Thursday, July 30, 2015

5 Thoughts for July 30, 2015

  1. Of course Russia vetoed a proposal advanced by Malaysia, Netherlands and Ukraine, to open a tribunal over the downing of MH17 -- they had no choice. You see, even Russia's closest allies -- China, Angola and Venezuela -- abstained from voting, which should explain just how they feel about Russia's involvement in the MH17 incident.
  2. Was at Trader Joe's on Tuesday, when I realized that those new terminals they'd added several months ago, now had NFC payments enabled. Pulled out my phone, tapped on the POS and paid my bill using Google Wallet. Those are the same terminals I've seen at Fred Meyer recently, which might suggest that it's only a matter of software update to turn on NFC payments. Before long, I won't need to carry my wallet.
  3. Mark it down: Brazil 2016 is set to become a major debacle for the IOC. According to this AP story, the waters being used for the 2016 Olympics are so polluted, one expert places the odds at 99% that athletes who come into contact with the water will be infected. Tests performed by the AP show that the cleanest waters had virus concentrations equal to raw sewage. I believe the IOC is corrupt in the same vein as FIFA.
  4. There is backlash against the anger on Cecil the Lion's death, at the hands of poachers under the guise of big game hunters, and it goes like this: There are more important things to be concerned about, such as racial inequality, rape, etc. All true, but it involves a false choice -- we can choose to be outraged at all of those things, speak out about all those things, and still be mad at Cecil the Lion's death.
  5. College football is five weeks away, to the day. Out today, is the first important preseason poll, the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll with Oregon ranked 5th and USC ranked 10th. Meanwhile, the PAC-12 media poll was released, with USC picked over Oregon to win the PAC-12 championship. I get why people think Oregon stays on top (great teams reload when stars leave), but this is probably more of an indictment of the lack of a top quarterback in the North who can take their team to the championship. Kevin Hogan isn't a top quarterback -- he has a slow release as he drags his arm all the way back, as if he's pitching a baseball. He's usually a good game manager, though.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

5 Thoughts for July 29, 2015

  1. Good news, everyone, Greece had actually made contingency plans for an alternative banking / currency system, had they moved out of the Eurozone, willing or unwilling. Bad news everyone, Greece chose to stay in the Eurozone.
  2. I commented last week that Trump's support would not erode -- a result of his criticisms of John McCain -- because there's a substantial amount of people who believe that free speech means having the right to express (non-PC) dumb ideas without consequences. Polls confirm that Trump's support has not eroded, and look what Dave Weigel wrote: "His free-associating style, and stream of tangential insults, is seen not as crudeness, but as a refreshing honesty." If you read some of the quotes from people Weigel interviewed, it's exactly what I expected.
  3. Tom Madore has come out with a new political ad, this time asserting that, thanks to him, Clark County has had the highest job growth in Washington. And again, knowing how employment actually works, I thought I'd put together another chart. Both Snohomish and King counties put Clark to shame. They must be using the powers of Conservative Economics to derive their data and outcomes. Of course, no local media is taking on his assertions.
  4. Rick and Morty's season two kicked off, and the first episode is available to watch, for free, at Adult Swim. Yeah, bitches! Stop being uncertain and just watch it.
  5. Windows 10 is here. On one computer, the notification arrived and I DL'd and installed it; on the other, I'm still waiting in the queue to get the notification. First thoughts: It looks a lot better, and thank goodness the icon+start menu returned, instead of the convoluted tile mode switch to access the start menu. Switching between tablet and desktop modes are considerably obscured now, requiring you to select the notification icon in your taskbar, then going over to the right side of the screen to change to tablet / desktop. Charms is gone -- good riddance. There's a little bug in the personalization section, where hovering over the lock screen's preview will close the section.*
* -- An important warning on your install: DO NOT allow the update to install with basic settings. If you do, you will have opted in to what Microsoft calls "WiFi Sense", which shares your WiFi password, encrypted, with people in your Outlook, Skype contacts, and Facebook contacts if you allow it in a separate step. In fact, there are multiple automatic opt-ins to share your info, that you might want to check out. Apparently Microsoft has finally ditched its Scroogled campaign, and decided to opt in to Microshafting.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

