What’s your line?

No, this is not about a game show. This is about the thickness of your pen’s line. Do you like a fine line, medium, or bold? (I know someone will say pencils are the way to go but my response to that is. Lead poisoning.) Here in the Rising Sun place it seems 0.5 mm is quite common. I just bought some 0.28 mm ones so I could write some detailed Chinese characters. Mitsubishi Pencil Uni Style Fit ones for those keeping track.

Have any of you been to a Japanese stationery store? They have some wonderful stuff. Part of this is that Japan was such a handwriting culture. To write things in such detail they needed good paper with good pens and pencils. Recently there is a trend to make your own multi-color pen by buying the refills to put into a separately bought holder.

How many of you even write by hand anymore? Is everything on a PDA/phone now?

6+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Why of Course

The news media likes to say that college educated people skew to Democrats. This gives the impression that uneducated people are not wise enough to see their “enlightenment”. This is not the case as much as the universities are bubbles of Democrats. They are microcosms of failed policies of government largesse. It is getting to the point that “college educated” is an oxymoron.

Example: AOC

I think Peter Thiel has it right. He pays people to not go to college so they can get an education.

5+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Why do we put off what we “want” to do?

I find life interesting. That is why I like this site so much. I was on a call talking about ewe and about good wethers. There are few places that you can talk about animal “wifery” in between the politics. (Or is the word now animal “parentry”?)

Okay, I am putting off the subject that I really want to write about. I really want to write about it but the other thing seemed more interesting. And the main subject might require work. Can we talk about bellwethers for a while?

Back to life. We seem to live in two temporal worlds. We are in the now and the preparing for the future. Our wants conflict. What we want now is different than what we want in the future. That is a poor way to put it. Our wants now conflict with the wants in the future. For example if we want to be slim we can’t eat anything we want now. But people do and still say they want to be slim. Can one really be honest and say you want something while one is doing the opposite of the things to get it?

Getting to the title, it seems we like to put off things that are productive. We wait as if more time makes things better. Deadlines are our lifelines to get some things done. They force us often to do things we want to do but would rather put off. Good people know when they are saying I want X in the future means I give up Y in the present. They order their wants. Do you do this? How do you handle wants?

Hey, I am at the end of my post. That wasn’t too painful, was it?

0

A Study in Fake News

A friend and former colleague sent me a link to the following brief article: A Strong Start to Sierra Snowpack. It purports to be a factual report of the water situation in California. Such stories are always interesting for the things they leave out: the dog that didn’t bark.

Start with the title. Since the snowpack is already above the normal peak, which is referenced to April (seasonal peak), it would be more accurate to say that the snowpack is already well above average for the whole season though it’s still only February. That’s more than a strong start. Furthermore, though the 2017-2018 year was below average, the prior year was well above average. Together, they were about average.It is in the nature of snowfall to fluctuate from year to year.

Next, the article states that “…most of the reservoirs are already more than half-full, and several have water levels that are above the historical average for the middle of February.” It would be more accurate to write that all the reservoirs but one are at or above the historical average for February. The exception is Oroville, which is low because of a major structural failure two years ago. Furthermore, all of the reservoirs are more than half full, which is also misleading because it’s not normal for them to ever be full. Should they ever be almost full, the headline would be “Reservoirs Nearly Full: Flooding Crisis Looms” since they would need to release large amounts of water, which could raise downstream rivers to flood stage.

This 300-word article manages to pack in a tremendous amount of misinformation, brought to you by NASA. This brings to mind the Gell-Mann amnesia effect, or in more modern parlance, fake news. Also relevant is Mencken’s observation  that

Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

I would only change the last half to read “…the whole aim of practical media is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

Snow is forecast for tomorrow and Thursday in the Sierra.

4+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Mini Movie Review: Little Forest a Bright Spot in a Dark Winter

Movie recommendation: I’m watching a beautiful movie on Prime called Little Forest, cheering fare for dark winter evenings. A young woman returns to her rural roots, a Korean farming village, for reasons she can’t fully explain except that she was “hungry” after all the pre-packaged city food. In the gentle plot, she searches for her mother, reconnects with old friends, and cooks lots and lots of comfort food. We are treated to scenes of bubbling pots, steaming soups, and delicate vegetables sautéed at high heat. Much of the action in this movie consists of characters sitting down to eat the lovely concoctions, which is somehow very satisfying. As the cozy winter turns to spring and vivid summer, the viewer is served crisp, colorful scenes of local plant and animal life. All this combined with charming actors and script create a sumptuous work of art.

What delectable edibles have you discovered amongst the garbage of Netflix and Prime?

3+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Colors

I was making up some memory notes for my Chinese character review. I started out with a black ink pen and then thought this is two boring. It will put me to sleep. I then decided to get use some pens with different color ink that I have. It makes a world of difference.

Colors are such and aid to viewing things quickly and easily. They are processed fast in our brains. Just think of a traffic signal. Isn’t it great that we have a red, yellow, and green to give us the stop, caution, and go. It can be seen in a distance and understood. Words could be confused.

How often do you use color for sorting or making notes? If you do how do use the colors? Do you ever use different color post-its or paper? Have you ever thought of using colors in this way?

