Sep 16


So-called ergonomic keyboards hurt my wrists a great deal. I can type on them for 10-15 minutes. No problem with regular keyboards. Can and have typed on one of those for 16 hours straight with no issues.

But getting a keyboard again with mechanical switches really sped up my typing and made my fingers less tired.

Of course during the early 80s when I started typing heavily all keyboards came with mechanical switches. Gradually, manufacturers switched to cheaper, worse keyboards and mainly only people like me who had been using PCs since the early days noticed.

Now mechanical key switches in keyboards are making a resurgence, and that’s a really good thing.

Sep 15


So many people still hate science fiction and this surprises me because sf has taken up the mantle that most “serious” literature these days ignores – that of dealing with real actual social issues.

Science fiction plays a role here. SF is one of the most trenchant present-day forms of satire. Harsh truths about our present-day society can be too inflammatory to express outright. But if they’re dramatized within science-fictional worlds, vast numbers of citizens may be willing to absorb them.

For instance, Max Barry’s Jennifer Government has done more to lampoon and illuminate the libertarian ideal end state than all the academic monographs in history.

There are hundreds more examples, of course. Thousands, really.

One wonders, for instance, if the world wide web would have arisen in its present form if it hadn’t been for the popularity of Tolkien and of cyberpunk science fiction. Very many of the programmers were reading both of these sets of novels.

Exactly. The web standards are open and available to all for that very reason. They just as easily could’ve been patented and locked away, and available only for large fees. The inevitable outcome is only inevitable in hindsight.

The foundations of the internet and the web are both fundamentally anti-corporate and anti-capitalistic in nature (though funded by capitalistic enterprises – interesting subversion there) all due to some sf-infused hippie hackers.

Interesting how the world turns.

Sep 15

When you don’t fit

Strange that in my life contemporaneously I’ve been called an “uptight Republican” and a “hopeless tree-hugging liberal” (along with some slurs about my alleged sexuality).

When you don’t really fit into any ideological category and also emphatically decline to join any tribe, people see what they want to see and try to fit you into places that make some sense to them, even if completely inapplicable and unsupported by the evidence.

Not that I think being hated by every group makes me right. But I do believe that being hated by every group means that I think for myself and reach my own conclusions, which is far more important to me, right or not.

Sep 15

Adipose the question

This is a good article, as it doesn’t engage in the scientifically-dubious “healthy-at-any-weight” schlock, but is also compassionate to the obese. Also, I think I read a shorter version of this somewhere.

Questions of aesthetics aside, obesity is bad because it causes disease by, for instance, raising blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stuffing your liver full of fat, blocking your throat so you can’t breathe at night, crushing your joints. Fat people are more likely to get blood clots, gallstones, gout and some cancers – as well as type 2 diabetes, which leads to all manner of medical mayhem. Fat men and women make less money, marry less often and are less educated than the lean. They are more often depressed. In the Framingham Heart Study, which has examined the causes of cardiovascular disease across generations, the very fat lived on average six to seven years less than the lean. The moderately fat lived three years less. If you quit smoking and get fat, you may as well have kept on smoking. These dire facts are not my opinion. They are based on empirical data extracted from large international trials and studies. I wish it were not so. I wish you could get really fat and stay healthy.

Personal experience here. I lost around 25% of my body weight and I feel vastly better. I went from being dead-tired after walking 4-5 miles to walking 6-7 and feeling like I’d done about nothing.

I don’t feel like I am 18 again, but I went from feeling like I was 60 to feeling 30. So fucking worth it.

I know and understand why it’s a reviled phrase, but it worked for me so I like it: that piece of pizza doesn’t taste nearly as good as being skinny feels.

If you make a fat person thin, you are sentencing them to a lifetime of hunger.

So what? Life isn’t fair, as my father frequently reminded me when I was a kid. Everything you want is traded for something else. That is the deal in this universe, and always will be. Crying about it won’t help one little bit.

