butterbeer" in a tooth-rotting insulin-coma-inducing version: Harry Potter's Butterbeer Recipe Uncovered? (And in predictable Fox style, the answer to their sensationalistic, intentionally misleading and breathless question is, "No.")
A long article, worth reading, but here's the condensed version: "News has to be subsidized because society’s truth-tellers can’t be supported by what their work would fetch on the open market... [and] markets supply less reporting than democracies demand... And news has to be free, because it has to spread. The few people who care about the news need to be able to share it with one another and, in times of crisis, to sound the alarm for the rest of us." Why We Need the New News Environment to be Chaotic
Saturday, July 16, 2011
I worry about Hannah Hart. I really do. I worry about her liver, her brain cells, her future as a life form, the likelihood of her falling down and hurting herself badly, and her ability to keep doing this without paying a terrible price someday. But damn, she's funny.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
First off, I must tell you about a wonderful and inspiring radio program I heard last week. It's only 30 minutes long, and it makes me feel like there is hope for the world, and that change for the better is possible: Sisters in Spirit
One of the speakers is part of this organization, about a woman who was a major figure in American History: Matilda Jolyn Gage Foundation (Hint: I'd never heard of her. Don't be surprised if you haven't either. There's quite a bit of bias in the way American History is taught.)
Monday, June 20, 2011
The approaching solstice always brings about a burst of energy from everyone. Sadly, some of that energy includes crackpot eschatologists ranting and raving. For example:
And now, to celebrate a great summer season of busy activity, my annual "How To" issue:
Sunday, June 19, 2011
The coming thing for backpackers: ultralight packing and the revolution new materials will bring to the game.
Ultralight backpacking has become a big trend recently, and it's an interesting study. Most backpackers consider a 35-pound pack to be fairly average, and anything around 20 pounds to be very lightweight, but the "ultralighters" shoot for a base pack weight (everything but food and water) of under 10 pounds. Some even manage under 5 pounds. Yes, it can be done, and you can be very comfortable and safe, provided you know your stuff.
Every piece of gear out there has an ultralight version. Backpacks, tents, sleeping bags and cooking gear comprise the most significant weight.
Osprey makes fantastic packs, beautifully designed, extremely comfortable, well-ventilated, and quite lightweight. Their lightest packs come in at 2 pounds, 3 ounces, very light but not "Ultralight." For Ultralight packs, look into, for example, Gossamer Gear, who makes an 8-ounce backpack.
MSR makes great tents; spacious, weather-proof, strong, beautifully designed and quite light: their 2-man "Hubba-Hubba" tent weighs just 4 pounds, 3 ounces. But Bozeman Mountain Works makes a 1-man tarp shelter that weighs 3.5 ounces, total.
Bozeman Mountain Works also makes a sleeping bag and bivy sack that come in -- together -- weighing all of 15.6 ounces. Add a Cascade Designs NeoAir mattress, at 14 ounces (reputed to be extremely comfortable) and you have a complete shelter, sleeping pad and sleeping bag system that weighs less than two pounds.
MSR makes excellent lightweight cookstoves and cookware. You can get a full setup for a total of 1 pound, 9 ounces. Or, you can get the Evernew Titanium Appalachian set for under 6 ounces. That includes the stove, the windscreen, pot support, and pot.
So it's clear that you can go to "lightweight" gear and carry about 20 pounds, or "ultralight" gear, and suddenly your base pack weight can hover around 5 pounds. But that's just for now, and things are going to change -- fast.
New nano-materials will revolutionize the backpacking world. Graphene will produce ultra-thin, silky fabrics that are nearly weightless, and tough as nails. Nanotubes will produce tent poles and pack frames that are the thickness of a pencil lead, light as a feather, and immensely strong. Aerogel will produce thin, comfy insulation that is nearly weightless. Titanium "sputter-coated" graphene will make cooksets that weigh a few grams. In a few years, your "base pack weight" will be well under one pound, and small enough to fit into a bread bag. Your total weight will be far more influenced by what food you want to eat on the mountaintop than by the gear. Your biggest worry will be losing your entire outfit in a gust of wind -- and that's not a joke. Piling a few rocks into your tent and zipping everything up to contain it will become a regular part of setting up camp.
