Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Preparing for life in the twenty-first century. Uh, and a half.

Evil and religion in the modern media—Friday, October 17th, 2014

Over at the Ace of Spades HQ, Ace writes about the media’s partisanship:

I’ve been saying this for a while: The press claims to be nonpartisan and to only be interested in “good stories,” no matter which party they might damage.

They can’t really make these claims in the age of Twitter. Because their reading list—the Twitter accounts they follow daily—is public information.

You’d think these guys would at least try to “make it look good” by adding in a few of the more credible, less strident twitter accounts of right-leaning writers. But no—no one bothers even to follow University of Tennessee Law School Professor Glenn Reynolds.

They don’t follow conservative ideas because conservatives are evil. When you are part of a movement, you don’t look for balance. You look for allies and enemies. Since the media is progressive, conservatives are their enemies. They are the devil, and you don’t look to the devil for reason and truth. Any compromise between good and evil is evil. Any compromise between the truth and a lie is itself a lie.

And when you are part of a movement, any alternative views are lies.

I recently read Samuel G. Freedman’s Letters to a Young Journalist. In it, he decries the loss of alternative views in the media—and also decries the existence of alternative views on the right. Despite having somewhat conservative views himself, he must, to be accepted as a journalist, share the same views as his colleagues.

Ace continues, pointing out that while members of the press don’t follow even moderate conservatives,

On the other hand, many follow the over-the-top hard-left rantings of Jay Rosen of NYU University, a media critic who frequently declares that the media must drop even the pretense of impartiality and embrace a resolutely left-liberal advocacy position, because there is no “balance” possible between Truth and Lies.

Now, Rosen is, in fact, partially correct. There is no balance between truth and lie. Facts themselves are not a compromise. But he’s also wrong: you don’t know which is fact and which is not without putting both in the scales and measuring them. To think you can know the truth without measurement is to have a religion.

As a journalist or a scientist you only get to choose which is truth and which is false after you have sifted the evidence. Only priests get to decide truth by recourse to a higher cause. Only priests—and liars.

Most Open and Transparent Lies Ever—Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Here is something I knew but didn’t remember: last year, the exchange prices were all out on October 1. This year the administration has chosen specifically to delay listing them, over a month, until after the election.

There are multiple meanings of transparent. And open, for that matter. When we were promised the most open and transparent administration ever, what we were promised were open disregard and transparent lies.

ia Writer for iOS and Mac OS—Monday, October 13th, 2014
ia Writer shopping list

Because ia Writer is available on Mac and iOS, and uses iCloud to sync, it is great for simple lists such as shopping lists.

Most of my non-fiction writing nowadays is in ia Writer.1 I first picked up ia Writer on the iPad because I needed a good program for writing blog posts on the fly. Because the same app worked on both the iPad and the iPhone, I ended up using it for simple lists, such as my grocery list. It uses iCloud to seamlessly synchronize between the two devices, as long as I come near a WiFi network on the iPad. Which, increasingly, is not a problem.

When I saw that there was a Mac OS version of ia Writer, I immediately picked that up, too; it means that I can switch immediately from iPad to iMac for serious writing, and for quick changes use the iPhone on the run. I use ia Writer on Mac OS probably more than any other app; I’m writing this review in it, for example.

When I’m done, ia Writer on iOS can export to HTML, PDF, and “formatted text” for pasting into other apps. Of course, as a Markdown app the text can be copied exactly into Editorial or any other Markdown app. And of course ia Writer on Mac OS can export to PDF just like any other app; and it can copy to HTML, which I will use to paste this into my blog software.

Combined with ThisService, ia Writer on the Mac is a great part of my writing workflow.

What keeps me using ia Writer, besides its presence on all three of my devices, is that it is designed around writing. This is especially obvious when using the iPad’s built-in keyboard. It features a bar on the top that contains automatic smart quotes and automatic parentheses. It also puts the dash, asterisk, and pound front-and-center for use in Markdown, characters normally hidden behind going to numbers and then going from numbers to special characters on the default iOS keyboard.

GU24: Government-enforced energy-wasting lamps—Thursday, October 9th, 2014
GU24 fluorescent bulb

Government technology, bringing you the marvels of yesterday today!

We just had a hallway ceiling light go out; the way it flickered before going dark let me know it was a fluorescent bulb, and I looked forward to replacing it with one of the newer, less expensive and more energy-saving LED bulbs I’ve got in the closet for just such an opportunity.

Until I pulled it out and saw the two-legged alien creature inside. I was right about the fluorescent—it’s a 13-watt compact fluorescent bulb, 60-watt. Perfect for replacing with one of the cooler 10-watt LEDs in the closet. Except, of course, that none of them will fit as a replacement.

