monday is for linking: financial geekery, NY same-sex marriage, DVR sports
Mood: okay
Posted on 2011-06-13 16:56:00
Tags: gay politics links
Words: 150

Britton Gregory, a friend of ours, is getting into the financial coaching business, and he has a new excellent blog called Financial Geekery. Check it out! I've already learned that I need to check my American Express credit card to see if I can get better rewards...

There's probably going to be a vote on same-sex marriage in New York this week, and apparently the count of confirmed supporters is up to 30 (out of 32 necessary). Go go go! (skipping obligatory link to map)

Chuck Klosterman tries to explain why watching sports on the DVR sucks the fun out of it. I have had similar feelings, and his explanations seem pretty close to the truth.

Taking Cold Showers - I like the idea but not sure I can force myself to do this. I'm not a very determined person in the morning!

A cool time-lapse video of Manhattan traffic, etc.


Unusually good links
Mood: stressed
Posted on 2011-06-06 13:15:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 240

I usually wait and queue these up a bit, but these are too good to hold on to!

- Our Fantasy Nation?: I'll quote the beginning, and let you read the article for the punchline.

With Tea Party conservatives and many Republicans balking at raising the debt ceiling, let me offer them an example of a nation that lives up to their ideals.

It has among the lowest tax burdens of any major country: fewer than 2 percent of the people pay any taxes. Government is limited, so that burdensome regulations never kill jobs.

This society embraces traditional religious values and a conservative sensibility. Nobody minds school prayer, same-sex marriage isn’t imaginable, and criminals are never coddled.

The budget priority is a strong military, the nation’s most respected institution. When generals decide on a policy for, say, Afghanistan, politicians defer to them. Citizens are deeply patriotic, and nobody burns flags.
(via flamingophoenix, which is also an excellent username!)

- Slate uses Rotten Tomatoes data to chart the course of an actor's or director's career, and even lets you make graphs of your own!

- The Alamo Drafthouse is serious about not texting during a movie. See their latest PSA featuring an angry voicemail!

- This Daily WTF made me blink in disbelief. The first four lines:
/* this is my function to conveniently divide even when things are zero */
function safely_divideByZero($numerator,$denominator)
    /* check to see if the denominator == "php" - remember, 0 == "php" */
    if ( $denominator == "php" )

1 comment

it's-been-a-little-while links
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2011-06-01 13:29:00
Tags: gay politics links
Words: 189

- A cool visualization of various countries' "life indices" where you can weight the different factors. And the countries look like flowers! (via djedi)

- A new poll shows Americans estimate 25% of the population is gay/lesbian. To which I say...where are you living?? Admittedly things like this are hard to measure (some people are closeted, not to mention sexuality is somewhat fluid), but this is way higher than any estimate I've seen. 7-10% or so sounds right to me. (via djedi)

- In a similar vein, a story from the AP suggesting the same-sex marriage tide is turning, maybe. Unfortunately the map is still pretty grim, and Minnesota just put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban same-sex marriage.

- Over at the Atlantic, there's a series on the 10 biggest constitutional myths. Here's a good debunking of "originalists", and here's why the Constitution's purpose wasn't to limit Congress.

- Facebook devalues birthday greetings - yes yes yes! I've been saying this for years!

- Being Frugal Makes You A Loser - inflammatory title, and please don't read the comments, but I generally agree with the message, assuming you can afford good-quality things. (NSFW language)


FlightPredictor featured in webOS developer newsletter!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-05-31 17:46:00
Tags: palm
Words: 4

Here's a screenshot:



many links categorized
Mood: stressed
Posted on 2011-05-18 10:33:00
Tags: gay links
Words: 204

long reads:
Details on the Google Skyhook lawsuit with lots of details on the power Google has over handset manufacturers who use Android. A long New Yorker article about a whistleblower of sorts being prosecuted, and how the Obama administration has been prosecuting whistleblowers just as much as the Bush administration.

