l33tminion: (Music Metroid)
Almost as long as I've been carrying an audio-player everywhere, I've been equipping myself with a pair of Sony MDR-J10 earbuds. I first bought those because they were some of the cheapest earbuds I could pick up at (soon-to-be the late) Radio Shack. But I've kept buying them because they're some of the most comfortable earbuds I've tried.

Most of the earbuds I've encountered have an earplug-like cylindrical or hemispherical design which places the speaker on a circular face covering the opening of the ear canal. The MDR-J10s, on the other hand, has a "half-moon" speaker design: The hemispherical earbud sits with its flat face perpendicular to the opening of the ear, and the speaker is on the half of that face that sits within the ear canal. While this is obviously worse in terms of sound isolation, I like earbuds that interfere less with my ability to hear ambient audio, in particular because this allows me to better pursue my favorite hobby: Not getting run over.

The over-ear clips are also great. They conveniently hook to a shirt collar or pocket when not in use, and I find the curved, flexible design more comfortable than alternate designs that feature elastics or hinged joints.

The only downside is the low durability. And given relative ease of breaking (or losing) even more-durable earbuds, I'd rather have a bunch of cheap earbuds than fewer more-durable ones.

The problem is, these were evidently never a commercial success. Sony no longer makes them or anything with that form-factor. The very length of time I was able to purchase these earbuds deadstock (still packed in tiny ziplocks, never made it to retail packaging) after they were no longer available at retail attests to that. But the last time I went to purchase more, my previous supplier was out, and I had to resort to buying a bunch from some eBay-er shipping from China. Eventually, I just won't be able to find these at a reasonable price.

So I guess I'm keeping an ear out for alternative headphone suggestions. If there's in fact a clone of that design I've missed, that's ideal, but I'm on the lookout for anything that's comfortable to wear basically all the time, has reasonable sound quality, and keeps exterior audio unobstructed enough that I can hear an oncoming bus.
l33tminion: (Hope)
In response to recent news of the transfer of control of LiveJournal operations to SUP Media and Terms of Service changes that clarify LiveJournal users are expected to comply with Russian censorship laws, I've migrated my journal to Dreamwidth. I plan to cross-post to LiveJournal for now. I've cancelled automatic payments for my LiveJournal pro account.

I've long been reluctant to leave LJ over one management decision or the other, and I'd still guess that these changes most likely won't have much effect on English-language LJ users. But I really don't want to lose access to my old posts, so better to be proactive about it. And I think my internet presence is already too split, so I may say farewell to LJ before too long. We'll see.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Time continues humming along.

My mom came to visit last weekend, which was really nice. We took the kid to the aquarium again, among other things. Eris arrived at the aquarium mid-nap again, though she did wake up before we had to go. (We were about ready to leave when the fire alarm went off. No idea what was up with that, but it doesn't seem to have gotten any mention in the news, so was probably something minor or a false alarm.)

This week was quite busy at work. Among other things, I'm preparing a presentation on some of my recent work for next week's team meeting. Tuesday was pretty snowy, and I worked from home.

Ames ([livejournal.com profile] tenshikurai9) is back in town this week, so I got the chance to catch up and introduce her to the kid.

My new phone arrived (Google's new Pixel XL). It's not super-different from my previous phone (a Nexus 6P), but it certainly has a lot of polish, the new hardware and software work really well. Eris is also excited about that (in a way) because she's recently discovered the concept of talking to people on the phone.

Eristic improvements: Knee-walking, saying "hello" and "byebye".
l33tminion: (HHGTG Stub)
Unlike previous years, this year's trip to Sandy Island Camp wasn't a digital hiatus. I didn't leave my phone at home this time. For one thing, I wanted to have the camera, and for another, I was driving and wanted to bring the phone for nav. But unless I'm really committed to taking a complete break from the internet (and I wasn't), I won't do it, so I spent a lot of my time at camp listening to podcasts or huddled in the shadow of the internet shed.1

But it did mean a lot of time to relax, particularly as the kid had two grandparents and an aunt who wanted to make the most of quality time. Early on, it was, "Can I watch the baby? Change a diaper? Take her for a walk?" Sure, if you insist! Later in the week, it was more like the kid would just vanish and I'd look up and think, "Where did the baby go?"