5 Thoughts for July 26, 2015

  1. Had an interesting comment section discussion with a self-reported neuroscientist. Until I bothered to show some cred to be able to talk on his level, he pretty much dismissed what I had to say. When I finally bothered to cite specifics in response to his critique, his tone changed dramatically. The brain only respects what it knows. #snark
  2. This story is about Tim Tebow, but also about being on USC campus (where many NFL pros go, to work out, such as JJ Watt). I've never been a fan of Tebow's throwing motion, but I've been a fan of his perseverance, and watching the video, it looks like he's finally fixed his ugly mechanics that saw him throwing ducks. His mechanics were once so bad that there was no spiral on the ball, and you never knew if it would come out like a knuckle ball, dropping to the ground some 5 yards short of target.
  3. What I love most about Newegg, is that they fight patent trolls without hesitation, and win. The latest win comes from a judge's reversal of a jury's verdict, on TCP's patent assertion involving SSL and RC4 encryption. 
  4. Mitch McConnell angered some of his brethren these past few days. As we saw the other day, Ted Cruz accused McConnell of lying to Republicans, on the floor of the Senate, over a vote to reinstate the Ex-Im Bank (which passed 67 - 23 -- interesting to note that half of Republicans voted for it, even though they allowed it to expire in the first place). But what has apparently really angered Republicans, is that McConnell refused to take up an amendment (attached to a highway bill) to defund Planned Parenthood.
  5. Jeb Bush wants to "phase out" Medicare. I'd love to be in on that conversation with his brother, GWB, when he explains that he's going to cut the very program that GWB expanded in 2003. I guess this means that Jeb Bush is out of the closet and now openly expressing disdain for Medicare. An interesting intersection between the GOP desire to eliminate Medicare and repeal the ACA: The Kaiser Family Foundation shows that Medicare spending growth has been dramatically reduced as a result of the ACA, and as the CBO has noted, repealing the ACA would increase federal deficit spending.
P.S. Enjoy the Trump show; it's just getting started.

Friday, July 24, 2015

5 Thoughts for July 24, 2015

  1. Bonavita stuff, on seriously awesome sale, at Woot. I bought this 5 cup model -- Sur La Table had it for $119.99 for a while, but stock at the store down the street was nonexistent, and when it came into stock I missed out; but at $89.99 on Woot, it all worked out for the best, eh?
  2. More about the Sandra Bland dash cam video: Are you sure we're not in the Matrix? Speaking of, if she had told jailers that she was depressed and had attempted suicide in the past, isn't it negligent to not check her condition on a regular schedule? Either they made up the story to cover up something worse such as manslaughter, or they've admitted to criminal negligence.
  3. News outlets, as typical, are reporting incorrectly, either that IKEA is recalling Malm-series dressers, or that IKEA is offering repair kits. This is a result of recent reports of some kids who had climbed onto them, tipped them over and onto them. These are false reports, because IKEA is merely giving out wall-anchoring kits -- the stuff that already comes with the 3+ drawer chests. You can see the instructions for it on page 16; there are no less than 3 warnings in the instruction packet. Blame the careless parents who failed to follow the instructions.
  4. This one sentence from Reuters on the US-Iran deal tells you everything you need to know to understand the deal: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both counter-attacked on Thursday against conservatives at home who are trying to block last week's nuclear deal." Isn't it interesting, that conservatives in Iran and the US would rather go on fighting with the belief that their side has leverage remaining on the table?
  5. The tsunami evacuation maps were updated for O'ahu. 2 out of 3 Costco locations are in the extreme tsunami zone! Oh noes!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

