2017-Jul-09, Sunday 14:10
mindstalk: (Default)
Is Tesla overvalued? Argues Tesla either can't cause disruption, or can't monopolize it.

did Seattle's minimum wage lower employment? two studies, two reports
and two summaries, differing about which sucked

Internet addiction and ethical web design

Asian anthem authoritarianism

Air pollution still kills thousands.

Intravenous vitamin C as cure for sepsis?

origin of Ashkenazi?

slow progress in parking reform:

Sea Trek

plate tectonics and evolution

right to carry increases violent crime, maybe? It uses a fairly new statistical technique to make synthetic controls. The result sounds robust. But the abstract says "elevates violent crime rates, but seems to have no impact on property crime and murder rates". Isn't murder a violent crime?

expert view on reducing gun deaths

oil eating bacteria
Neanderthal dentistry
host specific enemies and tropical biodiversity

Vancouver sea wolves
mindstalk: (Default)
"Jumping spiders can see the moon." Awesome eyes, apparently.

Cabbage white sex life

Papa John's peppers

What happened to the Greenland Vikings (2015). Leans toward the settlements existing for the walrus ivory hunt, and being abandoned after the rise of elephant ivory, the Black Death, and oh yeah, a century of cooling climate.

Hearing voices and how culture can affect dealing with non-standard neurology. (Psychic, weird, or schizophrenic?)

10 year old article on "positive psychology"

11 year old article on behavioral economics

Decline of front bench seats in cars

1660s air pollution

Jared Diamond on hunter-gatherer childrearing.

Suffragette martial arts

Nice table of Gospel events

Mussels that live on asphalt volcanoes

How New Zealand got PR elections
mindstalk: (lizsword)
Things I've been told by recent Lyft drivers:

* Uber and Lyft "take the same percentage", but Lyft charges more so they get more.

* Uber cheats on mileage, holding out until an attorney general was called in.

* If your ride estimate was e.g. $31, but actually was worth $22, Lyft charges you $22; Uber charges you $31, but pays the drive for a ride of $22, pocketing the difference.

* Uber often charges you surge price but doesn't pay out as a surge. Which, I note, rather defeats half the alleged point of surge pricing (luring more drivers onto the road.)

* Lyft surges based on demand, Uber often surges by the clock.

* Lots of drivers are switching to Lyft.

* Edit to add: Lyft is a lot easier for the drivers to contact and talk to when there's a problem, and more responsive.

Certainly I've been seeing a lot more Lyft availability in Boston than I did a few years ago.

Edit to add: comment below got me wondering about relative pay. A few sources:

In 2012-2013, taxi drivers were reporting $12/hour on average. This Vox article suggests Lyft in 2014 was similar, but that drivers were enthusiastic about the flexibility.

The link suggests taxi companies take a 1/3 cut, and that the drivers may have to pay for gas and vehicle use out of what's left, too.


2017-May-18, Thursday 13:19
mindstalk: (angry sky)
So, I'm used to three sizes of towel in a bathroom. Big body bath towel used for drying your body; much smaller rectangular hand towel that hangs somewhere to dry your hands on after washing your hands; square (6x6 inch?) washcloth for use in the shower. In a pinch, you can use a hanging body towel as the hand towel.

I don't think this is exotic, you find the set in any hotel room.

But the place in Orient Heights just gave me a hand towel at first. Which you can use to dry your body, but, uh. They coughed up the other two when I asked.

Place in JP gave me a body towel and a hand towel, which I used as a washcloth. My host said that was unusual, she thought people just used their hands these days, or poufs, which are a strange and alien thing to me. (Orient Heights did have two of them.)

Incidentally, I saw poufs for sale in CVS, with a sign urging you to replace them every month. So, less convenient IMO *and* cost more money.

Finally, the current place left me a bath towel and a hand towel; I gave in and bought a couple (came as a pair) of washcloths.

Modern world, end of times, youth these days, etc.

Forged mail test

2017-Apr-12, Wednesday 05:43
mindstalk: (Default)
How secure is an approved address?
mindstalk: (outhead)
Date your entries. "When did I write this?" can be a fun detective exercise but not in the aggregate.

Fully date your entries. Yes, it's annoying to write the year all the time, but much later, when paging through (paper or textfile), you'll thank yourself for not having to find the beginning of year marker, assuming you left one.

If you have multiple diary books, putting the date range on the covers is nice too.


