May 14

The Army doesn’t pay much

I just realized today that I make more in an hour now than I made in a day in the US Army.

They did pay for lodging and food so that helps. But still, that’s wild.

And in the army I felt like I had a lot of money because I’d never really had much before.

May 12


I yield for pedestrians in crosswalks as long as there are no cars behind me.

But particularly in Florida if there is a car following closely behind my own, I often do not yield because the likelihood of my car being rear-ended at high speed (and thus pushing me into the pedestrians) is extremely, extremely high.

I don’t do anything to endanger pedestrians as some in Florida do, but it is very dangerous to stop a car in the middle of the road here even if you and the pedestrians are obeying all laws.

And when I mention that I don’t do anything to endanger pedestrians, I mean that I don’t swerve or slalom around pedestrians as I’ve frequently observed other Floridians do. If they are already walking across the road and there are cars behind me, I will stop even if I think I might be hit from behind.

I’ve gotten well-practiced at stopping well ahead of where I need to so when the car behind me invariably locks up its brakes, I have room to move up and give the idiot some space.

I’ve driven in Cairo, Egypt, and in many ways driving in Florida is more dangerous.

May 11


Here’s why I and many other people fucking love Joss Whedon works.

Notice anything unusual about this photo of the cast of the new S.H.I.E.L.D tv show? Because it jumped out at the me the first time I saw it.

There’s no “token” woman! There’s three women and three men. You know how often that never happens? All the time! Except when Joss is doing the showrunning.

The show may be terrible. I have no idea. But I do know I have a lot easier time watching a show that doesn’t feature women as some strange, indecipherable peripheral creatures to be the random love interest at need, and then to disappear again when they are inconvenient.

Also, from this distance and angle, the guy on the right looks like Bruce Campbell.?Marvel's The Avengers?..Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)..Ph: Film Frame ..© 2011 MVLFFLLC.  TM & © 2011 Marvel.  All Rights Reserved.

Even in The Avengers, Whedon included women that he didn’t have to – he could’ve easily cut Maria Hill (which Colbie Smulders did a damn fine job portraying) in The Avengers movie and no one would’ve noticed.

I wish it weren’t so rare to make it worth commenting on, but in fiction women being the heroes, the ones making things happen, the ones bleeding and fighting alas is uncommon enough that it is extremely noticeable in the best of ways when it occurs.

I would’ve likely watched the S.H.I.E.L.D show at some point anyway, but now I will make a special effort to catch it.

And some people complain, “But, but, but most ‘heroic’ roles in the real world aren’t done by women! This isn’t like real life!” (Which isn’t even true, of course.)

Motherfucker, this it the Marvel universe, which features some 9 foot tall green dude running around throwing 62-ton M1A1 Abrams tanks like Tonka toys and jumping 200 feet straight up into the air. And you’re demanding so-called realism when it comes to female characters? Give me a damn break.

Let’s just hope the show itself is not S.H.I.T.

May 10

Guarding the plants

Not the greatest photo in the world, but this little jumping spider was guarding our plants. Note that I changed the photo a bit – the spider was hanging vertically on the wall, but I thought its eyes looked better if I rotated the photo a bit.


Unlike most spiders, jumping spiders have very large, completely front-facing primary eyes and six other eyes that can see in all directions. Pretty freakin’ cool.

May 10


Instead of “casual Friday,” I want to make an “acausal Friday,” where all effects are separated from their causes.

May 10

Cloudy with a chance of bullshit

This is what will happen to you if you store any of your stuff – mail included – in the so-called “cloud.” Without frequent backup, that is.


And it is also what happens when you buy anything with DRM – one day, you will lose it all.

And I’ll still have all my stuff.

May 10

Emp of reason

I’m not sure why I was reading this post as it’s about something that doesn’t really interest me, but I am glad I did for this portion and what follows.

I’m frequently confronted with a very seductive, corrupting empirical failing: the tendency to think “that which I cannot measure is not real.”

I see this all the time among the more empirically-minded. Even when statistical tools are used to guard (sort of) against this error of human cognition, people still fall prey to it, and to a huge extent, too.

I’m a weird hybrid – I straddle fields of human endeavor. I’m as comfortable reading a scientific paper in nearly any field as I am an analysis of the transition from Mannerism to Baroque, as interested in art and languages as I am in quantum chromodynamics. It might not be possible these days to be a polymath, but I still try. And sometimes I even succeed. (And no, I don’t enjoy being seen to be smart. I would do this if I were the only person left on earth. Even more so than I do now, as I’d have more time!)

Dancing lightly through so many fields, even if I am not truly skilled in them, I often notice fallacies and errors that others in those fields, having little experience and no knowledge of anything else, do not notice.

This “measurement fallacy” is one I see nearly everywhere. It’s sort of like misogyny that way, alas – once your eyes are open to it, it appears all over the place.

I’m not really sure how to combat it, as you can’t make people see something that is invisible to them. But once you do notice it, it’s just about everywhere.

May 09

Not my type

Of all the reasons I can not use Windows 8, terrible interface and becoming Microsoft “Window” aside, is that the type engine no longer supports RGB sub-pixel rendering and thus any fonts look like they were excreted from the ass end of a marmot.

Way to move font appearance back 20 years to gain a tiny bit of speed, Microsoft.

The fonts in 8 are so bad that even non-font people are complaining about them.

And that takes a lot, as I’ve noticed that non-font people can read fonts that feel like chainsaws in my eyes.

May 08

Leaning out

I haven’t read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, nor do I plan to.

But this post about a bit of the book got me thinking about career risk-taking and being male, and the things I’ve gotten away with in my career that a woman probably wouldn’t, or at least would likely be effectively trained out of doing both by culture and having more responsibilities.

When I was 26 years old, I applied to and was interviewed for a job that I was objectively not qualified for. I didn’t lie in my resume, nor in my interview – but what I did do was absolutely kill the interview and effortlessly strolled through every tech and other question like I’d already been doing the job for a decade. In the interview, I suspect I went from the bottom-of-the-list candidate to “We have to hire this guy.”

So a few days later I was offered the job, and had a decision to make. Do I accept this job for which I am probably unqualified for and might utterly fail at, or do I stay in my safe and comfortable position?

Of course I opted to make the leap.

Overnight, I went from having been a lowly helpdesk tech into managing the entire IT operations for a company with offices up and down the Eastern seaboard. My salary more than doubled. I had a personal assistant (alas, the only time and job I’ve ever had one) and pretty much carte blanche as long as things got done.

To put it into terms and jobs that more people would tend to be familiar with, I went from being the district attorney’s janitor to being the district attorney in one step, effectively.

And I did well at it, through both skill, gumption and making shit up as I went. I honestly didn’t like the job much, but it was an important career step and I was really good at it.

For various reasons – all cultural and reasonable, and perfectly rational – I don’t think many women would be in a position to do what I did. Hell, looking back, I am not sure that I’d do what I did all over again.

May 07


Let’s watch Carrie Rodriguez burn up the fiddle.

That guy on the upright bass in the last video also kills it. Wish it was more audible.