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|Thursday, January 1st, 2037|
|Tuesday, September 15th, 2015|
"... and since most economists are also human,"
-- Richard Thaler
, an economist, in Misbehaving
|Thursday, September 10th, 2015|
|Thursday, July 16th, 2015|
|Alternative to the Iran nuclear deal
So the major powers, with US leadership, struck a deal with Iran where Iran limits a bunch of their nuclear material and facilities and agrees they're only using it for peaceful purposes, and allows ongoing inspections to prove it, while the rest of the world drops various sanctions and starts letting Iran trade again, improving their economy. And as expected, a lot of Republicans are saying this is horrible and we should reject it, because it's not good enough. Their position seems strange because all of them also assert - and it's true - that *without* this deal, it's much easier for Iran to build a nuclear weapon if they want to. Leave aside for a moment the fact that they haven't for so many years even though they probably could've, suggesting they probably haven't wanted to. Still, what do these Republicans want? No restrictions, and no inspections? The status quo seems more dangerous.
Of course we know what they want: War. Tom Cotton, the Republican Senator who's been one of the leaders of opposition to any deal with Iran, has said so explicitly
. He also believes that war with Iran is inevitable, so we might as well have it now rather than later, so at least his position is kinda clear. Other Republicans who aren't quite ready to come out and say "yes, let's have a war!" have more trouble explaining what they think the alternative to this deal is. What's so great about the status quo?
But here's the thing they miss and that for some reason I have seen very little mention of in the press:We cannot get the pre-negotiation status quo back.
International sanctions against Iran have worked because they've been truly international. But Russia and China have never been particularly enthusiastic about it. They went along with the western powers because our demands seemed so reasonable: we just wanted to prod Iran into agreeing to negotiate with us about their nuclear program, to make sure they weren't going to develop a nuclear weapon. Preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons was something China and Russia could get behind, but they were never much into the broader desire of many western countries to limit Iran's power and influence more broadly.
Well, Iran did what we asked. They've agreed to a deal that was more than most people thought they would. The stated purpose of sanctions has been achieved.
If the US rejects this deal, China and Russia are going to say "if the US can't even take yes for an answer, fuck it; there's no point to these sanctions." They want to trade with Iran, and they want to sell weapons to Iran. If we accept the deal, they may hold back for a while on weapons, or limit them somewhat, but if we reject the deal, I'm pretty sure they're not going to want to have anything to do with any further international sanctions on Iran.
This process wasn't just about negotiating with Iran, it was also a negotiation with China and Russia. Accepting the deal keeps them in too. Going back to no deal means giving up the international consensus too.
|Friday, June 26th, 2015|
2003-06-26: Lawrence v. Texas
ruling, in which "the Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas and, by extension, invalidated sodomy laws in 13 other states, making same-sex sexual activity legal in every U.S. state and territory."
2013-06-26: United States v. Windsor
ruling, in which the Court "held that restricting U.S. federal interpretation of 'marriage' and 'spouse' to apply only to heterosexual unions, by Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), is unconstitutional"
2015-06-26: today :) (Obergefell v. Hodges
(Stonewall riots began June 28th, which puts Pride around now. Just a few days off!)
|Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015|
Since I didn't really like Google Hangouts for texting (it's very nice for video but I don't do video calls much outside work), I have mostly used other things - IRC, SMS, WhatsApp, ... - with people whenever they had those other things. But because Alice switched back to a dumbphone shortly after I gave her an iPad, we switched to using Hangouts and for a number of months she's been the only person I use Hangouts with frequently. Now I have really strong positive associations with Hangouts, because every time I see the Hangouts notification I know it probably means a message from Alice. Hangouts = joy, usually. This is making me like Google Hangouts even though it's irrational - it's not that the app/service has changed or become more likable. Huh.
|Friday, April 17th, 2015|
|kerning the car
When you park the car and realize it's not positioned quite right relative to other cars or the curb, and you move it slightly to get the spacing just right, you are kerning the car.
