Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Friday, December 04, 2015

Comedy both big and small

Two of my favorite moments from two of the greats
... and a lesser known but beloved writer/performer on Conan: Brian McCann

Blinding headlights

I have especially sensitive night vision (I actually wear those ridiculous yellow, anti-glare over-glasses) so the ultra-bright headlights are *especially* annoying to me.  Still, I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Selling your privacy, buying theirs

I found this really painful: rich people using their influence to keep their privacy when they made their riches on buying and selling other people's privacy. The irony is bitter. I realize that when you're rich the rules really are different (for good and bad), but it's hard to escape how hipocritical it is. That privacy is only important if and only if one has money is a dangerous preceedent and a very slippery slope.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Yet another shooting with 9 dead.

There's a story background but this particular quote from a Chicago Tribute article unfortunately sums it up:

The sheriff has been vocal in opposing state and federal gun-control legislation. In 2013, Hanlin sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden after the shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school, declaring that he and his deputies would refuse to enforce new gun-control restrictions "offending the constitutional rights of my citizens."

Also thought what the President had to say was a worthwhile read.

To fight the general sense of impotence around this topic, you might want to donate to someone who got shot trying to help.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Conan: blues songs with kids

A rather simple idea yields some of the best work I've seen from late night in a while.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Some analysis of global warming trends

... from Bloomberg.  If nothing else it's a great data analysis tool and it's views like this that scientists will be watching closely in the years ahead.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

It's fake, we all know it's fake, and why that's bad

An article written in the same over-the-top style it's criticizing, but a lot of the comments here are spot on.  Maybe that's the point.

"Political coverage that ignores actual policy in favor of gauging public perception and election prospects often is called "horse race journalism" for treating politics as a pure competition, the only goal of which is electoral victory. That's a pretty apt descriptor of how this stuff gets covered, except in one respect. The reporters who cover actual horse-racing have the dignity and professional pride not to grant phony import and stature to an early show that sprints out of the gate but has no chance of hanging around to decide the outcome. The reason is pretty simple: They value not making themselves look like craven f--king idiots. Maybe that's why they cover farm animals running in a circle, rather than presidential campaigns."

Short version: giving time and energy to a fake candidate is cynical, empty, and ultimately bad for an honest media that's necessary to facilitate productive elections and thereby a stable government.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Free speech isn't easy

Some interesting thoughts on free speech from Bill Maher.  I'll admit recently falling into the gap on this topic myself.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Movies that could do it better

Two great videos that solidify and underline a lot of disconnected thoughts I've had on digitial effects and the way fighting is portrayed.  I wish they would have mentioned every Borne Identity sequel, which were all a step down from the original.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Some excellent statements on politics from Penn Jillette

What looked like a topical goof turned into something really remarkable and interesting from someone I usually don't associate with insight around a democracy.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Message from before the grave

Robert Smith (of the band The Cure) was responsible for a big piece of my childhood.  I'd always read that he lied his ass off during interviews, constantly claiming that the band was about to break up so no one ever believed what he said.  Although it seemed like a terrific response to the inanity of celebrity, I didn't bother ever encountering him in anything beyond music.  Then by chance I see a remarkably sweet, gentle, and honest interview with someone that's had a huge impact on who I am.

It was a really amazing thing to see something of the root of someone else that built some of me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Unreal bad political move

State Rep. Bill Chumley loves changing the subject in the middle of a really important conversation.

This just happened so I'm a little light on perspective but I really, really hope this guy resigns fucking immediately.  This notion that John McClane from Die Hard is going to bust through the window and kick some ass is a disturbing and goofy fantasy.  This is a bunch of people facing a gunman in a church.  Different people react different ways to death starring them in the face.  I have no idea how I'd react and I'm have little doubt Bill has no idea either.  Not to mention this is the wrong time to ask that question.  What an ass.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

No Vicodin

All my life I've known exactly one person who was addicted to "real" drugs of the class of coke, heroin, etc.  Meanwhile I've known 4 different people with serious (two of them life-threatening) issues around doctor-prescribed opiates.  In the absence of being able to share my own stories, I found this.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A very different kind of "How I Met Your Mother"

Little background: so basically a video series came together 4 years ago where the idea was to do a video series on stories and ideas that parents come up with.  They'd be acted out by some student actors based on the ideas and they'd just see where it went.  Some were funny, some were odd, some were just plain odd

This one (definitely the best) gets you in the feelers.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Organized crime and the police

You might not agree with the conclusions of this article on the Federal investigation of Fergusuon, but it's difficult to hear some of the evidence presented without drawing similar conclusions: a group based on money, a victim group targeted for revenue, and a gang of thugs that maintain the flow.

