Friday, November 30, 2007

More "race is stupid" notes...

My high school is number one in the US News and World Report index...not surprising at all. The surprising part to me is that the minority student enrollment percentage is reported as 4.5%. Hmmm...what do they mean by minority? Only "black and Hispanic". What about the other minorities (Native American, Romany, Blondes)? Minority is now a euphemism for only some minorities that...what? If you think about it, this label is making the truly racist assumption that "blacks and Hispanics" need to be tracked separately from other people. Why would that be?

I think people assume that because the average scores for some defined group of people are lower, there needs to some separate tracking of that group... This enables the racist assumption- that any one individual is going to be more like the median member of some group they belong to, than the median of the population as a whole. For example, since the median test scores of students in the US that have Chinese ancestry score are higher than the median for the population as a whole, one might falsely presume that any random Chines person is smarter than average. Of course, this would be wrong. The converse applies to groups whose median test scores fall below the median.

In any case, schools should stop reporting their "racial percentages". It doesn't really help anyone but racists who are looking to avoid specific races. We're all miscellaneous now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Book idea from search hit...

Someone out there is looking for nice introductory philosophy book, instead they found this stupid blog. ...and I'm still addicted to Google Analytics.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ronald Reagan, "Limited Mental Capacity"

What's up with Republicans not liking people that are smart? You have to admit they have become the anti-intellectual party...Bush Sr. not included (although you have to wonder why everyone kept calling the former head of the CIA a wimp).

Recent transcript excerpt:
President Nixon: What's your evaluation or Reagan after meeting him several times now.

Kissinger: Well, I think he's a--actually I think he's a pretty decent guy.

President Nixon: Oh, decent, no question, but his brains

Kissinger: Well, his brains, are negligible. I--

President Nixon: He's really pretty shallow, Henry.

Kissinger: He's shallow. He’s got no...he's an actor. He--When he gets a line he does it very well. He said, "Hell, people are remembered not for what they do, but for what they say. Can't you find a few good lines?" [Chuckles.] That's really an actor's approach to foreign policy--to substantive....

President Nixon: Back to Reagan though. It shows you how a man of limited mental capacity simply doesn't know what the Christ is going on in the foreign area.

Don't think too much!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tom Peters is with me!

Stop saying "Asian" campaign hits the international management consultant level:
Tom says: "Implication: Eliminate the use of terms such as 'Asia'—as in 'the Asian management style.' Eliminate: as in zero, none, never, naught, zip."

Now how long before we can get the ban extended to any "racist classification"?
How long before multiracial is everyone?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

John Maeda @ TED

Amazing John Maeda video from the TED conference. I've been pro-simplicity for a while, but I've been overly simplistic in my advocation.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Poverty is a relatively minor problem in the USA

While most sensible people agree that poverty is a matter of relativity- how well off you are compared to others, this brings it into high contrast. The number of the impoverished in India is something that sticks in my mind... This isn't to say that we shouldn't strive to make the lives of all people better, even ones that have TVs, but rather that the measure of success should not be equality. That said I took real a $10 flight in Pakistan (included one cup of imitation Kool-Aid!), this seems expensive!

via Marginal Revolution

An Indian entrepreneur has given a new twist to the concept of low-cost airlines. The passengers boarding his Airbus 300 in Delhi do not expect to go anywhere because it never takes off.

All they want is the chance to know what it is like to sit on a plane, listen to announcements and be waited on by stewardesses bustling up and down the aisle.

In a country where 99% of the population have never experienced air travel, the “virtual journeys” of Bahadur Chand Gupta, a retired Indian Airlines engineer, have proved a roaring success.

Friday, October 05, 2007

If Texas can...

How to drive down health care costs, the Texas way (courtesy NY Times):
Four years after Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment limiting awards in medical malpractice lawsuits, doctors are responding as supporters predicted, arriving from all parts of the country to swell the ranks of specialists at Texas hospitals and bring professional health care to some long-underserved rural areas.

The influx, raising the state’s abysmally low ranking in physicians per capita, has flooded the medical board’s offices in Austin with applications for licenses, close to 2,500 at last count.

Now, have the applications for the bar decreased? :-)

Why does this drive down costs? 1. Supply and Demand: More doctors = More supply, demand is somewhat inelastic (doesn't increase too much as a result of cost) 2. Lower costs (malpractice insurance) for doctors passed on to customers via market competition.

