Archive for category Things that are Busted

Median net worth of congressmembers: 1m. Wonder Why?

Congress, after continuously using insider trading law exceptions to enrich its members, made insider trading by its members illegal in 2012 (this was known as the STOCK act, bill S.2038) The mechanism to enforce this was public access to the records of the members of congress.

Then, the 113th congress quietly passed bill S.716.ES into law (how quietly? Unanimously, no debate, no recorded vote, total voting time: 14 seconds), which eliminated public access to the records of the president, vice president, any member of congress, and any candidate for congress.

Naturally, members of congress are in the perfect position to know about many advances and changes with regard to corporate value fluctuations. They make the laws that cause many of those value fluctuations, and then of course there are the lobbyists.

If I had access to this information for several years, as do congress members, I’m sure my net worth would be quite different from what it is now too.

But hey, no one cares. ‘Murica, right? Let’s get those tech jobs sent overseas while we stop the Terrible Threat Of Immigrants. Perhaps then I’ll be able to utilize my extensive programming skills doing… yard work. Thanks, congress. Thanks, corporations.

Congress: 14% approval, 94% re-election rate. Are people stupid, or what?

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Defy Invalid Social Norms

disnxThe elders have their noses in the air and a stick where only their proctologists can find it. You know it. I know it. Even they probably know it. You can say something about it!

Definitely not a laydown, yet not so directly offensive as to put everyone off the moment you show up.

This is one of my t-shirts (you can also get it put on a hoodie or quite a range of other wearables), which I would be obliged if you would look at and perhaps consider adding to your wardrobe, which in turn will kick a few (very few, sadly) dollars my way. It’s one of my best tees, in my not-so-humble opinion. I wear this one more often than any other.

Some good news is that as I write this, the tee vendor, Zazzle, is having a decent sale, with discounts on both products and shipping costs.

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What’s that Smell?

As they train to become a doctor, new interns are taught about many different diseases that produce various sets of otherwise similar symptoms. In conjunction with this new and complex knowledge, they are also taught this truism: “When you hear hoofprints, you must not initially assume a zebra is in the vicinity.” This pithy remark is meant to impart that, for instance, if a patient comes in bleeding from an orifice, one must not immediately assume that Ebola is in the building; more likely something much more common is in play, such as hemorrhoids or perhaps an unfortunate excess of enthusiasm coupled with a new, ahem, toy.

One of the clearer signs that I was becoming a competent programmer was that the problems in my code began, more and more often, to in fact, be zebras. Instead of a misplaced character or a missing clause or some kind of blatant conceptual error, the abject weirdnesses that were most often populating the realm of my final, demonstrably accurate diagnoses came to be things like operating system bugs, broken libraries, incomplete emulations and exotic compiler bugs. Zebras.
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Cellphone Etiquette During Conversation

Wandering though life, I often encounter the occasional person who seems to have missed an etiquette class. Or several. In particular, I have noticed that a very large number of gaffes occur during face to face conversation. So as a gift, I provide the following guide to using your cellphone when in conversation with family, friends, co-workers, and friendly companions:

Rule #1: Don’t.

Rule #2: See Rule #1

If your phone rings, vibrates or plays an obnoxious ringtone (all ringtones are obnoxious) there is only one polite action: Turn it off or mute it, while apologizing: “I’m sorry, I forgot to turn my phone off. Fixed!” Slip it back in your pocket and deal with it later.

You may also benefit from my handy guide to Cellphone Etiquette at the Table.

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GMail degrades further. Thanks, Google.

Well, today Google completely dropped support for the GMail desktop notifier. This is (ok, was) a handy little menu bar item that kept a count of how many messages were waiting, a list of message subjects, and gave a little ding-ding when new mail came in. It kept me from having to run my browser all the time, and I could easily hear when new mail arrived no matter where I was (my house is an open design, like a loft.)
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Voice of Russia (former Radio Moscow) going dark

Sad news — another important broadcaster is abandoning the short waves. On January 1st, 2014, VOR will cease transmitting except on medium wave, and a token presence on the Internet.

VOR has been broadcasting to one hundred sixty countries with about twenty five hours of programming each day. As Radio Moscow, VOR was the first shortwave station to broadcast internationally; with that credit, it is also at present the station with the longest continuous presence on the short waves.

Somewhere in my various pack-rattery, I have a beautiful mug from Radio Moscow, obtained in the late 1980′s if I recall correctly. I guess it’s time to bring it out and give it a place on the memorabilia shelves.

Well, I suppose there is a bright side: Without those big gun transmitters on the air, it’ll be a little easier to hear the smaller stations from time to time.

VOR joins the BBC in abandoning the shortwave bands; the slide continues.

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Credible Feminism and “Being Nice”

The following is taken verbatim from a letter I wrote to the New York Times on July 31st, 2013, in response to an article where the author spoke to the desirability of asexual dressing and avoiding being nice just for the sake of smoothing social interactions:

Credible feminism drives equality of power, pay, opportunity, and recognition. It’s not about wearing pants to deny or distance gender. Men and women are naturally and irrevocably different in their sexuality: behavior that celebrates this — including that which drives sexually tuned plumage — is not only reasonable, it is healthy.

Women will never bridge the very real gap by attempting to subvert their own sexuality, because in doing so, they cede many cues of desirability to others.

The same thing applies to “nice.” Nice people are selected ahead of others for many roles simply because it is perceived that it will be more pleasant to be around them. If you eschew “nice”, you cede yet another social slice of desirability to others.

In either case, such a choice is completely up to the individual — but the consequences won’t be.

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