This will, of course, cost a fortune -- at first. Volume production will bring the costs down to normal in a few years. This means that, as I get older, my tired old bones can still go backpacking -- with a five-pound daypack that carries everything I need for a comfy three day trip.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
More coffee madness:
Coffee geeks everywhere are going "Cold." The Hario Dripper I mentioned earlier (available in several versions) is the (expensive) gold-standard of coffee cold-brewers, but the "Toddy" has been around for years, and also does a good job. There are any number of methods and devices that will do the job. It's not rocket science; all you do is put medium-grind coffee in contact with cold water and leave it there for a while -- overnight seems to do the trick. And it needn't be refrigerated; room temperature will do. Then you strain it. That's all. Of course, a nifty appliance that does this perfectly every time, looks cool on the counter, is easy to clean up and use, and gains you bragging rights will win out over "simple and cheap" every time.
But brewing cold isn't enough; if you are serving the ultimate iced coffee, be sure to make ice cubes out of the same brilliant coffee so that your nectar of the Gods isn't diluted by the cubes. And just in case you have heard that storing your whole coffee beans in the freezer is " Bad, Bad, Bad," take a look at this great video from the nice people at Seattle Coffee Gear: they put THAT myth to bed quickly enough. Frozen beans are just fine, and they keep for much longer. Seattle Coffee Gear has a huge list of great videos for the coffee geek, exploring every aspect of the bean aficionado's quest.
Is it worth doing cold brewing? SCG was impressed with the results in even the simple and cheap Hario carafe brewer.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
In the 2012 Republican nomination, the field clears, the dust settles, and Palin is in a dead heat for the lead:
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The Republican nomination process is shaken, not stirred.
The field narrows with Trump's grandiose exit, narrows again with Huckabee's strategic exit (not wanting to damage his hopes for a possible win in 2016 by losing in 2012, which looks certain for any Republican candidate) and now look at who's "Left Behind."
(I couldn't resist using that particular phrase, and I wonder who the GOP would have nominated if the Rapture had actually whisked away the "truly faithful," leaving behind only the "obviously damned." Then again, the GOP has always felt that they can elect literally anybody they choose -- maybe even this guy -- so it may not have given them even one moment of pause.)
Sara Palin is still hanging in there, (remember my 2008 prediction that Palin would nominated in 2012?) Centrist GOP members are now part of a persecuted minority, thanks to the Tea Party Frankenstein they created to "energize the Base." At "town hall" meetings, TeaPartitasts jeer and boo any candidate that espouses anything less than a complete dismantling of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Welfare, and the Departments of Education and the Interior. They want a new Great Wall of Mexico built along the southern border -- and for VERY GOOD REASONS. They want God in the White House, and they want their newly ascendant entitlement to political power translated into a whimsical vision for the America of their dreams.
The current America is scary enough, and includes a Sheriff who says "If We Need to Conduct RANDOM HOUSE to HOUSE Searches We Will." And a Supreme Court that sees no reason why the police might ever need a warrant: Supreme Court Upholds Exigent-Circumstances Search. And a TSA locking horns with the reddest of red states in an attempt to avoid any legal restraint: Texas close to banning TSA searches, TSA invents desperate new constitutional interpretations.
It also includes the biggest financial investment house in the world deliberately running the American economy into the ground -- with impunity -- while reaping staggering profits: The People vs. Goldman Sachs.
But at least we won't be seeing much more of the swaggering Trump and his deeply offensive "birther" crap. Do you, by the way, know what "Freedom Papers" were? You should. They were the documents ALL freed black people were legally required to produce on demand, in order to prove they were not slaves. Without them (and even with them) ANY black person could be imprisoned on the word of any white person, and then sold into slavery. If you think the Birther demand for Obama's papers isn't because he's black, think again.
But all is not dark in the world; it is possible that the Arab Spring revolution includes an awakening to the idea that non-violent protest works far better than terrorism: Unarmed Palestinians Breach Israel-Syria Border into Golan Heights
Meanwhile, Tea Party Congressmen ignore the commonsense advice of Reagan: "The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the costs, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns."
Coffee Geeks suddenly realize they've been making iced coffee wrong all along: to be "perfect," it must be brewed using cold water. The Hario cold water dripper coffee maker ($250) is the hottest (coldest, actually) thing out there, taking hours to produce what is arguably the best iced coffee you ever tasted, with incomprehensible Engrish instructions as a bonus: Hario Water Dripper (Amazon.) And, Coffee Geeks can now crow about another excuse to indulge: Coffee May Lower Risk Of Deadliest Prostate Cancer.