Now how do we get more doctors in total? How do we increase supply? Maybe if there is less money to be made in the lawsuit industry there are some smart people that will want to be doctors....

Now, if we combine this with lower drug costs via negotiation and a reduction in prescriptions- maybe there is enough money to start extending health care to more people across the world.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


did this just become my favorite song?

"It's a Rave Dave" by Trash Fashion
I prefer the JE 2 Grade 8 Remix, but this will do...

(Almost hesitating to use the music tag here...)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'll follow you

...into the dark. Happy to be alive. Sad life is short. Is death the best part of life? Is it what gives it the urgency an endless life would lack?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Race is Racist : Everything is Miscellaneous

Listened to David Weinberger's talk @Google. (see below)

It really connects with some thoughts I've been having about how the whole concept of race is racist. There are no biological meanings to it, it's just a human way of trying to bring groups of people together against others. Tribal status is dependent on identifying tribes is how Ray Immelman would describe it.

Weinberger relates a fascinating anecdote of a South African whose "Race" changed 4 times over his life, as the laws of apartheid labeling black and white changed, forcing him to end his marriage as it violated the law when his race changed.

How can Asian be a race? It seems incredibly racist to label Asians as one race in the US. Are people from Lebanon, China, and India related somehow? It's a useless label.

What about the "mixed race" people? What bubble do they fill in? The whole thing makes me sick.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Don't believe it...

"Don't believe it, 'cause it's never happy hour again".

I think I have enjoyed about 10% of happy hours. I don't even think an hour is enough time for me to get happy. Maybe the problem is that an hour isn't enough time for me to get drunk and not sick.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

We must remain silent = STFU?

LOLCATS + Tractatus Logico Philosophicus = Ridiculous

Friday, August 17, 2007

How old am I?

Wishing for autumn to begin makes me feel old. When you're young, you just want summer to last forever. You want to savor the last burning days of August, the last days of freedom. Question marks and blanks of our own design.

Still, the damp that follows the rains that are breaking our drought makes me wistful for a slight chill, a noisy windbreaker shielding me from the world.

It's a Belle and Sebastien day in my head. Must often feel like I am dreaming of in Scotland. But then it gets too cold, we get buried in down, we want the burn again. The simple rhythmic cycle.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I can't believe this is happening...

They can't get a court order? That's total BS. This could lead to serious abuse of power.

Looking for the golden mean

Aristotle [butchered and summarized]:
For any X where doing X is good, doing too much of X is bad, and doing too little of X is bad too. Aim for the golden mean.

Thanks alot 'stot. This is basically an empty statement, the hard bits come in determining what is too much and what is not enough.

I think I'll have another drink anyway.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Good stuff on Stuff

Sometimes I feel like I have too much stuff, but I am generally bad, okay, seriously bad, at getting rid of things. I am particularly attached to my collection of spare computer and electronics cables. Paul Graham has no sympathy for me.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

La Costa Brava

"La Costa Brava" by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists is an inspiring coding song for some reason. Maybe that's where I want to be?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Oh my god, it's ginormous

I can't believe the Brits had a dictionary of Military Slang in 1948.

It was a ginormous year for the wordsmiths at Merriam-Webster. Along with embracing the adjective that combines "gigantic" and "enormous," the dictionary publishers also got into Bollywood, sudoku and speed dating.

But Merriam-Webster traces ginormous back to 1948, when it appeared in a British dictionary of military slang. And in the past several years, its use has become, well, ginormous.

[via the AP]

That is a terrible "joke" at the end there. Just terrible. The whole AP enhanced levity style for novelty articles is thoroughly annoying.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Nice Graph in the Economist

Not that I care in the least, it's just more BS politics.

All these dudes seem so sad to me, trotting around, begging to be liked. Begging for money. I just wish they would focus on fixing the country, and leave all the people that live in it alone...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

If you have time to watch the news...

(and I don't have time) watch ABC. Gary Langer is a thinker!

These aren't mere quibbles. I've reported previously on misreporting of scientific data in studies on subjects as disparate as autism, parenting and even naps. Whatever the subject, as studies like these enter the discourse through credible media sources they can influence our thinking and ultimately inform public policy. In deciding whether and how to report them, we need first to check them out in detail, as we do any other alleged news that comes in over the transom. As newspeople, that's our job. Or should be.