Eris is still determinedly working on improving her mobility. This makes her extra interactive, but also extra tired and hungry. Introducing her to new foods is fun, and she eats not nearly as messily as I would have expected. Aside from rice cereal, we've gotten in some banana (her favorite) and plain yogurt (which she also liked).

I did manage to get in a bit of reading at camp (though I notably did not read any books from start to finish):

Piketty's Capital - I started reading this at Sandy last summer, planned to find some time to finish it during the year, and failed to do so. It's pretty interesting, though, as a historical account of the conditions that caused inherited fortunes to dominate the landscape of wealth in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries and why those conditions were notably absent for much of the 20th century. It's also interesting as a bit of futurism that predicts a return to low growth, extreme wealth inequality, a shrinking middle class, and the reemerging dominance of inherited fortunes. The last part, concerning policy recommendations, will be of interest to liberals, horrifying to libertarians, and probably politically infeasible in any case. Still, I agree with Bill Gates that the book is worth your time if you're interested in the topic.

Haidt's The Righteous Mind - Started this book some time before camp. This book's subtitle "Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion" promises more than the book delivers, and Haidt has blind-spots you could drive a truck through, and for all that he notes that he's a former liberal, Haidt seems to think that some of the moral intuitions he cites are absent from liberal politics instead of employed in different ways. Still, it's not bad as a pop-science book about moral psychology.

(If the author's name sounds familiar, Haidt has most recently gotten a lot of attention for writing conservative "what's wrong with the kids these days" think-pieces, including this one in The Atlantic.)

Cities and Space: The Future Use of Urban Land - Started but haven't finished yet. A collection of essays that was a product of an academic symposium, published in 1966. Interesting so far. Notably, it leads off with an essay that predicts the main problem of urban land in the future will be its ever-declining value as transportation and communication costs trend towards zero (the author also predicts that automated freeway navigation systems will allow traffic to flow at 150 mph bumper-to-bumper).

The weather at camp was pleasantly cool, and that continued on our return. (Had to get out a jacket, unusual for July.) Julie's dad was in town for a conference, and that Sunday was my 30th birthday, so we had some fun celebratory meals. Not a bad milestone. I did seem to manage to check all the boxes just in time for the end of my 20s.

Since then, summer has once again turned on the heat.

The handyman is scheduled to do some work on the house related to baby-proofing and climate control, but that's been delayed because he's sick. Hopefully the delay won't be too long.

I've been playing Undertale, which really is as good as people have claimed. And I have played a bit of that new Pokémon game that everyone (kind of shockingly close to literally everyone) is talking about.2

Eristic improvements: Substantial increases in mobility. Maintaining pre-crawling pose, reverse-gear backwards scooting, improved rolling. I'd say the kid is almost to crawling. In fact, she just got in her first bit of what might technically be crawling, which involved taking a lot of wind-up bounces before flinging a leg forward. She's also become more talkative. Definitely making the transition from cooing to babbling, some of her vocalizations are now recognizably featuring syllables and consonants. Some improvements in skill at manipulating objects, particularly those spoons.

1. The camp office, sole source of wifi on the island. There is some cell reception but it's terrible, particularly on T-Mobile.
2. I joked that it turns out that all Ingress needed to be wildly popular was to be combined with the most successful video-game franchise of all time. Of course, that's not really a joke, and it shouldn't really be so surprising that's a winning formula. (Though I do wonder if the game will have staying power, or if its popularity will be a brief fad.)
l33tminion: (Slacker Revolt)
Needless to say, I should post about interesting things I find more frequently instead of fishing through my backlog for an entire year.

Technology and Mathematics

The new way of passing the Turing test is to have humans pretend to be AI.

Who Was Ramanujan - Stephen Wolfram (of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha fame) tells the story of one of an unlikely mathematician (and the subject of a recent biopic). Really interesting stuff.