actually said "returning the car" but once I mis-heard him we decided it was a useful turn of phrase)
|Wednesday, April 15th, 2015|
|Hugos and Puppies
I'd like to read some of the Hugo Award nominees in the next few months, but avoid spending time on less-good nominees who are only there due to the sadness of the nutty puppies*
gave me a link to a puppy-free slate
, but that's not exactly what I want. Some books & stories good enough to have had a great shot at the Hugo ballot without any puppies, were probably included on the puppy slates. I'd like to read some of those, but don't have time to read everything, so I want to avoid the ones that would near-certainly not have been on on a puppyless ballot.
People who are familiar with a bunch of the entries on the 2015 Hugo ballot
, which ones do you recommend spending my time on?
* For a long version of the puppies thing, you can read George R.R. Martin's series of posts on his LiveJournal starting with this one
and continuing from there. For a short version... anyone got a link to a good short summary for readers who don't know anything about this and are curious?
Edit: This looks like a good readable summary that doesn't require that you already know a lot about it: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/13/1376743/-Freeping-the-Hugo-Awards
You do need to know what "freeping" refers to: Overwhelming a poll/vote/election by getting a large number of people from outside its usual community (people who would otherwise not have been involved) to all vote in the same way.
Edit2: Another good piece, with more historical context:http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121554/2015-hugo-awards-and-history-science-fiction-culture-wars
|Monday, April 13th, 2015|
|Dismay at reactions to Clinton's announcement
In the wake of Hillary Clinton's official announcement that she's running for President, I've been looking on in dismay at a lot of the posts and articles going around arguing that we should all just support her now whether we like her or not, and nobody should challenger her for the Democratic nomination.
If you don't think Clinton is a bad choice for President, then you don't need to be convinced to support her. But these pieces are aimed at progressives who have problems with her, and they seem to boil down to idiocies like:
- Because Clinton is better than a Republican, that means you should support her becoming the Democratic nominee. After all, you wouldn't want to support a Republican!
- Progressive third party runs for President are dangerous because they just make it easier for the Republican to win... so that means you should support Clinton becoming the Democratic nominee.
- Face it, nobody's running against Clinton in the primaries (umm, because those who might run are considering whether they'll have any support or whether everyone's falling in for Clinton from the start), so therefore you should discourage anyone from running against Clinton and just accept that they won't (if you do that, then indeed they won't), and support Clinton even if you don't want her.
When you see one of these, please call them out for the utter nonsense they are. Do it in public. Comment on Facebook posts. Write to newspapers. Say it to your friends.
We're not going to get a good candidate in the Democratic primary if all the people who might consider running think the public believes all this BS and will therefore support Clinton regardless of whether they prefer her or not. Show people that there are a lot of people who don't buy it, and that a legitimately good candidate who enters the primaries can get support.
("Why should we want someone better than Clinton, why isn't she a good choice?" is a matter for another, longer post, but it mainly comes down to her support for unnecessary war, death, and destruction for millions of people, and that she's been consistent in her support for those things and will likely cause more of them in the future. However, if you genuinely support her and think she's the right choice, you can still understand that these arguments aimed at those of us who don't think so, are senseless. Try to sell us on why she's good, not on "suck it up, you shouldn't try for someone better, because Republicans".)
|Monday, March 9th, 2015|
|Reduced Temperatures Ahead
I can remember the moment, on my first cross country road trip many years ago, when I first saw a highway sign that said "REDUCED SPEED AHEAD: 70", and I laughed.
That's how I felt when I saw the weather report today: "Temperatures dropping into the low 30s overnight."
(For readers not from the US: Around here in the northeast, highways usually have speed limits of 55 miles per hour near cities, and 65 miles per hour in rural areas. Speed limits above 65 are rare anywhere within 10 hour drive of here, and a "reduced speed ahead" sign usually means the speed limit is changing to 55 or lower. In the mountain west and great plains, though, there are a lot of highways with speed limits of 75 MPH and even some with 80, so 70 can be a "reduced" speed limit.)
|Monday, February 23rd, 2015|
|arora's annual confessions post
Oops, usually I post the link on the day she opens it, but I forgot and then I was away for the weekend.aroraborealis
's annual anonymous confessions post
opened on Friday, and is still open. Usually it goes for about a week, though it varies a bit.