Wow, someone is actually examining the stupid statistics we are constantly barraged with? This is amazing.

via Freakonomics

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


This "bong hits 4 jesus" case was so sketchy. Schools are public institutions, they should not impose on such harmless, if retarded, speech. This just sucks for freedom.

[via boingboing]

Monday, June 18, 2007

Africa- We're Making it Worse

via Spiegel via Marc Andressen
The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good.
Shikwati: Why do we get these mountains of clothes? No one is freezing here. Instead, our tailors lose their livelihoods. They're in the same position as our farmers. No one in the low-wage world of Africa can be cost-efficient enough to keep pace with donated products. In 1997, 137,000 workers were employed in Nigeria's textile industry. By 2003, the figure had dropped to 57,000. The results are the same in all other areas where overwhelming helpfulness and fragile African markets collide.

This hit me like a pound of diamonds. We're destroying African markets with free crap. Let's build factories there instead- and then the people get the benefits of the infrastructure the factories require. Again, it's not that aid to Africa is bad, it's just that what we give them makes their economies worse. Ooops.

The World is not Flat

I've been listening to the "World is Flat" by Friedman. There are some interesting anecdotes in the text, but the whole metaphor really bothers me. He does such a build up for it and then repeats it over and over again, but it never really makes sense. Perhaps I am just being overly literal?

In any case, the point is really that location is not as important as it used to be. Many things can be made anywhere. It always boggled my mind that it was cheaper to make something overseas and ship it here than to make it here, simply because of cheaper labor. The new outsourcing, where "knowledge work" can be done anywhere, actually seems to make much more sense, as knowledge can be shipped for a very low cost...culture appears to be shipped easily as well, as "Creative Destruction: Globalization Changing Cultures" by Tyler Cowen points out. There is definitely a trend for individuals to belong to global cultural movements and less to local/regional movements.

So why is labor cheaper elsewhere? Supply and demand is the obvious cause, more supply elsewhere. Cost of living is a big factor as well though, as is standard of living. It's clear that a person considered poor in the US is generally satisfied at the basic level, with shelter, running water and food. The more surprising part is that they also often have electricity, appliances, and televisions. It is clear that poverty is merely a relative term. Would an unemployed person be better off moving to a country with a lower cost of living? Probably yes from a raw numbers perspective and from a perspective of increasing their relative status.

So given all of this, wouldn't it be best to move somewhere cheap and live a rich life? Apparently not, as this survey points out:
"A luxury two-bedroom in Moscow now rents for $4,000 a month; a CD costs $24.83, and an international newspaper, $6.30, according to Mercer. By comparison, a fast food meal with a burger is a steal at $4.80."
There is still a lot of local culture and the experience of place to soak up.

Some places are better than others...I want to be location independent, but where would I go? Everywhere better than "here" costs even more, and location independent work goes to the lowest cost of living places with adequate labor supply. A conundrum.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Striking article on cause of the USSR's demise

Their economic collapse was largely brought on by the mid 80s drop in oil prices. Thanks Saudi Arabia! It's kinda funny, but I was living in Texas at the time, and the drop in oil prices caused all kinds of problems there. There were so many strip malls constructed near me that were completely without occupants. Houses wouldn't sell. Fortunately, we had plenty of grain.

Anyway, this puts in perspective a lot of the ridiculous claims that Ronald Reagan somehow brought down the USSR by running up our debt.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Great indie list by

they're not bad at this...

Built to Spill – Just A Habit just listened
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – In This Home On Ice 4 minutes ago
Pavement – Perfume-V 8 minutes ago
The New Pornographers – Jackie, Dressed in Cobras 10 minutes ago
Sufjan Stevens – Sister 13 minutes ago
TV on the Radio – Blues From Down Here 19 minutes ago
The Microphones – The Moon 24 minutes ago
The Magnetic Fields – Strange Powers 29 minutes ago
The Unicorns – Emasculate the Masculine 32 minutes ago
Neutral Milk Hotel – The Fool 36 minutes ago

Friday, June 01, 2007 now part of CBS "Media Empire"

A great buy for CBS. is (was?) really great. They needed money in the wake of the recent evil copyright decision where record labels get paid more for internet airplay than for radio airplay. (makes NO sense!) $280M should cover that.

