The lack of posts recently…

…has a very simple explanation. First, we had a big deadline at work. And now I’m on vacation. I may drop by with some vacation pictures, or I may not… but I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled procrastination, humor, and political repostings come April 5th.

Until then, and barring the odd vacation photo I may post here, be well.

Cool “round” numbers and the Unix Epoch

Via Lawrence You on the SSRC mailing list:

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday March 17, @01:38PM
from the everyone-make-balloon-animals dept.
initsix writes “Break out your party hats. According to , Unix time is supposed
reach 1111111111 on Fri, 18 Mar 2005 01:58:31 GMT That’s only 1036372537
seconds from 2^31 (ie Tue, 19 Jan 2038 03:14:08 GMT)!!”

i.e. 5:58 PM PST tonight

$ perl -e ‘print scalar localtime(1111111111), “\n”;’
Thu Mar 17 17:58:31 2005

A good trend for Democracy in America

I’m really quite pleased by the trend of politicians posting on blogs; I realize that those on the right will also be doing it, but the ones I’ve seen so far from the center-liberal side of things are refreshing — although I hesitate to use the term “left,” even for such worthies as Senator Feingold.

Case in point: today, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Washington) posted to the diaries on MyDD a very good discussion of our military situation, and the relation between weak recruiting and a little-publicized but odious provision of the “No Child LeftBehind” Act:

Section 9528, an Orwellian provision that takes money away from any school that denies military recruiters equal status with colleges and prospective employers, plus access to students’ home phone numbers. “Go after the unsuspecting and innocent and those easily impressed” — that seems to be the plan.

Charlie Rangel faced a Korean wartime draft and saw combat. I faced a Vietnam wartime draft and served as a military psychiatrist — deciding which trauma cases got returned to duty status. In the debate leading to this war, we introduced H.R. 163, a bill authorizing a military draft.

I am the last person who wants to see Americans drafted. (We both voted against H.R. 163 later that year.) The whole point was to raise awareness and force the Administation to face this war’s open-ended cost.

It wasn’t until I saw his later points that I realized who he was. Kudos to Congressman McDermott for embracing the new medium, and I sincerely hope that other politicians will follow.

It’s sorta depressing…

To realize just how much my brother is cooler than I am.

Then again, I’ve got my own blessings to count, but other than spending 10 years together with the best girlfriend and wife in the world (Hi Marie 🙂 ) I don’t think I could name 9 others things I’ve done that are coolinteresting enough to interest anyone elseexpect anyone else to want to read through them.

Addendum: Mearls refers to a “10 things I’ve Done and You Haven’t” meme – I guess it’s a LJ thing?

Geez I’m lame – another one of those quizlet things…

I am a d12

You are the rare, the overlooked, yet incredibly useful dodecahedron: the d12. You are a creative, romantic soul. You often act without thinking, but make up for your lack of plans with plenty of heart. You easily solve problems that stump others, but your answers tend to put you into even deeper trouble. You write long, detailed backgrounds for all your characters, and are most likely to dress up as one or get involved in cos-play. You can be silly at times and are easily distracted by your own day dreams, but are at the end of the day you’re someone who can be depended on.

Take the quiz at

And for the record, I have NEVER gotten involved in cos-play or larping. C’mon, tabletop RPG guys have to have SOMEBODY to look down on.

Gas price watch…

(This was a comment I placed on Eschaton, responding to a question about how much people spend on gasoline… thought it would be of interest here, if nothing else for me to get a laugh at in a few years)

My round trip commute is around 90 miles (SF – Cupertino for those who know the Bay Area), and at 30 actual miles per gallon that means I’m paying almost $7 per working day on gas at Bay Area prices ($2.21-$2.39/gallon for regular 87-octane this morning)

I plan to be looking for jobs closer to home at some point.

I’ve got a relatively fuel-efficient small car (Acura RSX), which gets about twice the actual MPG of my old SUV (it got only 15mpg, and it was non-4WD with the smaller V8) and about a 20% improvement over both of my prior small cars (a Chevy Cavalier and a Pontiac Fiero, both 4-cylinder models, both of which got around 25mpg in practice.)

The big name blogs are just FUNNY today…

From DailyKOS – Friday Night Snark: Focus on Your Own Damn Family

Through his parents, I have been granted access to the following excerpts from a log prepared by an individual I will identify only as “Todd”. Todd’s diary entries consist in large part of a series of reports intended for Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and tells the tragic story of… well, you shall see. I print this here so that others may be warned from Todd’s tragic fate. — Hunter

Go. Read it. Now.
Continue reading “The big name blogs are just FUNNY today…”

Next stop, Judgement Day…

Humanoids With Attitude: Japan Embraces New Generation of Robots

TOKYO — Ms. Saya, a perky receptionist in a smart canary-yellow suit, beamed a smile from behind the “May I Help You?” sign on her desk, offering greetings and answering questions posed by visitors at a local university. But when she failed to welcome a workman who had just walked by, a professor stormed up to Saya and dished out a harsh reprimand.

“You’re so stupid!” said the professor, Hiroshi Kobayashi, towering over her desk.

Cyber-receptionist Ms. Saya greets Hiroshi Kobayashi, her inventor, at the Tokyo University of Science. “She has a temper,” the professor cautions.

“Eh?” she responded, her face wrinkling into a scowl. “I tell you, I am not stupid!”

Via post “This totally creeps me out” on AMERICAblog.

There are still some good guys left in Washington…

OK, I realize this is not his main point in the piece, but I this bit from a new diary of Senator Feingold’s on MyDD really impresed me:

At a time in the country when we need free and open discourse, when the Senate is rubber stamping a bankruptcy bill which hurts those who have no power, when the country is involved in a war with no timetable for an exit strategy, we must be able to speak our minds without fear of recrimination from the government.

The main point, on the relationship of the blogosphere to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance act (BCRA) is worth reading too.

Link via the MyDD front page

As if we needed more reason to believe Wal-Mart was evil…

How does the number-one retailer maintain an image of low prices? First, by actually making sure its prices are lower than its competitors, at least on key items. These items are called “price-sensitive” items in the industry, and it is commonly believed that the average consumer knows the “going price” of fewer than 100 items. These tend to be commodities that are purchased frequently.
A mid-size Wal-Mart supercenter may offer for sale 100,000 separate items, or stock-keeping units (skus). Wal-Mart and other major retailers believe that the general public knows the going price of only 1 to 2 percent of these items. Therefore, each Wal-Mart store shops for the prices of only about 1,500 items in their competitors’ stores. If it is ever found that a competitor has a lower price on one of these items than Wal-Mart, the store manager will immediately lower his or her price to be the lowest in the area.

Price-sensitive merchandise is displayed in prominent places such as the kiosk at the entrance to the store, as well as on end caps, in dump bins, and in gondolas down the main aisles. Consequently, when Wal-Mart customers see the items of which they know the price, the ones always priced lower in Wal-Mart, they start assuming that everything else is also priced lower than at competing stores. This assumption is simply not true.

My barber has offered me a simple example. He sells a nonbreakable pocket comb for 25 cents that he procures from his vendor for eight cents. Wal-Mart sells a lower-quality comb for 98 cents, and one would assume that Wal-Mart pays less for it than the barber does. People keep buying Wal-Mart combs, however, because the average person does not know the going price of a pocket comb, and it is automatically assumed that the Wal-Mart price is the lowest.

Via MyDD

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