John McCain writes an editorial explaining how torture didn't help catch bin Laden (although it did give false intelligence) and we shouldn't do it anyway.

gays in sports:
A former Villanova basketball player comes out and says his teammates knew at the time (and no one cared). An executive for the Phoenix Suns comes out, and players are supportive. Charles Barkley (God bless him) says pro athletes have almost certainly played on a team with someone who's gay (himself included), and who cares?

gays in New York:
Wealthy donors to the Republican party are backing gay marriage in New York. Surprised? I was. But it just goes to show a New York Republican is in a very different class than, say, a Texas Republican.

fun baseball videos:
A fan runs onto the field at an Astros game, and it doesn't end like you expect! And during a rain delay, college players joust.


A: not much
Mood: thoughtful
Posted on 2011-05-14 22:48:00
Tags: essay
Words: 158

I haven't written much about "life" lately. Mostly that's because things are mostly the same - go to work, come home, and do other random stuff. I know I've said this before, but the years after graduation were filled with moving, switching jobs, and moving. (and getting married...)

Honestly, I'm pretty OK with this. Temporary changes energize me (travel! vacation! new restaurants! etc.) but big life changes kinda do the opposite. I like the feeling of having a place that we live that will be ours for the foreseeable future. Same with my job - though what exactly I do varies from day to day, the people I work with don't.

So I guess this is my way of saying life is generally good. Yay!

Unrelated: Billboard seen between Fort Worth and Dallas: Where's the Birth Certificate? (actually, saw one of these between Austin and San Antonio as well) My question: so do these get taken down now? (maybe not...)


cave pictures!
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2011-05-12 23:29:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 40

During our staycation last week we went to Natural Bridge Caverns right outside of San Antonio. It was fun! We took pictures; here are some:
- David in front of the Natural Bridge
- creepy me
- a cave!
- a very big room


Public life/private life
Mood: frustrated
Posted on 2011-05-11 22:58:00
Tags: essay gay
Words: 94

This article bothers me. Obviously I disagree with the guy, but "being against gay marriage" isn't nearly bad enough to disqualify you from representing the USA, assuming he didn't let it interfere with his duties (and there is no indication that it would have). Yeah, he wasn't fired, but I'd like to know who pressured him to resign.

I live in a country where I can disagree with others on controversial issues and still work with them. One's personal life and views should be reasonably separate from one's public life!

Posted via LJ for WebOS.


Spot the problem with this sentence!
Mood: amazed
Posted on 2011-05-10 10:48:00
Tags: politics
Words: 51

From Public Policy Polling:

In February we found that 51% of Republican primary voters thought Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Now with the release of his birth certificate only 34% of GOP partisans fall into that camp...
Relatedly, support for Trump has collapsed, least that's good?


"It Gets Better" and Republicans
Mood: angry
Posted on 2011-05-09 14:55:00
Tags: rant gay politics
Words: 269

In September, after a rash of teen suicides, Dan Savage started the It Gets Better project to tell bullied youth (especially LGBT) that it does, in fact, get better, and that high school is probably the low point of your life. Basically, the message is: don't commit suicide.

The project kinda took off and now there are thousands and thousands of videos. Google is even showing a TV ad about it. (although the ad is technically for Chrome) Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi have all made videos, among other Democratic senators and representatives.

You know who hasn't made any videos? Elected Republican officials. The only candidate for president who has is Fred Karger who is marginal even among the marginal candidates. As far as I can tell, no Republican senators or representatives have made one. (please, correct me if I'm wrong!)

Now, I don't think that all the Republican senators/representatives actually _want_ gay kids to commit suicide. But what kind of message does it send when an entire party is silent on the issue, or thinks that speaking up against suicide will anger their voters? (hint: it is terrible)

Yet more evidence that Republicans and Democrats are not the same. (although, does anyone really think that anymore? I think that kind of thinking expired in the 2000s...)


Marginally related - this headline speaks for itself: Tea Party Leader: We'll Take The Debt Ceiling Hike If You Put Gay Troops Back In The Closet. I thought the Tea Party was neutralish on social issues?

Anyway, I'm going to go have a root beer float and un-angry myself.


Deadwood and Osama bin Laden
Mood: happy
Posted on 2011-05-06 18:35:00
Tags: links
Words: 73

- As part of Cheapass Games's grand reopening, they've released a major revamp of Deadwood. I found the article that discussed the redesign and reasons behind it fascinating!