5 Thoughts for July 21, 2015

  1. A long time ago, I used to be into flax seed, back when it first was published as having omega oils and alpha-linolelic acid -- all good things for you. But that didn't last long, because the flavor is horrendous. Flax seed is also known as linseed oil, which, some of you may realize is at the core of true linoleum flooring. Come to think of it, it tasted much like how linoleum flooring smells, up close.
  2. Do you remember when Gap turned out ads featuring swing music, and swing music became all the rage? Lately I've been listening to a derivative hybrid: Electro-Swing. Bart & Baker, specifically. Google Music is awesome.
  3. I use my own customized ringtones on my phone (like this one). The first step is to use Audacity to find a section in a music file that works as a decent loop. Because music loops tend to be fairly long, you have to squeeze it down to roughly 15-30 seconds long; in Audacity you alter the tempo, as such, so that the pitch doesn't increase from the increased speed (making it sound like The Chipmunks). After exporting the audio to an MP3, I then upload it to Dropbox, then open the file within the Dropbox app on my phone. From there, I use OI File Manager to copy the file and paste it into the ringtone folder. Finally, I go into each contact and change the ringtone. It's not a walk in the park, obviously, but when you figure it all out, you'll never use stock ringtones, ever.
  4. If you are worried about the Cascadian Fault triggering a massive earthquake along the west coast, rather than buying and storing tons of backpacking pouches or canned goods, why not just buy dehydrated / dried goods at the bulk section of your grocery store, supplemented by dried textured vegetable protein (looks like ground beef)? Don't forget the UV pen and batteries, if you don't have stored water.
  5. I was holding off passing judgment on the Sandra Bland arrest until I learned more. After watching the dash cam video which was just made public, I suspect that the officer will be indicted on civil rights violations and the second responding officer will be reprimanded by her own chief. Here's the bottom line: The officer lied in the video, and was solely responsible for continuing to escalate the encounter.

Monday, July 20, 2015

5 Thoughts for July 20, 2015

Been a while, huh?
  1. Bought some earphone foam pad replacements from Amazon, last week, and over the weekend I received them and replaced the foam pads on my Motorola S305. The process was very simple: Rip out the old pad, pop up the ring holding them in (you can see the pad tucked into the ring) with a metal or plastic edge tool, place the ring inside the foam pad and pop it all back in. Took about 2 minutes, and it looks brand new; feels much better too, as the old foam had been compressed and offered little comfort.
  2. Donald Trump seems like a fool on the surface, but if you look closely at his actions, he's doing exactly what people want their candidates to do: Be completely honest and unapologetic for holding your beliefs. I think it's very possible that his criticism of John McCain (contending that he is not a "hero") will actually boost him in the polls, because many conservatives believe that politicians are too afraid to express non-politically-correct opinions directly, and see this commentary by Trump as proof that he is unlike the other politicians who cower for political correctness. In other words, Trump is the leader of those who believe they have they right to express stupid ideas without consequences.
  3. The Pluto flyby was spectacular. They have so much data, such that most of it has yet to be transmitted back, at something like 2 kilobits per second, which is like 1980s speed. Later in fall, the rest of the data will be sent back. Totally excited about seeing Pluto (and other objects near and in the Kuiper Belt).
  4. While showering, I noticed that the water was significantly harder than normal. Just last week, Portland announced that, despite having enough water at Bull Run, they were tapping ground water and blending it, at 20%. I thought I'd check out the situation by looking at Bull Run's data, and indeed, this is unlike the normal year. You can see the direct result of limited snow melt from a dry winter.
  5. Are you a fan of Zojirushi rice cookers? Woot's got them on sale, which, in some cases might only be $5 less than Amazon's price, but that's because Amazon owns Woot. I like these types of rice cookers (not just from Zojirushi), but unless you live in Hawaii, they're rather expensive and hard to find in a physical store.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Job Growth Comparison Between Multnomah and Clark Counties

Republican David Madore has been saturating TV with political ads recently, ahead of an election next month for a newly created Clark (WA) County Chairperson, asserting that he was responsible for job growth in Clark County.

I happen to know a thing or two about how metropolitan area employment works, so I thought it might be worth testing his assertion by taking two disparate counties from within the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro MSA.


Between January 2008 and May 2015, Multnomah County gained 34,475 jobs; in that same period Clark County has lost 3,387 jobs.

Yep, Clark County's employment growth is definitely a shining example of conservative governance.