Anyway, I added a little widget to the blog which is over to the right. I haven't done much "scrobbling" so it's not exactly a top songs list like you'd see in my itunes.

I am thinking about changing the name, location etc. of this little gem of a blog. There aren't that many readers, but I love them all dearly, so I am reluctant to move it and then have no readers. However, I recently discovered a wash dc band (a capella group actually) that "stole" the name staticflow, so it is now dead to me. dead i tell you...

Anyway, check out before CBS pulls any shenanigans with it. You can choose to be my friend on there (I am called "staticvars") and then we can recommend silly songs to each other. Won't that be nice? Happy scrobbling!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Lots of posts in draft (still- I am sucking at writing lately) but here is something that caught my interest:

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails lets rip at ignorant record labels for charging $10 more for his disc-

Why is this the case?" He goes "Because your packaging is a lot more expensive". I know how much the packaging costs -- it costs me, not them, it costs me 83 cents more to have a CD with the colour-changing ink on it. I'm taking the hit on that, not them. So I said "Well, it doesn't cost $10 more". "Ah, well, you're right, it doesn't. Basically it's because we know you've got a core audience that's gonna buy whatever we put out, so we can charge more for that. It's the pop stuff we have to discount to get people to buy it. True fans will pay whatever". And I just said "That's the most insulting thing I've heard. I've garnered a core audience that you feel it's OK to rip off? F--- you'. That's also why you don't see any label people here, 'cos I said 'F--- you people. Stay out of my f---ing show. If you wanna come, pay the ticket like anyone else. F--- you guys". They're thieves. I don't blame people for stealing music if this is the kind of s--- that they pull off.

Saw the link on AlternateIdea

I knew the ol' Rezzer was a proper geez from the first, back in say, 1990. 17 years ago. Makes my head hurt.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What is emo???

Have you ever wondered what "emo" is? I found it amusing...the whole concept is one of those things that makes me feel old. I was emo before there was emo! Or something.

[pic is Dashboard Confessional dude- emo!]

Getting all twittery

Follow along at:

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More failure

Just read page one of Mind Set, by Carol Dweck.

It's basically a Kings of Convenience lyric, made into a psych book.

"Fail-ure is the best way to learn."

So why do we fear it?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

In Twee Wee Tryst

Just about everything from waah/bring on bull is now downloadable. These guys were a sort of 2nd division UK label in the 1990s along the lines of Sarah records. Delicate stuff, it's really cool.

While I am writing this I am watching The Merlin Show and he just said "email bukake" to Chris Wetherell.

While I was looking up Chris's url for the above link, I just saw this post about names of wifi nodes on his way to work. We had a similar experience running around our building at work. "I hate everyone in this building" was one of our favorites, although I think "Penis Pain" was probably the popular choice for best/worst network name. Mine is a unintelligible string of characters.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Mad Chopstix Skillz

Saw this on Make advocating long tweezers. Learn to use chopsticks already...they're not just for sticky rice. I've used them for retrieving tiny screws that fall into inconvenient places under the motherboard, places where my Mr. Magneto screwdriver was not working.

I know some people believe that chopsticks are inferior to the "barbarian" fork, but they really come into their own in precision work. I will admit that they have certain failings when used for Jello or the odd heavy item...but I guess my actual favorite thing about Asian food is that it comes pre-cut- no knives out on the table. Just tweeze and eat. Yumalazious.

DRM is dying

Yes, dying I tell you, dying! It's actually almost safe to get back on the iTunes Music Store again. Now I just need to get my Tivo to play AAC (too much pain to always convert to mp3), or buy one of those apple tv things so I can enjoy the entertainments on my hi-fi.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fools' Day

April fools day on the internet completely fails to be interesting or funny to me anymore, it's completely predictable and lame. Even this.

I think everyone should take a few years off, maybe it would seem fresh again. Probably not though, it's just a dumb idea.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


You know you're living in a girlie house when you can do an entire load of pink laundry every week. All pink. Seriously.

Nothing against pink here. Love pink. Still, I was tickled some other color when our pal Emily sent us a kickin' black onesie with a Dolly Parton image on it. Take that pink princess party palace!

Somehow the whole pink thing is kind of nuts. My wife has some pals whose husbands freak out about the possibility of their sons wearing pink. Completely mad, they are. Now, I don't actually have a son, but if I did, he would definitely be wearing whatever pink hand-me-downs his sister left for him. What's the worst that could happen??? And why is that worse?

Merlin's 5ives

Why is this stuff so funny to me? WHY?

Merlin's lists of 5ives.

Five ideas I’ve had for family theme restaurants
November 13th, 2006

1. B.F. Skinner’s Original Stuffers - The poultry skin of your choosing is stuffed with a la carte selections from “th’ fixin’s bar,” deep fried to a golden brown, and served with your choice of fun “Dippin’” sauces.
2. Bobby B. Butterworth’s Old Fashioned Dairy Funshack - A frozen quarterpound stick of salted creamery butter is hand-battered, “flash fried,” and served with your choice of fun “Dippin’” sauces.
3. Long John Silvers’ “Dripper” Hut - Offshoot of the fast-food seafood franchise offers “mini-buckets” of their leftover fried shortening flecks, served with your choice of fun “Dippin’” sauces.
4. Mouth Meat Mel’s - 450ยบ pizza — sure to immediately scald the roof of your mouth — is served with your choice of fun “Dippin’” sauces. (note: first-time members of “The Mel’s Mouth Meat Makers” receive a colorful “I damaged the delicate tissues of my mouth at Mel’s!” adhesive ribbon)
5. Dippin’ Dippin’ Dippin’! - The “Dippin’” sauce of your choice is served with your choice of fun “Dippin’” sauces.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Royksopp, Melody A.M.

Apparently this album has risen to #503 on the Amazon Charts on the basis of the "GEICO Caveman Commercial" that features "Remind Me". So, it's not cool to like anymore, and I am selling my copy that features a bonus disk of remixes and videos. If the above link doesn't work, someone has snapped it up at a bargain price.

Seriously though, this is the album that introduced me to the stylings of Erlend Oye. I skipped Kings of Convenience when I read the reviews, because I don't really like Simon & Garfunkel. But then it turns out that I do like the KoC.

The brilliant new era of sampling music online has made me a much happier person.

*My daughter calls commericials "commercinals"- we TiVo everything, so she doesn't see many and gets very excited when they do come on.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

You can't find this anywhere

I think concept blogs are better than random "personality (or lack thereof)" blogs like this schlumpf you are reading at this very moment for some reason unknown to me. Dalston Oxfam Shop is one such blog. The genius behind this one grabs a tape from the cheapo bin at the Dalston Oxfam shop and makes and mp3, plus commentary and a scan of the cover. As usual, I am late on this one, as an awesome post was featured on the BBC on Oct 26- however I didn't happen to be listening to radio 6 at that moment. I didn't even know there was a BBC Radio 6. Reminds me of ESPN 8 "el ocho" from the dodgeball movie. Anyway, it clears up some of the mystery about where taxi music used to come from. In case anyone was wondering.

Rock on.

Quiet is how I like it

December was a month to why have I forgotten?

I have been awash in the world of mp3 blogs and music. For too long, I have been living basically in silence. I have purchased nearly 1000 albums in various forms- CD, cassette, vinyl, the hideous AAC itunes format which is going to kill your cat, etc. I have now realized, I don't like the silence, I just want the quiet. Loud music is great when you are trying to make your life more exciting. When you live in a world that is too loud- children screaming and other family disturbances, work, cars and buses and trucks, the constant whirring hum of fans...I just needed some quiet sounds. I am thinking about Kings of Convenience here. It's the medicine for whatever it is that's wrong with me- and something definitely is wrong. If you listen to the Erlend Oye DJ-Kicks album and don't like it, I am sorry. If you already have, I am just a late to the game guy on this. But really, it is something that everyone has to listen to, because if you like it, it could change your life, or something, maybe.

To get started with the new way to find music, or to have it find you- you check out a blog like fluxblog(nyc) or indie mp3(uk). It's music writing, with a twist, you get to hear the music. If you like the song, you can buy the album. Then you find the hype machine- a blog aggregator that collects link from across the galaxy of blogs into a playable stream.

There's so much going on.