2+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar

How is this possible?

The Cuvier’s beaked whale spend on average two minutes at the surface between dives but can do the following.

From this article.

The new data showed the whales’ deepest dives extend more than 4,500 feet beneath the ocean surface. Deep dives can last two to three hours. The whales dive continuously, with deep dives followed by a few shorter dives, averaging 1,000 feet.

Now I consider that some serious holding of one’s breath. That is some serious pressure. How does not the water get into things? Is blubber really that good at dealing with pressure? Do they close their eyes?

H/T Instapundit.com

4+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Who are you?

How do you see yourself or how do you identify yourself?

Does your race matter to you? If so why? If not why?

Are you your job?

Or you your family?

Or you your religion?

Are you defined by your sexual orientation?

I live in a culture that makes me stick out. I am the foreigner or the American. I don’t think of that as prejudice as much as the easiest way to define me. That comes with stereotypes both good and bad. (We all have to deal with those who we get grouped with.)

I think groups that have an ax to grind focus more on their group identity than those who don’t. They are looking for solutions to problems and it is easy to see that problem as not accepting whatever group they are part of. How much of this is true is another thing? They say even paranoid people have enemies.

I think society is on a pendulum at times. It swings between two extremes. Or I think Luther said this, “A person falls off a horse on the right then gets on it to fall on the left.” That is to say in fixing problems people create new ones. Specifically, feeling good about your identity is good as long as it is not used to make others feel bad.

The question that plagues us is when does a behavior become an identity. Or when can we say a behavior is bad and needs to be changed? What has been happening is people change the definition to fit what they like. “I am a poached egg.” is looked at as “Good, follow who you are.” rather than “You need help.”

Just to have some fun, should we have a census form for Ratburg? What should be on the form?

3+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Car Sharing in Japan

Sorry this is all in Japanese. I think even in Japanese one can follow the logic of the system. This is the way young people use cars now. The video has the car rental from about $2 an hour per 15 minutes. (Oops! I should have double check this.) There are 30 types of cars to choose from.

  1. Make a Reservation
  2. Pick up a car.
    1. Use a card to open the car door
    2. Get the car key from the glove box
  3. Go to a gas station or a car wash if needed. The gas or car wash is charged to the rental company.
  4. If you need to, you can extend your rental time by selecting extension on the car’s GPS system.
  5. Return the car.
  6. If you forget something in the car you can open the car’s door just one more time to get it out. (I guess they only allow for one forget.)
4+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Hoaxed

Mike Cernovich’s documentary Hoaxed was recently released on Vimeo, where you can view the trailer and rent the film for $5. It is a comprehensive review of the news media bias through the experiences of Jordan Peterson, Scott Adams, Stefan Molyneux, James O’Keefe, and Cernovich himself. These are likely familiar names to most of you but lest you think that only one side of the political divide is represented, filmaker Cassie Jaye, Vice journalist Tim Poole, and BLM activist Hawk Newsome are also featured. Sharyl Attkisson is quoted extensively, though she’s not credited as a cast member.

Among the key points made in the film are

  • The current business model of news departments requires them to be profit centers, whereas in the past they were loss leaders for newspapers or TV networks. This means that controversy is more important than accuracy.
  • Mainstream journalists rarely do much traditional reporting. Instead, they read each other’s tweets and articles. “A lot of people who claim they are journalists are just repeaters.” In the words of a historian at UT Austin, “they [journalists] seem to play a game of telephone.”
  • Independent news is a significant and growing challenge to the mainstream media. While the legacy media once had a monopoly on the tools of news gathering and reporting, independent journalists can use new technology (GoPros, smart phones) to cover events as well or better at a negligible cost in comparison.
  • Fake news is not new. The film describes New York Times reporter useful idiot Walter Duranty’s lies about the Soviet Union and, in particular, about the Holodomor. “The biggest headcount [bodycount] for fake news is Communism.” There’s a similar, more recent example from NBC News about North Korea.
  • The term “fake news” gained popularity in the immediate wake of the 2016 election, promoted by the MSM (see graph below), but immediately successfully turned against them by Trump.

The film is well made, with high production values. It is engaging, not a boring recitation of facts. As documentaries go, this is an exciting one. Highly recommended.

Google searches for fake news
10+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

“Green New Deal”

Alexandria Occasional-CortexRepresentative Alexandria Occasional-Cortex has been prattling on for some time about a “Green New Deal”.  Today she, along with Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, introduced a bill [PDF] (not yet assigned a number), for a House Resolution “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal”.  Accompanying the resolution is a Frequently Asked Questions [PDF] document.

These, particularly the FAQ, are hilarious.  The House Resolution is basically a statement of goals without any details about how they are to be achieved.  The FAQ goes a tiny bit deeper into the nitty gritty (or, more precisely, the fanatic fantasy) of what is intended.  At least you can’t fault it for not being ambitious.

Upgrade or replace every building in US for state-of-the-art energy efficiency.

Every.  Building.  In.  America.  In ten years.  Well, at least a sense of realism creeps in elsewhere.

