Archive for the 'Bloggishness' Category

TED talks

9 March 2009 at 11:14 pm
by Berck

Dave’s gotten me into watching the Ted talks. There’s something like 380 of them online so far. They vary wildly in quality, but the good ones are very good.

If you’ve got a free hour of time, here’s 3 that made me think. They are startlingly related, considering that it’s unlikely these three people set out to give related talks.

Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice.

Malcolm Gladwell on spaghetti sauce.

Dan Gilbert on happiness.

If you want to complain about something…

9 February 2009 at 11:03 am
by Berck

Then complain about the only ACTUAL campaign promise that Obama has broken thus far. I’m sure there will be many more, but this was was important to me, and I’m seriously annoyed.

Obama promised that we would all be able to review legislation on the white house website for 5 days *before* he signed it. Much of the crap the Bush administration did was signed into law before we ever got a chance to look at it, and Obama promised change. Thus far, Obama’s only signed one law into effect, and it wasn’t posted on the website until after he signed it.

Now, he’s poised to do the same thing again, though he’s promised that he does remain committed to enacting the policy, he just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. I’m not sure why it’s such a hard thing to do–it’s not like the SCHIP reform can’t wait 5 days. Instead, he’s published the Senate Bill. While that’s better than nothing, it’s bound to be different from the bill he signs into law, and we’re not going to have 5 days with it.

Does this really matter? Probably not, but Obama’s commitment to transparency is one of the biggest reasons I voted for him.

Why you should be afraid of the police

8 February 2009 at 12:01 pm
by Berck

Man’s minivan rammed, man arrested at gunpoint with his 3 kids in the back for an improper lane change.

Ryan Frederick was convicted of voluntary manslaughter on Thursday. He shot a police officer in self defense when the police, who failed to identify themselves in a “drug raid” (they didn’t find any drugs), broke into his house while he was sleeping in the wee hours of the morning. The police also shot at him, but later denied it, despite the evidence of bullet holes and shells collected by the police themselves that came from police rifles, not the handgun that Ryan Frederick possessed.

Here’s a guy whose dog was shot in another police raid. The police broke into his house silently, a precaution they say was necessary because they knew that the suspect was a legal gun owner. Apparently, knocking on someone’s door and shouting, “POLICE!” is a bad idea when you know someone has a gun. Instead, the police think that they should break into a gun owner’s house silently, because they’re less likely to get shot that way? The guy was not arrested and not charge with anything.

A town of 35,000 issues 40,000 traffic citations at one red light camera in the space of a year.

Here’s another botched police raid with two dead dogs, this time on a Maryland mayor.

How about a guy who was shot in his own driveway by the police for, as far as we can tell, driving to Jack in the Box.

This is a just a very, very small handful. It is highly unlikely that the police officers in any of these cases will be brought to justice. If you want more, check out Radley Balko’s site, The Agitator. Click on the “Police Professionalism” category, which has hundreds of these sorts of stories.

Balko, Phelps and Pot

1 February 2009 at 8:46 pm
by Berck


Red Feather Lakes

17 January 2009 at 11:27 pm
by Berck

I forgot to mention that pictures from the Red Feather Lakes trip are up in the gallery.

I had plenty of opportunity to blog last week, but I’ve been reading Anathem.

My first week off reserve in ORD was great. I had to pay for a night in a hotel room because my flight to Sioux Falls went without me. It left several hours late, but I was later because I was stuck in Birmingham, AL. The weather should be better next week.

My passport was going to expire on the 27th, so I had to renew it. For strange reasons, I’m required to have a passport with me at all times while I’m working. This meant I had to schedule an appointment, drive to the passport office in Denver, wait for them to make the passport, and then drive home. That took most of Friday, and $135. Mesa is contractually required to reimburse me, but they haven’t been very forthcoming about how they’re going to go about that so far.

For purely academic reasons, I’ve been researching how one might disable the RFID chips in the new passports. Everyone likes to suggest a hammer, but no one wants to specify where exactly one should aim the hammer. I’m wondering if driving over it with a car would work.

I saw an astonishing moon rise over an undercast last week. Probably the best I’ve ever seen. We were having some trouble figuring out what the light was until it got over the clouds.

Captain: What is that light?
Me: I dunno, Fort Wayne?
Captain: You think?
Me: No, I don’t think Fort Wayne is that bright.
Captain: Maybe aliens are landing on Fort Wayne.

I also got to experience -23° F in Sioux Falls. I’m pretty sure that’s the coldest temperature I’ve ever been exposed to. That’s crazy cold.

It’s been warm here, comparatively, at around 50°. We took the top off the blue car and went driving for a couple hours. That was nice. If it’s warm again tomorrow, maybe we’ll do it again, and/or hike as well.