- So, we killed Osama bin Laden. Yay! The New York Times did a neat infographic about people's responses in a 2D grid - one axis is emotional response (negative vs. positive) and the other is how big an impact it will have in the war on terror.


Palm developer session
Mood: happy
Posted on 2011-05-03 11:12:00
Tags: pictures palm travel
Words: 399

I just got back from a Palm developer session and had a blast! Details below...

Pictures from the trip and from Easter are here:

I arrived Wednesday night late and took a cab to the hotel (the Best Western Silicon Valley) which was a little plain but comfortable enough. Except they had a coffee maker in the room with no tea bags! Should have brought along my own like David suggested...

The hotel was under a mile from Palm HQ, so the next morning I packed up my laptop (which has since died - thank goodness it survived the trip!) and walked. The morning was a few sessions and the afternoon was just a time to work on your app with a bunch of Palm people around and available to help. Oh, and I got to play with a TouchPad, which (I believe this is all I can say) is awesome!

As with last year I forced myself to be sociable and was pretty successful - met a few folks I had only chatted with online and some other fellow developers. Going from the outside world to a place where everyone is excited about webOS feels like culture shock, and there's a real sense of camaraderie among we developers.

Thursday afternoon and Friday was all coding time, so I got a lot of stuff done. I also learned about censored, and I might be censored and censored!

Saturday I decided to find a better way back to the airport, which meant walking 1.3 miles (with luggage) to the Sunnyvale Caltrain station. Had some extra time so I walked around the Sunnyvale farmer's market and bought a book (since the trip cost to the airport was $4.50 vs. $40 for the cab, I felt I had earned it!) I stopped in two shops and both people asked about my Scottish Rite shirt, leading me to conclude that residents of Sunnyvale (Sunnyvalians?) are big fans of children's theatre!

Made it to the airport way early and walked around a lot. The airport is big, but my reward was a neat gizmo-like machine at the end of Terminal A:

Also got a blueberry muffin (at Pai's recommendation) and finally got to try airport sushi, which was actually in this case quite good! I also stopped in a store, idly looking for headphones, which ranged in price from $15 to (I kid you not) $500!

1 comment

Palm TouchPad conference!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-04-25 14:00:00
Tags: palm palmpre
Words: 89

"Time… is what keeps everything from happening at once" - Ray Cummings

Time is falling down on the job for me. But, later this week I'm going to Sunnyvale for a HP/Palm TouchPad developer session! Very excited to get to try out my apps on the TouchPad and see how it feels.

The webOS team will be there as well and I'll have a chance to ask them questions. So - anything people want me to ask? (please only questions they can answer, i.e. not "Will the Pre3 be on Sprint?")


links with short commentary: lady gaga, doma, progressive insurance
Mood: thoughtful
Posted on 2011-04-25 13:39:00
Tags: essay links
Words: 451

(today is going to be a LJ-spammy kinda day. My apologies in advance.)

Weird Al was going to do a parody of a Lady Gaga song for his next album. Unfortunately, after a lot of back and forth and wasted time she said no. Then he posted about the saga and it turns out her manager had been speaking for her and she loves the song and gave permission. That's one of the downsides to fame that I hadn't thought about: it's hard enough to protect your reputation as it is, but when people contact "you" and have an entire conversation it seems downright impossible. The only reason this got sorted out is because Weird Al is also famous enough and posted about it. Of course, I don't know what the alternative is - surely Lady Gaga's manager deals with tons of stuff that Lady Gaga doesn't care or doesn't have time for.

The Obama administration has said that they're not going to defend DOMA in the courts. So the House of Representatives hired a law firm to do it for them. Now, presumably under pressure, that law firm has changed their mind and pulled out, and a senior partner has resigned from the firm as a result. My first response: DOMA is bad, so yay! My second response: actually, this isn't a great thing. Our legal system is based on the fact that lawyers will defend unpopular people, and it's up to the jury to decide. (Clement, the senior partner who resigned, made this point in his resignation letter) My third response: Well, this isn't exactly the same thing - law firms aren't obligated to defend things they don't want to, and defending an unpopular person is a lot different than defending an unpopular cause. So I don't know.