Since it has already been going for a few days, there are already a lot of interesting/sad/sex/fun/weird/... threads. For example,
Lots more, and I haven't caught up completely yet, but it's time to get to work. Leave me a comment linking to a thread you found meaningful or fascinating or surprising?
|Monday, February 2nd, 2015|
|Snow is overly protective of my tooth
I had an appointment to get a wisdom tooth extracted on Tuesday last week, but due to the blizzard, they called me the day before to say they'd be closed, and I rescheduled it for this morning. This morning, of course, they called to cancel again due to today's snowstorm. Now I have to call back and reschedule again. Before I do that, I'd like to ask: do any of you have any requests as to when you'd like Boston's next blizzard to be scheduled for?
|Saturday, January 31st, 2015|
|Weird mail routing
I mailed a small box to Florida from the post office in Central Square, Cambridge a bit over a week ago, on a Thursday morning. Using the USPS online package tracking site, I saw it accepted at Cambridge around noon, and arrive in Nashua, NH that evening. I guessed (and later confirmed) that Nashua is a sort of hub facility processing mail for several states.
And then, things started to get weird
Thursday night, Nashua sent it to Boston, where it arrived overnight.
Friday morning, Boston sent it to Nashua, where it arrived in the afternoon.
Friday night, Nashua sent it to Boston, where it arrived overnight.
Saturday morning, Boston sent it to Nashua, where it arrived early evening.
Sunday morning, Nashua sent it to Boston, where it arrived Monday morning.
I know that sometimes packages get accidentally misrouted. Sometimes a box has an extra old barcode still visibile that gets mistakenly scanned. Random errors can cause a package to be sent to the incorrect next post office. But this didn't seem random at all:Boston(Cambridge)->Nashua->Boston->N
ashua->Boston->Nashua->Boston. Boston always sends it to Nashua. Nashua always sends it to Boston. There's no breaking out of this loop. (unlike TCP packets, postal mail packages have no TTL field :)
In the meantime, a package I mailed to Volcano, Hawaii on that same trip to the post office on Thursday, was delivered to its desitnation :)
Monday morning, seeing that it had just arrived in Boston yet again, and expecting it to go back out to Nashau by that afternoon, I called USPS customer service. When I gave the tracking number, not only did they see the problem right away, but they also told me the correct Florida address it was supposed to go to. Their system knows.
And then, no more tracking updates on Monday. Tuesday was the snowstorm and I didn't expect any. Wednesday, a new line appeared: Still in Boston, but now "Processing Exception".
BOSTON, MA, USA Wednesday, January 28, 2015 5:46 PM PROCESSING EXCEPTION
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 5:36 PM DEPARTED USPS ORIGIN FACILITY
Monday, January 26, 2015 4:31 AM ARRIVED AT USPS ORIGIN FACILITY
NASHUA, NH, USA Sunday, January 25, 2015 4:56 AM DEPARTED USPS FACILITY
Saturday, January 24, 2015 6:57 PM ARRIVED AT USPS ORIGIN FACILITY
BOSTON, MA, USA Saturday, January 24, 2015 3:35 AM ARRIVED AT USPS ORIGIN FACILITY
NASHUA, NH, USA Friday, January 23, 2015 4:26 PM ARRIVED AT USPS ORIGIN FACILITY
BOSTON, MA, USA Friday, January 23, 2015 8:32 AM DEPARTED USPS FACILITY
Friday, January 23, 2015 3:43 AM ARRIVED AT USPS ORIGIN FACILITY
NASHUA, NH, USA Thursday, January 22, 2015 7:26 PM ARRIVED AT USPS ORIGIN FACILITY
CAMBRIDGE, MA, USA Thursday, January 22, 2015 12:07 PM ACCEPTANCE
Saturday evening, that's still the latest update. 5 days looping between Boston and Nashua, and now it's been in Boston all week, "processing exception".Edit
: Friday, February 6th: It got to Florida today!
|Tuesday, January 6th, 2015|
Frederick, MD county council member Kirby Delauter threatened to sue if a reporter used his name in the paper without his permission.