I did a quick search on two-pronged light bulb and discovered that this is a GU24 pin-base that “ensures that lighting systems intended for high-efficiency lamps cannot be used with incandescent lamps”. This is government-driven technology change. California, for example, in 2008, basically required the use of them for “all residential remodels and new construction”.

A high efficacy lamp screwed into a low efficacy luminaire will still be considered to be a low efficacy lighting system for Title 24 projects.

It was a government plan to enforce low-energy lighting, yet, now, in the socket that has one of these, I’m probably going to have to put in a 30% more power-hungry bulb than if it had the standard screw-in socket. A bulb that will have to be thrown out sooner, and that contains mercury.

Back in 2011 BuildingGreen.com claimed that GU24 sockets were “gaining momentum”. But their bulbs remain expensive now, three years later—especially for the better LED bulbs. GU24 LED bulbs do exist, but instead of costing $4.49 from Ikea the cheapest I’ve been able to find is a $23.95 one on Amazon. So either I buy an adapter and risk extending the length of the socket too much for the fixture, or I get a $5.78 fluorescent that uses more power and will have to be thrown out sooner.

This is what happens when government enforces a technology: technology moves much faster than government, and the mandate eventually breaks what it was meant to fix.

Paying liberty forward—Monday, October 6th, 2014

“The story of freedom is long; it’s written by an author who plans millenniums in advance.”

(Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.)
Only four-year-old policies grandfathered—Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Since October is Health Literacy Month, Aetna posted to Facebook asking “What confuses you?” about health insurance.

Since grandfathering definitely confuses me, I asked “Which policies are grandfathered and which are canceled by the ACA (and why)?” To their credit, they responded privately after asking for my insurance information.

Grandfathered members are only those that had active coverage before March 23, 2010. Anyone after that is considered non-grandfathered and would be subject to any changes mandated by the federal government due to ACA changes. If you have any additional questions please let us know.

So my final guess in the parent post is correct: only policies that are over four years old are going to be grandfathered past 2014. Anyone who purchased health insurance after March 23, 2010, cannot “keep their health insurance if they like it.”

Remember this when the New York Times criticizes conservatives—Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

According to Peter Baker at the New York Times, if you criticize a person’s politics, you really want them murdered. No joke:

President Obama must be touched by all the concern Republicans are showing him these days. As Congress examines security breaches at the White House, even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security.

“The American people want to know: Is the president safe?” Representative Darrell Issa of California, the Republican committee chairman who has made it his mission to investigate all sorts of Obama administration missteps, solemnly intoned as he opened a hearing into the lapses on Tuesday.

Yet it would not be all that surprising if Mr. Obama were a little wary of all the professed sympathy.

Baker himself made a living criticizing President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Does this mean he would have no concerns about assassination attempts against them? Was his book criticizing the Bush administration really attempted murder?

There’s a joke about the left that if you want to know what they’re thinking, watch what they claim about conservatives. Baker’s article really does seem to come from an assumption about political criticism that he—and the New York Times—must personally hold, or it wouldn’t make any sense.

The New York Times daily criticizes conservative politicians. Does this mean they want conservatives dead? Does this mean they want to weaken law enforcement protection of conservative presidents? Their snide remarks about how conservative critics can’t really be concerned about the safety of a leftist President say, yes.

The plexiglass highway—Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
Airline accident survivability statistics

Complaining about pilots not having experienced emergencies after automation is a little like complaining about the drop in the number of airline accident survivors after 1999.

In the latest Weekly Standard, Mark Bauerlein reviews Nicholas Carr’s The Glass Cage, which complains, apparently, that mankind is forgetting how to perform simple tasks that machines do better; when the machines break down, we simple humans have no experience to fall back on.

The technophile’s solution is to augment the automation, thereby decreasing the very toil that keeps humans sharp. Better to think more about the human subject, Carr advises—whether it is a pilot flustered at a critical moment or a young cashier who can’t make change after punching the wrong key.

I’m not the traditional technophile. I'm the guy who warns people not to trust the technology. Back when I worked in IT I wore my philosophy on my signature, which was Douglas Adams’s satirical admonition to always make sure you have a backup plan:

“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.”—Douglas Adams (Mostly Harmless)

But any plan that requires technology workers—whether airline pilots or checkout cashiers—to not use time-saving, labor-saving technology is doomed to fail. The solution must be to either augment the automation or augment the human operator’s emergency skills, because this automation that flustered the pilot suddenly thrust back into control is also the automation that has made airline travel so incredibly safe that some years now have no passenger fatalities.

The problem is not that automation has taken away these pilots skills by taking control of their planes. It is that automation has taken away the emergencies that require them to exercise emergency skills. Those pilots had flown their planes manually. What they had not done was have to extricate themselves from an emergency. We are not, I hope, going to trade that in as part of some Luddite blood sacrifice.

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