We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast, but we think we can ramp up renewable manufacturing and power production, retrofit every building in America, build the smart grid, overhaul transportation and agriculture, plant lots of trees and restore our ecosystem to get to net-zero.

So we won’t be able to entirely eliminate cows and airplanes in the First Glorious Ten Year Plan.  Perhaps, comrade, in the Second.

About those airplanes:

Totally overhaul transportation by massively expanding electric vehicle manufacturing, build charging stations everywhere, build out highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary, create affordable public transit available to all, with goal to replace every combustion-engine vehicle.

“Air travel stops becoming necessary.”  That’s for you, prole, not the ruling class.  And what about intercontinental travel?  A transatlantic tunnel, hurrah!

How is all of this going to be paid for?

The same way we paid for the New Deal, the 2008 bank bailout and extended quantitative easing programs. The same way we paid for World War II and all our current wars. The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments and new public banks can be created to extend credit. There is also space for the government to take an equity stake in projects to get a return on investment. At the end of the day, this is an investment in our economy that should grow our wealth as a nation, so the question isn’t how will we pay for it, but what will we do with our new shared prosperity.

So, printing money.  Hey, it worked for Venezuela, didn’t it?

But after all:

• Americans love a challenge. This is our moonshot.
o When JFK said we’d go to the by the end of the decade, people said impossible.

Darned if we didn’t go the by the end of the decade!

Read the whole thing.  It’s a laugh riot.

8+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Experiment: Second Life Artificial Meet-Up (SLAMU)

Second Life Artificial Meet-UpShortly after the Ratburger.org site was created on 2017-12-09, we signed up for and implemented a text chat system called CometChat on 2017-12-12.  This was nothing but bother, with update after update failing to install and the last straw being when, at the end of the first year’s trial period, they wanted us to pay US$ 50/month for a shoddy service which we’d never actually used.  I deleted the hunk of junk on 2018-09-30.

Still, it would be nice to be able to host real-time events, perhaps with more interaction than is possible on our existing Audio Meet-Ups.  For this, I have been exploring using a platform many consider passé, but technologically perfectly positioned to burgeon in the Roaring Twenties, Second Life.

Second Life is a virtual world which, as of the end of 2017, had between 800,000 and 900,000 active users.  When you visit it, you’ll typically find on the order of 40,000 people logged on.  In Second Life you can visit a multitude of interesting destinations built by denizens, buy or rent land, build your own Bond villain redoubt, and create new objects which you can sell to others within the virtual world.

My ambition for Second Life and Ratburger is very modest at present: I’m thinking about using it as a chat room and place for meet-ups which don’t run up phone charges for participants.  Assuming you’ve set up your computer properly, you can chat in text or converse in voice after meeting at a location in Second Life.

Some time in the next month, I’d like to schedule an experimental Second Life Artificial Meet-Up (SLAMU) at some time chosen to accommodate the crazy quilt of time zones of our members (probably the same time as the Tuesday RAMU, but on another day).  If you’d like to participate, here’s what you’ll have to do.

Create a new account on Second Life.  Click the “Join Free” button and fill out the form.  Note that your Username cannot be changed after you join, so in the interest of privacy, do not chose a Username which discloses personal information.  Choose an avatar of your preference; you can be anybody you like—use your imagination!

Download and install a viewer on your computer.  I prefer the Firestorm Viewer, which is available for Linux, Macintosh, and legacy Windows systems.  You will need a relatively recent computer with lots of RAM and a graphical processing unit (GPU) to run this software.  The official Second Life Viewer is an alternative, but is generally behind Firestorm in features and device compatibility.

Log in to Second Life from your viewer application.  You will generally be taken to a starting point for new users such as London City, which will let you explore things you can do in the virtual world.  It will take some time to become familiar with moving around, interacting with objects, etc.  From there, you can go to myriad other places.

If you want to use voice communication, visit the Voice Echo Canyon:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Voice%20Echo%20Canyon/128/130/23

(This is a Second Life URL which will not work in your browser, but works in the Second Life destination bar.)  Try speaking (use the middle mouse button to toggle speaking off and on, or the microphone button at the bottom in Firestorm) and see if you can hear the echo.  If you don’t see a white dot above your head, audio is not enabled on your computer. If this happens and you’re on a Linux system, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you a fix which worked for me.

Visit some interesting places, such as the amazing International Spaceflight Museum:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Spaceport%20Alpha/48/78/23

and see what people have built in this virtual world.

My user name is “Fourmilab” and my humble abode (and SLAMU clubhouse until we build something more imposing) is at:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cowell%20Farm/216/12/42

This year in cyberspace!

SLAMU: Ratburger clubhouse

11+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

We Got Some Snow

And by we, I mean the local mountains. On my ride into work this morning* I was treated to this vista:

Baldy is a 10,000 ft (~ 3100 m for your foreigners) summit, the highest point in my county, though not the highest peak near me. Only 15 months ago, I joined a bunch of folks, including some from the legacy site, on the summit of Baldy. I’m the one wearing shades. Some of you may recognize one or two others.


*using the most expansive definition of morning, i.e., about 1 pm local time (1300 for you foreigners).

6+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar