Archive for the ‘Other’ Category.

Remember Richard Jewell

My wife and I were discussing the Atlanta bombing last night and it struck me that, with all the false reports out of Boston, it would be useful to remind folks of the fate of Richard Jewell, a man whose life was essentially destroyed by our collective need for quick answers about a tragedy.  But Patrick at Popehat has already done the heavy lifting, so I will turn it over to him.

By the way, in an odd local angle on the story, for some reason Fox decided to interview Joe Arpaio as an "expert" after the blast.  Joe is an expert -- at getting himself media attention.  But I am trying to remember the last terrorist incident we had here in Phoenix.

Damn April Fools! I Wanted This to be Real

Got Skills

Why Yes, I Am Confident in My Masculinity

This weekend I will be running (with my daughter) in the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando.

Last weekend she and I went to the fabric store, bought a bunch of tulle (new word for me) and made her a tutu to run in.  Tested it out running 6 miles.  I think she found it liberating to run all around town in a tutu and a tiara.  Got lots of honks from cars that passed.

I will post a picture when I have one.  I will run in costume too, but don't expect too much.  I am a person who cuts off the end of my shoelaces when running distances to reduce weight, so my costume is not elaborate.

Update: Got my hair cut today. Another ounce shaved off

2012 Drought in Perspective

I don't know if this is a result of the severity of the drought being overblown or of the continued improvement of farming technology, or a bit of both.   Here is the recent data on 2012:

"As anticipated, lower projected production for both corn and soybeans was reported this month," said AFBF economist Todd Davis. "It will be some time before the long-term effects of the 2012 drought are fully played out. But it appears likely that continued strong worldwide demand for corn and soybeans will lead to higher projected prices."

USDA forecast corn production at 10.7 billion bushels. The average yield for corn was forecast at 122.8 bushels per acre this year, down slightly from the August prediction. Once harvest is complete, if the average corn yield comes in at 122.8 bushels per acre, it would be the smallest average yield since 2003.

I am glad I don't deal day to day with grain yield numbers, because every source I checked seems to be 3-5% off the other sources for historic numbers.  There must be some definitional issues I don't understand with acres vs. net acres.  But taking 2012 equal to to 2003, which is the worst-case way to interpret the above statement, we get this chart:

So, down 15-20% from the last several years, which is not good, but a number that still would be nearly an all-time high until about 2000.  Even at this lower number, US yields will be more than twice the corn yield per acre in the rest of the world.   Disasters are relative, I suppose, but this is a long way from the 1930's.

Bad Week Next Week

Why?  Alimentary, my dear Watson.  I have a dentist appointment at the beginning of the week and a colonoscopy at the end.  Awesome.  I will say that the colonoscopy seems the perfect way to celebrate two weeks of political conventions.  It is a sort of physical analog to how I feel listening to politicians speak.

LA Traffic Bleg

OK, I have to drive on Thursday from San Diego to make a meeting around 10AM just north of LA off I-5.  I am willing to believe that there is no good way across town this time of day, and the only reasonable approach is to leave early and bring emergency rations.  However, if anyone has any advice as to the best way to thread my way south to north through LA during morning rush hour, leave a comment.

Update:  Thanks everyone.  I actually have to be in Ventura County via Santa Clarita so I will probably take the 15 and go around.  I also decided to take my (teenage) kids along to get the carpool lane.  Going to ditch them at Magic Mountain (not a bad fate) as I pass by.  I have my iPad charged with traffic, and will just get up early.

Unintended Consequences

These women's weight gain ads seem funny because they are so out of step with most women's concerns today.  But what changed?  My guess is that the whole weight-gain thing really was about larger breasts.  If you wanted more cleavage, you had to gain weight.  But breast implants changed that.  Now one can have an improbable rack while still starving.  So while breast implants are a positive in terms of empowering women to have control over their body, they have eliminated an important counter-balance to this crazy pressure on skinny-ness.

Disclosure:  On a scale from 1=Kate Moss to 10=Rubens paintings, my preferences definitely are in the higher numbers, so I am not without bias.  I also have a daughter who wastes way too much of her life worrying whether her body properly meets societal expectations for fat content.

Time Perception Paradox

This is true for me, ymmv.

Time seems to pass much more quickly as one is experiencing it when one is busy.

However, looking backwards, time periods that were chock-full of activities tend to lengthen.  A point in time a year ago seems further in the past in a busy year than a sparse year.  Almost as if your mind assumes some average activity density, then applies this to remembered activities to estimate time passage.

The absolute randomness of this observation should give readers an idea of my state of mind today.

Wyoming Ranch

A family member is selling this beautiful ranch in Wyoming.  I can't afford it, but if you know someone who can it is a gorgeous location in the mountains adjacent to the Medicine Bow National Forest.

Sorry for the shameless promotion but the owner has some health issues and I agreed to help out a bit, despite the fact that I have absolutely no experience trying to sell something like this.

Things I Didn't Know

I had always assumed the cover for the Beatle's Sgt. Pepper album was just a photo mosaic, a cut and paste of photos that was then re-photographed into the final image.  But it appears to have been shot life-size all at once.  More here.  Apparently Hitler and Jesus just missed the cut.  Can you imagine anyone even bothering with this in the age of Photoshop?

Wherein I Actually Advocate Regulation and the Precautionary Principle

Can we please make sure no one is able to put an AI into this thing.   We definitely don't want it to become self-aware.

Things Are Getting Better All The Time

My New Favorite Creature

Sea Dragons! (larger versions at the link below the video)

Sea Dragons! from Warren Meyer on Vimeo.

If you need any extra encouragement to go to the Monterrey Aquarium some time, try these two jellyfish exhibits

Jellyfish from Warren Meyer on Vimeo.

Jellyfish 2 from Warren Meyer on Vimeo.

Extreme Weight Loss Program

Last week, when I posted that I was attending an extreme weight loss program in Las Vegas, it turned out to be a bit of a test to see if people actually clicked on the link.  I will post more later (I have a bid due today and am jamming on that) but here is a picture

Your humble correspondent is roughly in the center, heading at high speed towards a looming equal-and-opposite-direction-type disaster with the camera man.  It is all well and good to fully intellectualize the laws of mechanics in zero-g, and quite another to convince your body's motor control system to accept them.

The Myth of Past Cultural Integration

Virginia Postrel had the same reaction to Charles Murray's recent book that I had -- it's a myth to think that there was some sort of greater cultural integration in the 1950's than there is today.  Because, you know, Wally and the Beav had so many black kids at their school.

American Ingenuity

My college roommate and long-time beer pong adversary sent me this.

A and An. Random Thought of the Day

Someday, I need to look up how the actual rule for use of "a" vs. "an" is written.  Most people, including me, have always said that "an" is used in front of a vowel.  "This is an unusual task."  But this is not always true.  How about, "this is a useful item."  In this case, I suppose we use "a" because despite starting with a vowel, "useful" really starts with a "y" consonant sound, as in "you."

If You Need To Get Fired Up Today

Someone's Been Sleeping in My Bed... And He's Still There


I have tried to write this post several times but we are having some kind of Internet problem and I keep losing the post just before I get it finished.  Anyway, let's try again.

Yesterday my daughter was reading after school.  Like many freshman English classes, they are doing Greek mythology.  I was asking her questions about her day when she yelled at me, "dad, I have one more paragraph left in Sisyphus, just let me finish.  Every time you interrupt me I have to start over".  So of course I had to wait about ten seconds, just when I estimated she was about done, and I interrupted her again.  I kept doing this for a while, thinking it was simply hilariously apt.  Unfortunately, I don't think she

OWS and Philip Rearden

I have been reading a lot of the data flying around of late about income inequality and mobility.  And it struck me that income mobility may be a large part of what is driving many OWS protesters.

Despite assumptions to the contrary on the Left, wealth is not a zero-sum game.  Steven Jobs got richer by making me better off.  But the one thing that is zero-sum is presence in the top 1%.  When someone joins the club, someone, by operation of basic math, drops out.

That does not mean that the other person who drops out is poorer, it just means that they are no longer as rich relative to their peers.  This same effect works int he top 10% and 20%, etc.

Looking at OWS protectors, they seem to be disproportionately children of the upper middle class or even of the rich.  They have expensive college educations, live in nice homes, and have gobs of stuff (OWS must be the most iPhoned event in history).  My guess is that they are of the upper two quintiles, or at least their parents were.

I am wondering if the problem is not income inequality but too much income mobility.  After all, a third of the top two quartiles in 2001 had dropped into the bottom three in 2007 (while an equal number moved up). Are these the angry proletariat, or are they children of the well-off who are upset their college degree in puppetteering did not automatically keep them up with the Joneses?   Are they, in other words, Philip Rearden?


Reasons I Love the 1%

The 1% make many beautiful things possible in the world which the rest of us could not afford.  Yes we could celebrate the ballet and the opera and the symphony, none of which would likely thrive without the 1%, but today lets celebrate something a bit more material.  I will never own anything like this.  In fact, I would feel like a sucker if I paid the asking price for one.  But I still enjoy the fact that they exist and I can admire their beauty.

Subjunctive in English

I prefer "If I were a rich man" to "If I was a rich man", though apparently I am in the minority.  This despite the fact that someone who is as bad at proof-reading and litters his posts with grammatical and spelling mistakes cannot afford to be snooty about verb tense.

I vividly remember the year in Spanish when subjunctive verbs were introduced.  After slogging for years learning verb conjugation on all kinds of tenses, it came as a rude shock that there was an entire second set of parallel subjunctive verb conjugations.  Eeek. It was like completing your tool box after years of careful purchases, only to discover you needed a second set in metric.

I have forgotten most all the Spanish, but since then I remain fascinated by what, to my knowledge, is the only remaining subjunctive verb conjugation in routinely-used English.

Time for Some Individual Action in NY

Folks in the OWS neighborhood in NYC are fed up and want the city to kick out the protesters.  While they grow old waiting for that, I would suggest taking some individual action right out of the army psi-ops manual (actually, its also from a Sopranos episode).

  1. Find some big-ass speakers
  2. Find the biggest amp you can
  3. Place speakers in window, point out at park.
  4. Find the single most annoying recording you can, and play it at volume 11 .. over and over and over and over, day in and day out.  I might try "I'm turning Japanese" or maybe "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas."  Possibly the song they used to play over and over in FAO Schwartz stores, or "It's a small world."   Or maybe something like a Joel Osteen sermon.  It almost doesn't matter once its been repeated 12 times an hour for 3 days.