The Frederick News-Post
responded with this editorial: Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter
I did not get his authorization to name him in this LJ post.
|Tuesday, December 30th, 2014|
My cat survived the year. Not that there's any reason she shouldn't have - she has FIV but she's an indoor-only cat so mostly safe from getting sick, and she's probably only around 10 years old. But so many other cats I knew died this year, that it feels salient that she did not.
My year was ambivalent, and on balance good. Not because it was so-so, but because the really awesome things were a little better then the badness of the really awful. Maybe I'll write more about that in another post, which would be friendslocked, if I write it. It's why I answered "mixed" a lot of times when people asked how I was.
Aside from that extreme of simultaneous up & down, though, my life stayed very stable. Well, there were some shifts in what I do at work, and that big project I put so much time into in 2011 & 2012 got shut down, which I find very sad. But I'm at the same job, living in the same house, with Valerie and Molly since 2008. In 2012 a house near ours that a bunch of our friends lived in burned down
. 2013 the cancellation of that project at work got announced, the large majority of our department transferred to other projects, and we moved to a new office. Nothing like either of those happened in 2014. ( Lots of travel!Collapse )
In the past two years, I went to... (places 100+ miles from home)
- NYC, Vermont, the Berkshires, a few times
- Atlanta, the Everglades & Key Largo, twice each
- Also the SF Bay Area, Philly, and DC, twice each
- Asheville, Raleigh-Durham, and several places in Florida
- Portland, Seattle, and Mount St Helens
- Colorado (Vail, Denver, Boulder)
- Hawaii and Oahu islands on two different trips each, and Maui on one trip
- Korea (Seoul, Gwangju, Mokpo, Jeju) and Kyoto
- Dublin, Netherlands, Berlin, Italy, Cannes, Barcelona, and Mallorca
My cat stayed home. ( Here she is.Collapse )
|Monday, December 15th, 2014|
A game from Valerie Thompson.
(though she got it from someone else, I don't know who)
Merely ending in "fish" is in suffish
rainbow trout / eelpout
gar / char
bass / wrasse
jawfish / sawfish
bonefish / stonefish
... and another late addition: toby / goby
First one is from Valerie, the rest are me & Alice. Can you think of another?
Edit - More from the comments...
aruana / piranha
cory / dory (which Alice and I thought of, but then thought "dory" wasn't a type of fish)
|Thursday, December 11th, 2014|
|Which way do you go?
Your walk to class on campus, or to work from home or the nearest transit stop, has a few options. You could go around that building to the left or to the right, you might turn first and then go two blocks over or go two blocks first and then cross... do you find one shortest or nicest way and fall into the habit of always taking it, or do you switch it up every time? What motivates you to do one or the other?
You're going to eat out at a neighborhood you kinda know, which has some restaurants you've been to more than once. Your friend ask you to pick where to eat. Do you go for an old favorite most of the time, or are you much more likely to pick somewhere new until you've tried all the places in that neighborhood? Why do you make the choice you make?
Your friend picks a place for you to eat, and you've been there a few times. Which is more likely: you order something you've had before that you know you liked, or you search the menu for something you haven't tried yet that you think you'd like? What motivates you one way or the other?
|Friday, November 21st, 2014|
|Traveling with my parents
Leaving now, and coming back the evening of December 7th.