Urbanism and Transit

How Japanese zoning laws avoid many of the problems of US zoning.

Navigating NYC with a guidebook from 1899.

How to save the MBTA $100M a year: Fix paratransit, subcontract bus maintenance, cut administration.

On state-level funding of urban mass-transit, and why this is about rural-urban political conflict.

An old post with an interesting idea for modifying urban development proposal contests.

"Nations aren't the proper unit of macroeconomic analysis; cities are."

The king of the frequent fliers.

Food and Medicine

Why almost all eggnog sold in the US violates FDA regulations, and why that's not technically illegal.

Why the cure for scurvy was widely known in Europe in the 1700s, but not known by polar explorers in the early 1900s.

An amusing post on pharma company sneakiness, with a great post title.

More Recent Politics

Why Sanders Trails Clinton Among Minority Voters: It has a lot to do with Obama.

Why didn't Bernie Sanders raise any money for the DNC? Short version: Clinton is there to do it for him.

What Would a Trump Victory Tell Us About the Republican Party? The article proposes several possibilities about what pundits and politicians may have gotten wrong in underestimating the chances of a Trump victory. Very interesting to look back at this January post a few months later.

The Smug Style in American Liberalism: Accurately characterized on Reddit as Vox Voxsplains Itself.
l33tminion: (Ubuntu)
It's been two weeks!

I was going to post more, but I (continue to) keep not getting around to it. The sleep dep hasn't been too bad (though there have been some rough nights). Well, it could be terrible-er. But it has been enough to make me very absent-minded.

Julie's mom headed home on Friday. She'll be returning with the rest of the family-in-law next weekend for some belated holiday celebrations. Meanwhile, my mom is in town to spend some time with the grandbaby and lend a pair of hands.

I've been working my way through my to-do list slowly. Still plenty of household stuff deferred to post-baby.

The second pediatrician appointment was last Tuesday. Eris has regained her birth-weight and is due back for the next at the age of one month.

Julie got her computer repaired. I got my new computer set up. My previous computer was still working fairly well, despite being over six-and-a-half years old, but for the past few months I've been really wanting something a bit faster and lighter. The new one is also from System76, with Ubuntu pre-installed.

MIT Mystery Hunt is this weekend. I've been trying to work on some puzzles remotely, but I've really contributed to solving none of them. Still fun to look at, hunt has a lot of interesting puzzles this year (and seems a bit more challenging ).
l33tminion: (L33t)
I've started playing Ingress (a territory-capturing MMOARG game by Google's Niantic Labs). I originally tried the game when it was first in beta, but then didn't get into it until just recently. It's pretty fun, and I got Julie to start playing, too. (My username is Macrologist, my faction is Enlightened.)

Other things:

Olin Expo was awesome! Especially the Principles of Engineering projects (a "create a hardware/software prototype" class, which in my day was PIC micro-controller + PIC assembly or C, but now is a lot of Arduino or Raspberry Pi + Python using libraries like OpenCV). The tech available for hardware/software prototyping has come a long way in the last eight year. Olin's computer science curriculum is getting stronger, too.

Hanukkah parties with extended family and family friends were fun.

Wednesday, we woke-up super-early to fly to Lubbock and visit Julie's extended family for Christmas. I am really enjoying the vacation.
l33tminion: (L33t)
My mom was in town this weekend, due to a lucky confluence of last-minute cheap flights plus both of her new grand-nieces in the same place. And me and Julie, too! Really enjoyed the visit. Was really excited to meet Stella (David and Abby's new daughter, one of my new little cousins). Excited enough to distract me from properly catching up with my older cousins. Sorry, you guys! But I think I'll see them at an extended-family Hanukkah party tomorrow.

Other things to relate:

My PS3 broke. I'm getting it repaired.

Postmates (yet another "the Uber of X" business, this time the X is delivery) is pretty nifty.

For Xave's tabletop roleplaying group, Andrew is running a round of My Life with Master, which casts the players in the role of villainous minions (like Renfield to Dracula or Igor to Frankenstein).