The "chimney stove" is catching on fast, with a new independently-produced ultralight backpacking model that weighs less than half the lightest Kellykettle version. A totally cool way to make hot water.
Science, gadgets, homemade high tech and the weird :
Monday, May 23, 2011
Harold Camping, "flabbergasted" rapture prognosticator: "It has been a really tough weekend."
Sunday, May 22, 2011
The one confirmed case of rapture, caught on camera:
Saturday, May 21, 2011, RAPTURE DAY:
Just in case, wear clean underwear.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
The Secret Service caught in a political blunder: telling the truth.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Last-second important updates:
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Republican polls show a party in disarray, front-runners slumping, extremists gaining support, no clear leaders at all.
Monday, May 9, 2011
The (Shy) Woman Whose Words Accidentally Became Martin Luther King's
Monday, May 2, 2011
Last night, Bin Laden learned whether or not a bevy of virgins and willing slaves awaited his arrival in the afterlife. I personally like the joke about Bin Laden faring rather poorly as a result of encountering, instead, 100 angry Virginians. The most measured and reasonable comment so far today has come from NPR: "Americans can take some grim satisfaction."
And then, of course, there is reality according to Faux "News," shown to the right. It's interesting that there are no pictures of President Obama on Faux's front page, and that the lead article doesn't even use President Obama's name, but instead has a picture of Smiling Dubya, identified by name over the phrase: "Bush: Killing Bin Laden" and accompanied by the phrase "momentous achievement." One would think that the frat boy had carried out the hit personally, instead of having fumbled the job for seven years solid.
Monday, April 25, 2011
As if the TSA crap weren't enough: State Department adding intrusive, semi-impossible questionnaire for US passport applications.
"... proposed new Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history, personal details of siblings; mother's addresses prior to your birth; any "religious ceremony" around time of birth, circumstances of birth including names (as well as addresses/phone numbers) of persons present, & more. Failure to answer can mean denial of passport..."Well, that creates an interesting situation for people who enjoy the special status of being adopted with sealed records. Being required by the State to submit officially "secret" information which the State already has, and which the State actually forbids you to have, is a truly Kafkaesque dilemma.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Science, technology, and gadgets:
Friday, April 22, 2011
I for one am greatly relieved that Skynet did not launch their attack against humanity yesterday. I guess the work of Sarah Connor really paid off. Although I must admit that some terminators are more appealing than others.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
And now, for some perspective:
The Galaxy Song, from Monty Python's "Meaning Of Life"
Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way'.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide.
We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go 'round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.
The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down 'ere on Earth.
April 4, 2011
The 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination race heats up:
April 2, 2011
The Saccharine Republican Ire:
The "conservatives" and "Tea Partiers" are quite convincing at playing the aggrieved victims, but what, exactly, do they have to be "aggrieved" about? For example:
(See the "Archives" for previous posts -- here's the most recent)
Proud to be a "True Blue" American.
Freedom in America today
What's my ISP connection speed?
Papa Vox Archives:
April 2011 through Aug, 2011
Sept 2010 through March 2011
July through Oct, 2010
Jan through June, 2010
Oct, Nov, Dec, 2009
July, Aug, Sept, 2009
April, May, June, 2009
Jan, Feb, March, 2009
Oct, Nov, Dec, 2008
July, Aug, Sept, 2008
April, May, June, 2008
Dec 07; Jan, Feb, Mar, 2008
Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, 2007
May,June, July, 2007
An experiment in the supposition that shoes are bad for you with reviews of various "nearly barefoot" alternatives to the evil shoe.
An experiment in lowering the set-point as a means of safe, rapid, nearly-effortless weight loss.
The miracle of medical massage.
Where do your tax dollars go?
Want your vote to count?
Your daily Peanuts ®
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Don't be suckered by a dubious email that smells like an urban myth. Look it up and find out:
David Brin's Blog
One of today's greatest SciFi authors. A rational, scientific approach to modern life and governmental policy -- what a radical concept!
Websites worth visiting:
Big Brass Blog
Center for American Progress
Crooks and Liars
Left in the West
Susie Bright's Journal
Papa's Reading list:
Contact your members of Congress:
The US Cabinet
Your State Government
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