I've been hearing ads from Progressive about their Snapshot program, which gives you "a discount for good driving". Apparently you get a discount based on how much you drive and when you drive, as well as if you avoid sudden braking, etc. On the one hand, hey, more data! It would be very very cool if you had access to this data so you could see how "safe" your driving is. I remember reading in a book that programs like this for beginning drivers helped them a lot. On the other hand, plugging a device into my car and giving my insurance company access to this data is not something I particularly relish. They say that your rates won't go up based on the data (and there's no GPS data), but I wouldn't be surprised if both of those change over time. Could they make the Snapshot program mandatory? Or would consumers rebel?


no time links
Mood: busy
Posted on 2011-04-25 11:16:00
Tags: links
Words: 164

- Is Sugar Toxic? is a very long article in the NYTimes magazine. The title is sensationalistic, but the evidence is kind of scary. On the other hand, what foods are worst for us seems to change every year, and it's hard to keep up.

- Speaking of the NYTimes, since moving to a paywall they've gotten 100K digital subscribers, which is pretty good. Although the first four weeks were discounted to 99 cents - we'll have to see what happens when it's time to renew. (disclaimer: I subscribed and am thinking of continuing)

- More NYTimes fun: a project called Cascade for tracking the sharing of stories on the web. Unfortunately they just have videos up (and no live demo) but it looks pretty neat!

- Nintendo pre-announces its followup to the Wii, meaning they said they'll announce it at E3 in June and it will ship next year.

- Is Garfield Dead? - I remember reading these strips as a kid (in a book) and being kinda freaked out.


Tax volunteering: recap
Mood: thoughtful
Posted on 2011-04-24 14:25:00
Tags: taxcenter
Words: 121

I volunteered this year again at the Community Tax Center . It's a really neat service and they help a lot of people.

That said, I'm very uncertain about doing it next year. I would usually leave early from work, grab supper, and then only have an hour or two before they closed. And every time almost all the computers were taken by other volunteers, so I ended up doing almost exclusively quality reviews. Honestly, most of the time I didn't feel like they needed my help - there were so many UT students volunteers!

So...I don't know. I like helping out but I didn't feel particularly useful, especially for the amount of time I put in.

Posted via LJ for WebOS.


birthday links!
Mood: happy
Posted on 2011-04-20 16:07:00
Tags: gay politics links
Words: 80

- Nate Silver says: Gay Marriage Opponents Now in Minority. Yay! (although older people are more likely to oppose gay marriage and more likely to vote, so...yeah.)

- This is a little depressing, but a little freeing: The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We're All Going To Miss Almost Everything

- British Spy Secrets Still Much Cooler Than American Spy Secrets

- The Creativity Killer: Group Discussions - not always true, but often true it seems. Has some interesting suggestions for making group discussions more creative.


links a million
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-04-19 14:11:00
Tags: links
Words: 119

- Justice is served, but more so after lunch - the more recently the judge has eaten/taken a break, the more likely he/she is to grant parole. We're only human, after all...

- A nice profile of David Eagleman (a Rice alum!) and how the brain measures time. Long (it's the New Yorker, after all :-) ) but worth reading!

- The White House has a "tax receipt" so you can see what your taxes go towards. The top three categories for income taxes are "National Defense", "Health Care", and "Job and Family Security".

- Ignore the customer experience, lose a billion dollars (Walmart case study) - or, why asking people what they want is really unreliable.

Portal 2 is out! Looking forward to playing it tonight...

1 comment

Queen! (and me)
Mood: happy
Music: Queen - "Radio GaGa"
Posted on 2011-04-15 13:58:00
Tags: music
Words: 110

Jonathan and I went to the Queen Sing-along last night at the Alamo Drafthouse, hosted by The Action Pack. It was awesome! Watching Freddie Mercury singing Radio GaGa at Live Aid really demonstrated how great a live performer he was.