I found a book split between my USSR trip in 1991 and life notes in 2001-2002. Very frugal of me but makes the diary hard to order. Thanks, me.

A bunch of my diaries actually have class notes in the front, diaries in the back; school year ends without filling the notebook, so there was spare space...


On the electronic front, my journal files have a format of

{{2014 Dec 3}
life stuff

{special event like Arisia
whole bunch of lines

Not exactly sophisticated, but allows pretty free-form entry, while delimiting entries on characters you can %-bounce on in vi, while also not competing with the parentheses one might normally use (including smiley face parentheses, which don't close). And yes, I have a script somewhere that checks for mismatched curly braces. I designed the date header with some idea of easing parsing by simple scripts, though it hasn't come up much.

As you can see, the braces recurse, so I can group logically connected paragraphs within a day's entry.

One could obviously make the format smarter, with tags, or {{event} stuff}, but even what I have has been pretty helpful. I can find a day's entry quickly, beginning and end, and see the bounds of long sub-entries. There are ad hoc tags: "book:" at the beginning of a line for books I might want to read; "movie:" at the beginning for movies I've seen (yes, not very consistent); semi-regular tags for regular social events, to enable searching for those; "me on " for links to stuff I write elsewhere. Could be better though, like having an index at the top of such tags for standardized use.

In theory I could write a script to bound searches, e.g. looking for regexes within entries of a certain date, basically primitive database functionality. (Or you could put entries in a real database, but I'd rather stick to textfiles for stuff like this.) I haven't felt the compulsion to go beyond searching in less or vim, though.
mindstalk: (Default)
I've been biking since 1998. Despite this, I've learned very little about bike maintenance. I haven't had to. I recall one flat tire ever, from a nail in SF, a few blocks from my bike shop. My chain popped off once but I got it back on somehow. I fill the tires with borrowed pumps, and I've generally taken the bike in once a year for tune-up. Generally I'd hear "wow, it's in great condition!" I'm a light utility biker who usually kept it indoors, so yeah. Pedals were making grinding sounds at one point, I got them replaced.

The past couple years I've been leaving it outside more, though, since bringing it in is a pain, and I've heard "you should bringing it in more often" as the rust builds up. And very recently I was hearing alarming grinding sounds as I pedaled. So I took it in, and got told my bottom bracket is "out" and loose. That's apparently not a big problem, though; the real one was my chain being dry, and looking fairly rusty. So I was persuaded to buy some oil and apply it myself. I got spray, thinking it'd be more convenient, then at home got alarmed by the warning label. Oh well. I did apply it, and woo! Huge difference today, no grinding sound.

So yeah, after 18 years, I've oiled my bike chain. Or, after 18 years, I've finally needed to.

Oil's weird. My one bit of self-guided maintenance was oiling the hinges on my folding shopping baskets when they got stiff. I'd apply some vegetable -- usually olive -- oil by finger to the hinges. Somehow it wicks in and everything becomes so much looser.


The local market had Cajun seasoned pork on sale. Pork what? It didn't say. I figured I'd take a chance. Put it in a frying pan, covered it, had it on decently high heat for 15-20 minutes. No additional oil, just what was in the cast iron already, so sort of baking it. Worked pretty well. On flipping I realized it was pork ribs; the hardest bit was cutting them apart so I could eat them.


I've known vaguely of Roald Dahl's Matilda for a long time; over Christmas I was exposed to the soundtrack of the musical, I guess. I finally checked it out today and read it. Mildly enjoyable, I guess. I was stuck by the long list of books Matilda had read by age 5, I wonder if Dahl was hoping to inspire some kids to go try Dickens and Austen themselves. I was surprised by the big twist.


Spam I just got: "Jesus's Lost Words Stun Christians (Not in the Bible)", from the "Laissez Faire Club". What.

more trees

2016-Jun-06, Monday 17:13
mindstalk: (riboku)
But first, unrelated stuff:

I was going to drop off some mail, and passed a postman sitting in his truck. "I don't suppose I could just give--" "Sure you can." And I handed it over. One fewer rush hour crossings of Mass Ave!

Coming home, I saw a Drain Doctor van outside. And now I hear mysterious chunking sounds from the bathroom ceiling. I suspect he's working in the apartment upstairs. Amusing to ID that out of a medium-large apartment complex.

A while back, I saw advice about looking at things and imagining drawing them. Even though my drawing skills are rudimentary and I haven't tried physically drawing any of the things I've looked at since, applying this advice has been useful for focusing visual attention, especially on details. Tracing outlines with my eyes, counting elements, paying attention to colors. "If I were drawing this, what would I need to know... aha."

Similarly, though I don't remember all the tree stuff I've read so far, and there's obviously far more I don't even know yet, there's already a change in how I look at them: now that I've run through a few ID keys, I have an idea of what to look for. "I have no idea what this is, but these are the things I'd want to look up." Or as today, "I'm not sure this is a honey locust, but it sure has similar pinnate leaves without a leading leaf."

And, today's haul! I think I found a ginkgo: certainly it was something with a very fan-shaped leaf, though I didn't see any top notches.

And... a day or two ago I learned that 'sycamore' seems to be a somewhat generic term for star ("stellate") or maple shaped leaves. There's a sycamore maple, which is really a maple, but there are also unrelated trees with similar leaves, like the American sycamore, distinctive for mottled exfoliating bark, and 'naked' light gray or white upper branches, and spiky spherical seeds.

So, a few feet beyond the suspected ginkgo, I notice a bunch of "maple" leaves, and then that they're hanging off of bone-white branches, and then that this tree doesn't have any of the 'helicopter' maple seeds that I've seen quite a lot of under other maple trees. Hmmmm. Found a few more like that, and then some undeniable maple trees -- helicopter seeds ahoy! -- that had more conventionally barky upper branches.
mindstalk: (juggleone)
I'm tired and lazy. Here's some things I found interesting.

Nacreous clouds seen in UK.

Couple pieces on "Bernie bros" and sexist attacks on Hillary.
And is Bernie ready for Republican attacks? For being asked unfair questions like why he wants to destroy the economy and turn us into Venezuela, or why he thought socialism was cool during the Cold War?
Speaking of Venezuela, the rationing is so bad even lines are being rationed. And the economy czar doesn't believe in inflation.
But to be positive: Bernie's Fed agenda

Harry Reid saved the renewable energy revolution.

How Houston improved bus ridership "for free": sparser network of higher frequency buses, in a grid rather than radial pattern.

How Likud won the 2015 election in Israel.

From last April, one article on how taxi medallions prices have dropped due to Lyft and Uber.

A trippy 9 minute history of Japan. The Reddit comments linked to by Vox are good glosses.

Purported evolution of fairy tales.

Memoization in Python

Thread on previews of a new edition of the Blue Rose RPG

Obama's reform of federal solitary confinement

random thoughts

2016-Jan-19, Tuesday 02:07
mindstalk: (thoughtful)
For some reason, this morning I thought about astronaut health, and how much it must suck to have a cold in zero gee. Let alone diarrhea. I wonder if they're quarantined before being sent up.

I've been reading more Holmes stories. One early thought was "he has his own wikipedia!" More accurately, his own encyclopedia, or almanac, or such. Books of clippings or other notes on people and things, which he can look up. Or have Watson look up.

I was at a Holmes panel at Arisia One panelist thought Holmes would have trouble adapting to new circumstances, or to computers; another thought he was superlatively adaptable and would love computers. "He has his own database already!" I agree with them. I mean, he might not take to computers a thing in themselves, because he's Crime Geek, but insofar as they could be useful to him? Yeah.

Cambridge has jumped onto the plastic bag ban-wagon, despite the lack of clear evidence of plastic bags being environmentally worse than paper bags, overall. I find paper bags shittily worse at being able to carry groceries home reliably if walking, never mind it raining. I wonder how many banners have cars and thus can smugly drive their bags home.

I've always wondered about the wolf-wheat association in Spice and Wolf. Wolf tail -> wheat head seemed the connection. At another panel at Arisia, I remembered Inari being the goddess of rice and foxes, and I suddenly wondered if Spice and Wolf is simply an off-by-one analogy: fox : rice :: wolf : wheat. But then I found a post saying there used to be traditional wolf:wheat associations in Japan.


The D&D SRD has a cute 404 page:
mindstalk: (Miles)
From Memory Alpha on the Menagerie:

Now, confined to a wheelchair, Pike is disfigured and cannot speak, though his mind is unimpaired. His sole means of communication is a flashing light with an accompanying beep: once for yes, twice for no.

You know, given that this was made in 1966, and that Gene Roddenberry had served extensively in the military, I would bet good money that someone involved in production had heard of Morse code.