I'm going to the Olin Fall Expo tomorrow as a visitor from Google! First time I've attended that as a guest, so I'm excited.

Work was pretty productive this week. I'm looking forward to vacation.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Last weekend: BarCamp Boston (a tech unconference) was fun. Probably the sessions I got the most out of were a discussion of technical interviews, which prompted me to write this essay, and a workshop on public speaking by Eric Wei.

Last week: Work was very busy, but I made good progress on several things. I gave my presentation for QPX Training and got good feedback.

This weekend: Summery weather yesterday (the last for the year?). Had brunch on the patio at Neighborhood Restaurant and went to the Union Square Farmer's Market. There was a Yelp Somerville party at Brooklyn Boulders in the evening. Today, the weather turned cold. Broke my winter jacket out of storage and put some summer clothes away.

This week: Thursday and Friday I'll be attending the Google Cambridge Leadership Summit.

Next weekend: Julie's dad and sister and our niece will be in town!
l33tminion: (L33t)
My shipment of Soylent (Rob Rhinehart's crowd-funded future-food) arrived earlier this week, and I'm drinking my first glass now, as I write this post.

It's a little thicker than milk and just a tad powdery. Flavor is very mild, like milk with some sort of bland biscuit, mild yeast and vanilla. (Now that I think about it, it tastes really, really similar to rice milk, which is unsurprising, since the protein is from brown rice.) Not at all bad, but not super appealing, either. In culinary terms, it seems to be in the same league as other commercial protein shakes I've had.

It still could make a decent snack (or small meal) substitute for those times when I'm deep in the middle of some work and want something filling, but don't want either prep work or decisions. But I doubt I'll want to do the work required just to keep the stuff on hand. (Maybe if it's successful, they'll come out with a bottled version and work will stock it, haha.)
l33tminion: (Climbing)
Cooking successes from the past weeks:
  • Kale with beet, pinto beans, and water chestnut seasoned with coriander, anise, and garam masala
  • Basil-lemon pickles (which made for amazing tuna salad)
  • Salad with red lettuce, mozzarella, heirloom tomato, and maxixe (a spiny cucumber)
  • Chicken, carrot, and onion glazed with Carr's Cider Syrup
Work was very full of busy-work last week, but reasonably productive.

Last Friday, I went to the release party for Amazon's new phone. Very interesting to see another company's effort at creating a full-fledged mobile ecosystem based on Android. The key features they add to Android: Firefly (image/audio-recognition camera app with an API, kind of like Google Goggles but recognizes more things and other developers can create plugins to recognize and react to more stuff), Dynamic Perspective (head-tracking simulated parallax 3D), and Mayday (live video customer-service). On the other hand, the disconnect from Google Play surely has some drawbacks, the maps app looks nice but I don't know if the navigation is good enough, and it's pretty expensive at $650 unlocked. They've definitely got my attention, though. There's some real UI and features innovation going on, which is cool to see.

Seems all the tech companies are expanding in Kendall Square.

Today, I climbed a bit at Brooklyn Bolders a rock-climbing gym that's only a few blocks from my house. I really should have gone sooner, they've been open for almost a year now. The location is really convenient for me, and I want to get back to climbing, I hadn't been for ages. Their setup seems pretty cool. Tons of bouldering courses, plenty of top-rope, and a fully equipped gym with weights and cardio equipment.

The week was tiring and this weekend is over far too soon.
l33tminion: (L33t)
The weekend before last, I was out of town at PyCon. It was fun representing Google at the career fair, and I enjoyed the talks I attended. I was able to work from the Montreal office that Monday before heading home. I see why people are so happy at that office, it's a neat little space with a small engineering team. Plus Montreal seemed like a pretty interesting and friendly city.

Some talks of note:A larger set of talks and tutorials is up here.

This weekend was marathon weekend, yet another weekend when all the things happen at once. Bergamot serves an amazing Easter brunch.

Getting ready for wedding season. DJ and Michelle are getting married in two weeks, my cousin Ben's wedding is two weeks after that.

The situation in Ukraine continues to be messed up.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Links post! Been far too long since I did one of those. Some very select stuff from the past few months:

Side Effected: A short-story film by my cousin Lev, now making the film festival circuit. Good stuff.

Daylight Savings Time is Terrible: A proposal to eliminate daylight savings time and move the continental US to two time-zones. It would certainly make working on the east coast for a west coast based company a bit more convenient.

The Turning Point in Freestyle Chess: Chess computers play at grandmaster level, but for now humans plus computers are the ultimate chess-playing team. But will that stay the case?

Barcelona as Airport Suburb: Housing prices have become so high in London that it might be cheaper to live in Barcelona and commute via Ryanair four days a week. Crazy stuff, though I wouldn't want the economic viability of my living arrangement to be dependent on the exact pricing model of a single discount airline.

The 120 Hour Workweek: An interesting experiment in productivity and self-quantification.

More Guests, Empty Houses: An article on the effect of AirBnB on housing prices in Marfa, Texas.

21 Amazing Hotels: Pretty pictures!
l33tminion: (Doom)
World news has certainly been interesting this week. There's the situation in Ukraine, which on the plus side seems to have a very high ratio of military maneuvers to actual violence for a war (there's still a complete lack of any casualties from military action). Does this end with Russia quasi-annexing Crimea just as with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008? Probably.

There was also a serious aviation disaster today, as Malaysia Airlines flight 370 went missing, presumed crashed. There aren't too many things that could cause a 777 to be instantly destroyed in clear skies, and it seems that at least two passengers made it aboard using stolen passports (if that's a rare occurrence, that's likely to be related, but I don't know if it is, maybe criminals make it on to flights for that journey using reported-stolen passports all the time due to lax or corrupt security). 777s are insanely reliable aircraft, this is by far the worst 777 accident (there have only been two other 777 accidents with three fatalities total, all from a crash last year).

Earlier this week, Newsweek returned to print with a splash by ruining the life (I hope that is hyperbole) of some guy who used to be named Satoshi Nakamoto (who now goes by Dorian). Personally, I think Leah Goodman's desire for a scoop resulted in her shoving this guy into the spotlight on some pretty flimsy evidence. I can't be sure that Dorian Nakamoto isn't Bitcoin's creator, but from the evidence I've seen I think it's most likely he's not. That he denies it says little, and a denial from one of Satoshi Nakamoto's accounts (disused for some years) says even less, but the background doesn't fit well and an analysis of writing under both names makes it seem like the two are different individuals. Of course, it could be an elaborate ruse, but I currently think that unlikely.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Work is busy, and much of my free time is still occupied with wedding chores. I figure if I make good progress in the next few months, wedding chores will have taken only a year total.

The festival that Pandemonium Books ran last weekend was quite fun.

Thank you notes are taking a while, but with steady progress I hope to have them done (or all but done) before Thanksgiving. I've selected, organized, and archived wedding photos, and they're now all up here.

I'm trying to up my game at work. I'm working on a 20% project where I can do some pair programming with Xave, figuring out how to improve open-source tools my team uses, trying to contribute more to documentation and process improvements, and doing more studying (I joined a programming reading group at work and applied some training budget to books; my office has a bookshelf now!).

Bitcoin is booming again, the perpetual weird technology / finance story of the year.

Twitter had its IPO, and sure is worth a lot for a company that doesn't make any money.

Fall scenery is beautiful, but the weather has turned suddenly cold after being gloriously unseasonable for a bit.

It seems everyone I know is still getting sick. This year seems nearly as bad as last, sickness-wise.