Also, his voice was amazing. And his range, ridiculous! I think my throat was more sore than after the Michael Jackson singalong, which is saying something. (wow, that was 6 years ago?? I feel old....)

More Queen videos:
Under Pressure live at Wembley
Queen did the theme song for Flash Gordon! That is something I did not know.


In unrelated news, I'm in an internet video! Presumably more to come...


I get spotlighted! (spotlit?)
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-04-12 09:52:00
Tags: palm
Words: 47

webOSroundup did a developer spotlight with me! It's a great kickoff to my "webOS awareness tour", wherein I'll be driving, busing, and taking the train around the country to spread the good word about webOS!

(one of those sentences is not intended to be a factual statement)


new work background!
Mood: happy
Posted on 2011-04-11 12:53:00
Tags: links
Words: 150

- My old background was the pretty Facebook friends map of the world. But I have found something even more awesome: Trexels! (or: pixel versions of 200+ Star Trek characters) Gotta catch them all!

- A top official of the National Organization for Marriage now believes in civil marriage equality.

- Ah, Mississippi, where 46% of Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal, while 40% say it should be legal.

- The government didn't shut down - yay! Now there might be a big fight over raising the debt limit, but Nate Silver points out John Boehner doesn't have a great hand to play. Defaulting on our debts would be even more catastrophic financially than the government shutting down, so hopefully we can not do the same wait-until-the-last-minute type of strategy and move on to other things. Apparently Obama's working on a plan to reduce our debt that is hopefully less crazy than the Republican's.


politics: shuttin' down the gubmint
Mood: angry
Posted on 2011-04-08 12:37:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 92

The proposed Republican budget: here is the problem. Or, in graphical form:

Apparently the Democrats have agreed to $38 billion of spending cuts (more than before), but the Republicans are now insisting on a rider that defunds Planned Parenthood, which the Democrats (rightly) will not agree to. Planned Parenthood provides lots of services including birth control (which, hey! reduces the number of abortions), and government money isn't used to fund abortions per the Hyde amendment. So, yeah. This is what the government of the US is going to shut down over. Whee.

1 comment

links amid the downtime
Mood: calm
Posted on 2011-04-06 13:40:00
Tags: work links
Words: 193

LiveJournal has been under a DDOS attack/really flaky this week. I know because I keep getting emails LJ for WebOS users. Sorry, everyone!

- SpaceX announced the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is the world's most powerful (excluding the Saturn V), and launches will only cost ~$100 million. More stats in the press release. Hey, and they use LabVIEW!

- Should You Give Money to Homeless People? - from the article:

The short answer is no. The long answer is yes, but only if you work for an organization that can ensure the money is spent wisely.*
- Perhaps the best Reddit question ever begins with
I like big butts and I cannot lie, but is there some evolutionary reason as to why?
- A Murder Foretold - long New Yorker article about the "ultimate political conspiracy" in Guatemala. Reads like a Tom Clancy novel or something. (but with fewer submarines)

- Kindle and Nook readers bash high e-book pricing with angry one-star reviews - this annoys me SO MUCH. Review the book, not the price! If you don't think the book is worth the price, say so, but some people seem to think no book in the world is worth $15.


The Republican's tax plan...whoa
Mood: astonished
Posted on 2011-04-05 21:04:00
Tags: taxes
Words: 108

I was listening on NPR about the plan and one detail made me do a double-take: they want to lower the top tax rate to 25%. (currently the rates are 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35%) Going from 35% to 25% sounded like a crazy reduction, especially for a plan that purports to balance the budget.

But, lo and behold, that number is correct. Currently, the 35% rate only goes into effect after the first $375K of taxable income.

Maaaaaybe, if you want to balance the budget but not privatize Medicare, you could not lower the top tax rate to the lowest it's been since the 1930's?


Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2011-03-31 12:42:00
Words: 77

We got new shoes on Saturday! My old shoes were almost two years old and literally falling apart. I'm pretty tough on them since I've gotten in the bad habit of not untying them when I put them on and just cramming my foot in it. As a result, chunks of padding had fallen out, etc., etc.

These new New Balance shoes are soooo much more comfortable on my feet. It feels like I'm walking on air!


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