It's not terribly different from organized crime, which -- interesting note -- is also very racist.  Whether the mafia and Italians or yakuza and Japanese, you can't be a member if you're not genetically "superior" and it's harder to be a victim when you're one of the in-group.

Or a more amusing take.

Entertainment for rent

This article starts with the dumbest of headlines "milenilas don't buy things" and, as almost every article on Milenials takes a little data and makes some tedious "they're totally different" conclusions.  Thankfully here we get to dig further into maybe the deepest of concepts I've seen in a while: the notion around a death of ownership.

I've struggled with ownership as I try to buy MP3s or movies: I'm constantly frustrated I don't have the room, a way to track it, a way to catalog it, etc.  Worse, my tastes change over time and I have a ton of stuff I no longer care about. For example, neither NIN nor the Deftones resonate with me and my efforts to get and catalog all that (formerly) great material is for naught. I have a TON of digital media and it's getting harder to put ANYWHERE. You of course can't sell it, just delete it if you don't care anymore and then only if you've run out of space on your drive.

Companies and consumers are increasingly renting out access to a catalog (Netflix, Spotify) that's much more intelligent and easier to manage. Plus, everyone gets paid where, with my system, sometimes the content makers don't have an easy way to get money for their work.

[Note: an earlier version of this article was obviously rushed and haphazard.  It has since been cleaned up.]

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Samantha Bee leaves the Daily Show

Easily my favorite correspondent and the best part of that show.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

How to deal with really difficult topics

Samantha Bee of the Daily Show helps us manage when things get tough.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Overview of compost

I've been trying to get some time to write up a lengthy article on some of the composting work I've been doing on the side, but in the meantime here's a great article on the topic (thanks Silver).

This goes into a lot of outdoor tools for composting but there are tons of great indoor ones.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Ghost in the Shell soundtrack by Kenji Kawai - live

With some of the news surrounding a live action version of what many consider some of the best to come form Japanese anime, a few more things from the original film are showing up.  I caught this bit from the music accompanying the film.  I don't know if you have to be a fan of the original, but I was amazed by the tremendous live performance.  Just awe-inspiring.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to email

So much of my job is email and so many messages get sent inside my company that it's very easy to get your message lost.  It's the first thing I try to spend time with new employees on.

So here's an ultra simple breakdown that unfortunately people at my company would really benefit from, and a more advanced "10 habits" format article.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mechanics hate him!

Drawing from the rationale behind many anti-vaccination proponents, an argument has been crafted against the evils of brakes on cars.

I'm convinced.

Monday, February 09, 2015

"Protect" Internet Freedom

An anti-net neutrality video packed with suggestions that once the government starts regulating the Internet, there's no end to it.  When really it's just Comcast who wants to charge extra for high bandwidth services.

Just look at the number of dislikes and the fact that the comments are disabled.  Or (at least at the time of this posting) check out all the people who signed the petition (scroll way down).

Thursday, February 05, 2015

How to go to outdoor shows - Part 1: Possessions

Background: The first in a series of my system for going to shows, usually of the outdoor or late night variety.  I've been to probably 50+ at this stage and have refined it to a process.

What to take

Keep items in your pocket to an absolute minimum. A $20, some $1s for a vending machine, and your ID. I wouldn't even take my wallet. Make sure keys are attached to you in some format (D-ring /  or whatever).

Take a cheapy flashlight of some kind with you. SO many times I've been in some dark area and someone dropped something and phone light was just NOT enough to see it. Or stuck in some back hallway or a dance floor where you just couldn't see anything. A flashlight is a great signal to get people to move out of the way if you need to leave quickly and it's also a great way to get the staff's attention if something's genuinely wrong (e.g. someone passes out or gets a bloody nose on the dance floor).

If you must take a weapon of any kind, make sure it's of the very small variety e.g. a tiny Swiss Army knife things with a blade that's as low key as possible. Ideally carry something that looks like a pen.

: Part 2: Dress