Julie's mom is in town this weekend for a visit. It's great to see her again. We all enjoyed happy-hour appetizers at The Cheesecake Factory, I finally tried their avocado eggrolls (as good as I'd hoped!). Hopefully colds will not interfere too much with the weekend's plans.
l33tminion: (Overwork)
The federal government is back on as of last Thursday. A proposed Senate compromise was approved by large majorities in both houses. In the end, the only thing that surprised me was how many Republican representatives backed the compromise, once the were given the chance to vote (the count was 285-144 in the House, 81-18 in the Senate, all nay votes were Republicans). Hopefully Obama holding his ground this time will discourage the hugely irresponsible tactic of threatening default (probably not on treasury bond payments, but loans are not the only kind of financial obligation that matters, defaulting on bills or wages is just as irresponsible) as part of legislative negotiations. And those that are concerned about the national debt would be wise to avoid tactics that cause plenty of misery without actually saving any money.

In related (?) news, it seems Ohio is taking the medicaid expansion after all. A strange story, since the Republican governor and the Republican-controlled legislature don't see eye-to-eye on this issue. Wonder if more governors will follow. "I've stopped the federal government from paying for your health insurance" might not be so great a point to campaign on.

Bitcoin is over $200 per on increased demand from China. Chinese internet search giant Baidu has started accepting it for payment.

In my life, this week has been quite busy. I made some significant progress catching up on chores, and managed to find time to get this year's flu shot.

At work, my current bug is annoyingly hydra-like. Migration to Google infrastructure has wonderful aspects and annoying bumps.

Oh, I haven't mentioned tabletop gaming here for a while. Xave ran a brief Nobilis game, which was interesting, and now Andrew's running a game of "Dragons in the Vineyard" (Dogs in the Vineyard mechanics, Exalted setting). Very interesting so far. Dogs has a set of rules that make for fascinating storytelling, and places the players in a very different sort of role than many such games.
l33tminion: (Yay!)
In the last couple of weeks, I've become interested in Bitcoin again, after reading Gwern's essay on Silk Road and writing a run-down of the technology in response, seeing the US government issue regulatory guidance on the subject (viewed by the market as encouraging, perhaps surprisingly), and seeing odd news in connection (or maybe not) with the crisis in Cyprus. So I've acquired a few Bitcoins of my very own. Hopefully the opportunity to play around with that emerging technology will be worth the cost, this is one of the cases where taking the effort to be an early adopter is much cheaper (depending on how you look at it).

I looked back in time to see if I'd commented on the subject before, and I did, prior to the 2011 crash. Not surprisingly, I was totally wrong. (One of many good examples of why taking financial advice from me would be a bad idea.) Well, not totally wrong. That post was June 2, 2011, so I was right about the collapse of "the current bubble" (and I'm not making any strong predictions about the new current bubble), but completely wrong about Bitcoins being largely useless (e.g. Bitcoinstore as a Newegg competitor, BitPay or CoinBase as point-of-sale solutions, Bitspend as a more general intermediary). More interesting than I'd thought.

Other stuff: Passover seder with my family was nice. DJ's band (The Silent Order) played their first gig with KICK the Band, Melt, and Rose Compact at Club Bohemia beneath the Cantab Lounge on Friday. I had my first relaxing weekend in a long time; hopefully April will be less crazy than March. I started on taxes (late this year).
l33tminion: (House Puzzled)
From here:

Scott Brown will not run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by John Kerry, the former senator told the Herald first today.

"U r the first to know I am not running," Brown texted the Herald.


That just seems like a very strange way for a politician to tell a newspaper anything.
l33tminion: (Neobama)
Yesterday was election day, and I took the day off to canvass for the Elizabeth Warren campaign. It was quite different from my previous experience with political canvassing (for a local city council candidate as a requirement for a high school civics class). That was blind, door-to-door, persuasive canvassing. This was a data-heavy, highly-targeted, get-out-the-vote effort. Work really at the margins. Get hundreds of people to work hard all day on election day, and maybe you'll convince a few hundred extra supporters to make it to the polls than would have otherwise (but if the polls are within margin-of-error, it could be that close). I saw that aspect of the "nerdiest election" first-hand (see also). The technology platform used by the Warren campaign was impressive.

As to the results: Warren won, McCaskill defeated Akin, Donnelly beat Mourdock, victories for marriage equality, victories for those hoping drug policy will one day be more realistic than rabid. First gay senator, more women in the Senate than ever before. California may yet be able to rescue its state government from attempted bathtubbing.