(The episode description gives no hint of his communicating anything other than Yes or No.)
mindstalk: (Earth)
I. Headphones
I keep buying cheap earbuds and they keep breaking mysteriously. I'm not sure this is avoidable, even if you spend lots of money. Well, there is some alleged "Rugged" model out there. I figure as long as they're cheap enough it's okay, but I searched anyway, and found good reviews for the Panasonic Ergo-fit TPM 125. Also some others. Not necessarily for ruggedness, but for sounding good and fitting well at a $10 price point. And Panasonic has a good reputation with me, I've liked all few of their products I've owned (a walkman tape player, a VCR) compared to alternatives. And Consumer Reports rated them very highly for reliability a while back.

OTOH I also like instant gratification, and when I popped into a Dollar Tree the other day, I found earbuds there (despite what the two employees I asked thought) for, yes, a dollar. I bought three different ones.

One is technically over ear -- not like a muff, just hooks that go over your fleshy bit. Sounds okay but not that comfortable, and pops out when I try to wear my actual noise muffs over them. The second one sounded okay but smelled of plastic so strongly that I got paranoid about cheap Chinese products and put it in my spare room to air out. The third one I opened too and left to air as well.

Then I decided to go by Panasonic. Never seen them in a store so away! to Amazon! Next day wasn't that much more compared to basic shipping, so I indulged, and they came tonight. Sound fine and fit well, yes; nothing's going on for me to judge their noise isolation properties. And they don't smell toxic.

Keep in mind I'm no connoisseur, so feel free to be skeptical about my ideas about "sounds fine."

II. Bikes and pedestrians
So when I'm a pedestrian, I hate it when a bike zips by me at speed. "What if I'd stepped to the side for some reason?" I wonder. So when I sidewalk -- which I do a lot, because cars are scary -- I try to pass peds considerately, with enough space that I'd miss them even after a big sudden step sideways. If I can't I slow down a lot; if they look particularly fragile or unpredictable (senior, child, dog) I slow down even more, to pushing with my feet if need be.

OTOH I admit that from the other side, sometimes you can model the ped so that they seem predictable and you don't have to be that chary. Today I had an example: I was taking my safety-cut (I'm not sure it's a short-cut) across Harvard's extended campus, and a woman was crossing from left to right. Totally unaware of me, but given the paths and visibility, it totally made sense that I could zip by her on the left with little risk.

III. The Martian
I read the book a while back and liked it. I've heard the movie is good and sort of thought I should see it. When I realized it had left the Somerville theater (which is nice and walkable) I realized it was starting to fade and I should go see it Now. Happily I got two friends to come with me to the Alewife/Apple Cinmea. It was pretty good. They cut out at least two crises from the book, and may have jazzed up the final intercept a bit, I'm not sure. I'm still skeptical that Martian storms are at all like that. But good. I cried. I was disappointed they cut Mark's boobies emoticon/leet after they told him he was live.

As for the theater, I miss Somerville. Or Kendall. We had to buy tickets from the concession stand, waiting for her to finish getting food for other people. While there's a certain labor efficiency, it's also inefficient for people not planning to buy stuff. And she refused to give me a cup of water. I don't know if they'd have let me bring in a backpack with a water bottle inside. Oddly, there seemed to be lots of other employees standing around doing nothing.

I'm fairly sure that Kendall gave me a cup of water when I asked, and I don't remember grievances against it or Somerville, so probably either got cups or brought my backpack in.

The three of us stood in the lobby talking about it for a bit; right after the other two split off a woman asked me what we'd just seen. I guess we sounded animated and excited, I'm skeptical she was randomly hitting on me.
mindstalk: (Mami)
Some articles on democracy (pluralist and feminist) among Syrian Kurds: NYTimes, FT, scribd copy of FT.

If we kept DST all year, or got rid of it.

A Madoka fanfic I'm reading. It's like Starship Troopers or Old Man's War crossed with Madoka crossed with transhumanism and Culture ship Minds. Kyubey said we'd go to the stars, and we did. Many fans think magical girls are potentially immortal, and here they are. I've been enjoying it a lot. Could have used some more editing passes, but generally fun to read, often funny, I'm engaged with the show characters and the original one. Downside: it's longer than Lord of the Rings and still ongoing, last update Oct 6.  I've read 34 chapters out of 44 and am thinking I should pace myself, maybe go read Ancillary Mercy while I still sort of remember what happened in Ancillary Sword.

Funny panel from the Fate/zero manga.

Japan is actually doing quite well per capita: low unemployment, very high employment to working-age-population ratio, inflation is back.  Abenomics, and Keynesianism, works.  GDP is shriking... because the population is, especially the working-age population.

