Aug 102017

My evening went in a whole different direction than what I’d wanted, with the sort of results a non-sociopath should expect. Fortunately, you can always rely on the news to bring you the most uplifting scenes of destruction, like this one out of Austin, Texas back in July:


The woman driving the car apparently hit the gas rather than the brakes, plowed through the cable barrier and plunged *seven* stories. Since she survived, I guess that’s a seat-belt-and-air-bag success story. Doesn’t exactly say great things about that barrier system, though.

 Posted by at 10:16 pm
Aug 102017

Junior was, as far as cats go, kind of an asshole. He hissed at me every time he saw me. He wouldn’t let me near him. If I tried to touch him, he’d try to swat me, claws out. He was terribly ungrateful even when I cracked open a cat of wet food for him.

Still, he was a cat.

Like the cat in February, he was hit by a car. Like that cat, I sat with him as he died. Unlike that cat, it was mercifully brief. And then I buried him in my back yard as he thunder started rolling in.

He was not *my* cat, he lived free in the world. But he is why *my* cats will, so long as I have anything to say about it, live safely indoors, for a long, long time.

Junior was the last of the outside cats around here. There was a time when my house was the center of attention for a *lot* of cats, always litters of kittens showing up. But now those days are done, and the world is a little less for it.

 Posted by at 8:02 pm
Aug 092017

Inside the $600-a-head Silicon Valley restaurant where Google and Apple executives eat gold-flecked steaks

Now, I’m all in favor of someone charging as much as they can for “high-end” stuff. If you can, without lying, convince the sort of executives who loudly extol “diversity” while censoring opinions they don’t like to spend a hundred bucks on a can of Campbell’s Chicken Neutical Soup… hey, great, wish I’d thought of it. But if you’re on the other end of that transaction, what exactly are you getting out of it?

There is novelty value, I suppose, as well as the presumed value in showing off. But if you’re rich, does showing off how much money you can blow on nonsense make people want to invest with you? Seems counter-intuitive.

One of the leadoff images in the article is a distressingly small piece of meat that looks like a Wendy’s burger patty with some corners cut off, dressed with Actual Gold. That’s always a way to impress people… you’re consuming *gold.* And surely that’s a good justification for the high price, right? Gold is expensive, right? Thousands of dollars per ounce? Yeah… no. One of the amazing things about gold is its ductility, meaning it can be beaten or rolled into astonishingly thin sheets, just a few microns. And you can buy edible gold foil sheets off of Amazon.

That’s ten sheets, 3.14 inches on a side, for seventeen bucks. Yeah, that piece of meat has maybe a dimes worth of gold on it. You’re looking at gold the thickness of which is probably a small handful of *atoms.*

When I first read the piece, my first thought was “the rich really are different.” But then I remembered “no, they’re not.” Because for every instance of a rich schmoe splurging what is for him undoubtedly a tiny fraction of their wealth on something fundamentally pointless, there are probably thousands of instances of poor-ish people spending money they really can’t afford on stuff almost equally overpriced and useless. Amazingly overpriced sneakers (and people rioting for them) spring immediately to mind, along with all variations of “bling.” Given the extremely minimal actual cost of edible gold foil, I’m surprised I don’t see low-end restaurants making a killing by adding a quarters’ worth of gold to a cheap piece of meat… turn an $8 steak into a $30 one. Additional cost is nothing; additional profit is huge.

Now if you’re excuse me, I’m going to go get a breakfast burrito from the gas station.

 Posted by at 9:19 am
Aug 092017

It can get you fired. Additionally, it can get you lied about in the media.

Here Are All The Media Outlets Blatantly Lying About The Google Memo

This is one of those tricky situations. On the one hand, Google, like YouTube, is a private company and is not bound by the 1st Amendment, and can fire people for any cause they like, including having politically unpopular (even if only unpopular with certain people) opinions or politics. On the other hand, communications companies like Google, Twitter and YouTube are so powerful, dominant and important to public discourse that when they decide to censor political opinions, there is not a whole lot that those so censored can really do about it. Could a million right wingers get together to buy up enough stock to repopulate the board of directors of these companies? Somehow I doubt it, but that might be the only way to keep these sort of companies from shutting down politics that’s right of far left.

 Posted by at 12:11 am
Aug 072017

I believe “well that’s just stupid” will be the defining phrase of the next generation, perhaps of the entire century. Consider:

Prof lets students choose own grades for ‘stress reduction’

If you feel unduly stressed by a grade for any assessable material or the overall course, you can email the instructor indicating what grade you think is appropriate, and it will be so changed. No explanation is required, but it is requested that you consider waiting 24 hours before emailing the instructor.

If in a group meeting, you feel stressed by your group’s dynamics, you should leave the meeting immediately and need offer no explanation to the group members. Furthermore, you can request to discontinue all further group work and your grade will be based totally on non-group work.

Only positive comments about presentations will be given in class. Comments designed to improve future presentations will be communicated by email.

Fortunately, this if for a course on “business data management” rather than something important like medicine or engineering. (Note: how to tell if a course of study is important? If the graduate gets out into the world and gets a job in that field and manages to screw up and people *die* as a result… the course was important.)

Honestly, I can’t tell if this is a dumbass prof who has decided to coddle his students, or if he’s a worn-down prof who has decided to throw in the towel…and let reality come down like a hammer on the lazy slobs who decide to take advantage of the option to arbitrarily bump up their own grades and to avid negative comments.

 Posted by at 3:49 pm