And Obama won a sound victory in both the popular vote and the Electoral College. Conservative pundits' accusations about a skew in the polls were not so much based on evidence as wishful thinking (and met hard reality in the expected manner). Nate Silver was scarily accurate. Obama's election wasn't a post-Bush blip, or at least not so much of an anomaly that a candidate as malleable as Mitt Romney could defeat a sitting president, even in such mediocre (though great by comparison to four years ago!) economic circumstances.

Obama's got a lot of work cut out for him. Congress is still divided, the Republicans still have an option of "say no to everything and hope stuff gets worse" (for another two years at least). The right side of the House in particular has become so polarized that Obama's all-compromise-all-the-time, literally-propose-the-Republican-plan-from-15-years-ago strategy seems "one-party strident"

There's the looming "fiscal cliff" (the obviously-terrible default cut-the-deficit deal that Congress (including Congressional Republicans) agreed would blow up in everyone's faces if they couldn't agree on something better), for one. That default deal would be pretty terrible for the economy, but chicken seems to be the GOP's favorite game lately. However, some Republicans are sane enough to see the writing on the wall with regard to tax raises, and notice that some subtly-done compromise on that issue would make two things a lot easier for them (those two things being "defusing the debt crisis without crashing the economy" and "beating Democrats in upcoming elections").

Some of my colleagues are despondent about the election results because of that last bit about tax raises. But I don't think it's realistic to expect to deal with 2010s problems on less than a 1990s budget while cutting the deficit, when 2010s problems are much worse and the 1990s budget still involved borrowing a ton of money. America had a great opportunity to solve 2000s problems on a 1990s budget while investing in infrastructure that would make 2010s problems less bad and cutting the deficit, but instead opted for an extra war and more tax cuts (at least the rich used the extra funds from those tax cuts to create jobs; haha no, just kidding, they spent like 179% of it on highly-securitized mortgage-backed derivatives). In 2012, we're dealing with the plateau (and eventual decline) of global energy production (mostly due to physics and geology related to petroleum and natural gas). We're also dealing with a decline in global per-capita demand for labor (mostly due to good things about technology). Not to mention some increasingly nasty weather.

We need to make investments in infrastructure that will get us through those problems, while paying down the debt. (It would be foolish to act as if US government borrowing is unusually expensive now, but foolish to ignore that the US has already borrowed a lot and that borrowing could get much more expensive later.) Not that it's theoretically impossible for such investments to be made by a method other than "government taxes people and hires people to build stuff", but I don't expect the necessary investments will happen at the necessary scale in any other way.

Americans are getting four more years of a President who thinks it's important to invest in infrastructure, education, and science. One who recognizes climate change as a serious issue as opposed to thinking of it as irrelevant to "your families". One who appoints competent administrators to agencies like FEMA. And a President that believes Americans need to come to some consensus about what investments are necessary to deal with (near-)future problems which involves (especially those most able to pay) actually paying for those investments.

@BarackObama #GoodLuckWithThat
l33tminion: (QED)
Sure has been a while since I did one of these, but here are a few recent tidbits.

Teach A Kid to Argue: On why teaching kids good argument skills is a better idea than you might think.

The Upside of Ugly: On plastic surgery and technological solutions to social problems.

Jay-Z’s "99 Problems," Verse 2: A Close Reading With Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps: Musical "life lessons for cops and robbers".

The Problem with Witness Testimony: One thing people should keep in mind, especially if they ever serve on a jury in a criminal trial.

The Toothbrush That Saved the ISS: Low-tech solutions in a high-tech setting.

Six Thoughts on the Case of the Breast Feeding Professor: The discussion prompted by this story is way more interesting than the story itself. Also, this.

Why Greece's Neo-Nazis Are So Popular: Not so different from other historical occurences.

Life Spans Shrink for Least-Educated Whites in the U.S.: Dimitri Orlov saw this coming.

The Spiritual Crisis of Zionism: A fascinating essay in response to Beinart's The Crisis of Zionism.

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