James notes that Heinlein's first story is closer to Dickens' last novel than it is to us.  This will be more interesting when his *last* book is closer to Dickens than to us, but still.

Polio is judged to be even closer to eradication.

Portugal's Left Bloc, a party run by women.

Secret gardens and numinous fantasy

SF written in 1666 by Margaret Cavendish

mindstalk: (Homura)
A deleted paragraph from the Wikipedia article on bow shape:

"There is a section in Homer's Odyssey when the suitors attempt to string Odysseus' bow and are unable to do so, whereas Odysseus is able to string it without standing up. A reflex bow is almost impossible to string unless one knows the technique and is easiest to string from a sitting position. This passage has been suggested as evidence that reflex bows were just beginning to spread into the Aegean area at the time of writing."

I think I'd always found it odd that "wily Odysseus" was suddenly supposed to be superstrong at the end of his story. Seems more fitting if it were more a matter of his knowing the right trick.

GPS music

2015-Sep-05, Saturday 21:18
mindstalk: (Default)
Idea I had on the ride back from a wedding tonight: a music mix with GPS voice spliced in between lyrics.

"My woman done left me" "Recalculating"
"All I want is love" "No route found to destination"
"Baby why won't you call me" "Signal lost"
"Beating down the payment, looking for a job" "Turn left at Main Street"


2015-Aug-30, Sunday 14:29
mindstalk: (Default)
Why the Red Line didn't go to Arlington, by a native

Why US tuition costs have risen so much. The toy model for public colleges is particularly interesting. 25% rise in costs and fall in state funding can lead to 200% rise in what students pay.

oldest stone tools, 3.x million years

Vox piece on nerd stupidity and politics. A friend noted that it's not clear nerds are any dumber than average. Maybe true, though we think we're supposed to be smarter than average...

solar boom in Texas

bike share safety outside of NYC

Kudzu: not that big a deal

why airline wifi costs so much h

wage subsidies vs. EITC


2015-Aug-15, Saturday 18:47
mindstalk: (Default)
Oil state prudence and sovereign wealth funds: Norway vs. Alberta, also a look at how Norway's fund invests. I liked the Albertan complaining that Norway is a relatively small country: yes, but it has more people than Alberta...

Debunking the fear about EMPs

Portugal, optimal currency area, and labor mobility: fiscal union trumps labor mobility in importance.
Who cares about reserve currency status?

First we export pollution to China via outsourcing, now they export it back to us via air movements:

Trees and bus stop waiting time perception

How the US 'justice' system abuses bail:

Vampire squid: not a squid. (Or vampire, durr.)

Real paleo diet might have evolved around carbs. Oops!

Privacy Badger, an EFF alternative to the supposedly more commercial Ghostery browser plug-in.


2015-May-26, Tuesday 09:53
mindstalk: (lizsword)
Feral hippos of Colombia, escaped from a drug lord's zoo

The Congressional debate about hippo ranching in Louisiana, backed by two figures whose lives are like 1920s pulps.
mindstalk: (escher)
I've seen about 100 anime series. (Go go IU anime club.) For Reasons (exposure to cliches), I wondered today how many Western TV shows I've seen to completion. I think I can count them on two hands.

Roswell (I *think* I saw it through)
Futurama? (not sure if I ever saw *all* of it.)
I, Claudius


I have seen a lot (like a couple seasons) of some others:

The Simpsons
Stargate SG-1 (probably have seen most of the first 7 seasons)
Dawson's Creek
Gilmore Girls
Doctor Who
Sarah Jane Adventures

And spotty (multiple episode) exposure to some others:

Game of Thrones
plus some others that I barely remember at all. Also, yes, I think I've seen little enough of TNG to be worth noting, whereas I remember (sadly) my exposure to Enterprise and Voyager.

So more than I thought at first. Still, something like 26 going down to exposure, with about 8 full shows, another 8 substantial. Of course, the US shows tend to be a lot longer. I think the longest anime I've seen is 75 episodes, which are half-hour (ignoring ad and title/credits time); B-5 was 5*22 episodes, Buffy and Angel 7*22 each, and those are hour eps. 418 hours for the three shows, which would be 32 26-episode anime series. Roswell's 3 seasons, SG-1 I've watched is probably at least 4 seasons in total...

Not sure if I've seen more hours of anime than of Western TV. Might be equal to within a factor of 2 and I don't care to count more precisely.