This will be my parents' first trip to Hawaii! We're going to Oahu first for a few days (they wanted to; I'd skip Oahu if it were just me :), then Maui for 5 days (Maui is the best!), then the big island for 7 days. ilahni
will join us during the middle (1 day of Maui and 4 days of big island)! On the way back I also get to see mackelzinzie
|Saturday, November 8th, 2014|
|Snorkeling with Mantas
Clips of video I took in January 2013, when Alice and I went on a snorkel excursion to a spot near Kona, Hawaii, where giant manta rays congregate every night to feed. A bunch of boats and divers go out every night, and shine big lights into the water, which the mantas apparently really like, so they hang around the lit areas and are very easy to see.
Adult mantas range from about 15-20 feet in wingspan. They're huge, awesome, graceful creatures, slowly swooping around feeding on zooplankton.
|Wednesday, November 5th, 2014|
|A few election observations
Not the top stories, but a few interesting things on the side...
- Where will Scott Brown run next? He was born in Maine, but they don't have an election for Senate (or Governor) in 2016. Can he wait four years?
- The flipfloppiest US House seat ever is on a roll. New Hampshire's 1st district. Carol Shea-Porter (who is awesome, BTW, one of my favorite members of Congress ever) won it narrowly in 2006, and got re-elected in 2008. In the 2010 Republican wave, Frank Guinta took it from her. In 2012, she took it back from him. Yesterday, he beat her in yet another rematch. If she runs in 2016 chances are with presidential election turnout she'll get it back, so I suspect she is likely to. As Daily Kos elections put it, "Looking forward to [Guinta's] war with Shea-Porter continuing until Ragnarok #nh01". Or maybe they should just work out a time-share and alternate each year.
- From the 2004 election through this year, Republicans have lost every election for federal or statewide office in Massachusetts, except two: the two times Martha Coakley was nominated for federal or statewide office.
- Minimum wage increases won big: It was on the ballot statewide in Alaska, Illinois, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Arkansas. The lowest margin it won by was ten points, 55% to 45%, in South Dakota. In the other four states it was over 60%, with the highest margin in Alaska - 69% to 31%.
- Attorney General Eric Holder said he was resigning, but would stay in office until a successor is confirmed. Obama hasn't nominated a replacement yet. If one isn't confirmed quickly, Eric Holder may be stuck, since a Republican Senate seems unlikely to confirm any Obama nominee for any office ever.
- Lots of states had new voter suppression measures in force this year, in part thanks to the Supreme Court eviscerating a large part of the Voting Rights Act. But finally, one state went on the offence in the other direction: A "Right to Vote" constitutional amendment passed in Illinois with something like 70%, forestalling discriminatory voter ID laws and similar measures. Maybe it'll inspire similar measures in other states.
- Black turnout was very high, but the white percentage of the electorate was much higher than 2012 due largely to the fact that Latino turnout was waaay down. Obama reportedly put off pushing on immigration and immigrants' rights issues in the past year to try to help vulnerable Democratic red state Senators. Not only did it not help them, but it seems to have backfired and taken out plenty of other Democrats who would've held on with higher Latino turnout.
- Colorado has now voted down "personhood" ballot measures three elections. "Personhood" laws are ones that define a fetus as a person, giving them all sorts of legal rights. Failed in 2008, 2010, and 2014. Will Colorado have to vote on this again in 2016? Personhood also failed on the ballot in North Dakota this year. It hasn't ever won anywhere yet.
- Ballot measures passed in both California and New Jersey that would reduce prison sentences for drug possession and other nonviolent offenders. Yay, finally! We need a lot more of this.
- Most Democratic candidates for governor in races that were polling as close lost, but two won: Hinkenlooper in Colorado and Malloy in Connecticut. One thing the two have in common is that they both championed and signed major new gun regulation laws after Newtowne, and drew a lot of backlash in both states. Coincidence, or did gun regulation help them?
- Colorado Senator Mark Udall was possibly the NSA's top critic in the Senate (or maybe second, after Ron Wyden). His loss is a win for NSA surveillance.
- Michele Bachmann is finally gone! Although dr_memory says "just wait for her inevitable reality TV show".