I know that everyone just can’t buck up and make their body do what they want, but there must be some reason that obesity is so high these days that doesn’t involve the genetic virus conspiracy theory explanation. We should look into the real reasons and do something about those, as I realize most people won’t be able to do what I did.

Sep 14

No email

The great thing about people who use Facebook and stop using email as this post mentions is that those are people that I never want to talk to anyway.

It’s kind of perfect. They remove themselves from being able to communicate with me, and thus I never have to deal with them.

It’s amazing to me that email – one of the simplest apps ever made, even at the command line – is too tough for some people to handle.

Sep 14

Batted about

What would have been extremely awesome if instead of Ben Affleck as Batman, Zoe Saldana had been cast.

Oh, the nerd rage would have been epic – a woman of color playing Batman!

Never would happen, but my god with her intensity and poise she would’ve been perfect for the part – that matters the most of course –  and watching the frothing inchoate bitter fury would have been so much fun.

Sep 13


Oxford researchers say that 45 percent of America’s occupations will be automated within the next 20 years.

That was about my guess, too. I would’ve given a range of 40-60 percent.

Economists I believe are incorrect in that new, better jobs will arise to replace those being lost. I think we’ve reached an inflection point of that trend, and will need to greatly change how our economy operates or watch large numbers of people suffer and starve very soon.

It is not clear which choice we will make.

I’d also say that in 50 years, around 80 percent of jobs will be automated and no longer exist.

Sep 13

Two kinds of dumb

It’s funny that climate change deniers are some of the dumbest people on the planet despite often having rather difficult-to-attain engineering degrees or similar.

But there are two kinds of dumb, I’ve found.

There’s the “lol you’re mom is fat” Youtube commenter kind of dumb, and the other kind of dumb – the “gifted kid” engineeritis kind of dumb

All told, I mostly hate the latter kind of dumb more as it wastes far more of my time. The Youtube commenter species of dumb I can ignore from the moment my eyes see “lol.”

The engineeritis sort of dumb, which is really an ego inflammation, tends to make arguments that appear cogent and are often pseudo-erudite and sesquipedalian so much so that I might get three sentences in before I realize all the claptrap being spewed.

So this sort of dumb wastes far more of my time, and is thus more annoying.

Sep 12

11,000 volts OMG

I just saw a little blurb that said some major hydroelectric dam produced 11,000 volts of electricity.

Ok then. I produce 11,000 volts of electricity when I shock someone after dragging my feet across the carpet.

That’s like saying, “My car produces a foot of speed.” It’s somehow related but completely unhinged.

Anyway, if you convert volt amperes into megawatts, that’s about 0.011 megawatts. Assuming no loss along the way (and assuming they are talking AC), that could power…a grand total of 11 houses. The average house uses about 1kw at any given time.

I assume the person meant 11 megawatts, which is ok for a hydro plant. The really big ones, though, are much larger. The Grand Coulee Dam for instance produces ~7gw (gigawatts) of power.

This is why humanities people need some science classes, ya’ll.

Sep 11


This is so true, and is true of photography, too.

Too many people think graphic design is not a specialty, but something anyone can do, because the tools to make decent-looking Web pages, newsletters, books, and the like are readily available.

There’s an incalculable number of people who have said things to me like this: “Photography is easy. You just point the camera and take a picture.”

And that might be true for a crappy smartphone photo, but for real, professional-level photography this is like saying, “Building a car is easy. Just get some axles and wheels and Play-Doh and call it good.”

Those infected with engineeritis assume that because the initial steps are easy – that anyone can pick up a camera or open Adobe Illustrator – that all the rest is easy, too.

This is as silly and as stupid as saying that because nearly anyone can do basic arithmetic, anyone can easily solve the engineering equations for bending moment and deflection of simply supported beams.

Why do only engineer types tend to do this so often and so consistently, I wonder?