Jan 20


I’m not criticizing anyone for making a “wrong” decision (as there is no wrong decision in this case), rather merely stating what I think and what I would do. I was mulling over this tweet as I was writing this.

Were I a young, bright, potentially college-bound kid today, I would not under any circumstances go to college if I had to take on any more than about $10,000 in debt. The job prospects are just too uncertain and at least in the US that debt will follow you around (and grow) forever if you don’t manage to land a decent job. That debt is also not able to be discharged in bankruptcy.

Now, going to college at all unless you can pay for it in full or receive a full-ride scholarship is an enormous risk, just as risky as buying a house was at the height of the housing bubble.

Some people will come out ok – but many will lose everything. That’s the nature of risk, and you never really know which side you are going to be on until it all goes up in flames.

So what would I do were I 16 again and didn’t join the army (as I did in real life)? I’d quit high school, immediately get a GED, and get all the technical and related certifications I could find, preferably on the more exotic and/or up-and-coming IT and similar systems out there.

Then I’d have a guaranteed job for at least 10 years, making more than most college grads.

If you really do want to go to college, work for 6-7 years, and save like mad. If you get a decent, hard cert and start a “real” IT job at 21, you should be able to save something like $70,000 by the time you are 26. Then go to college all you like.

Jan 20

Windows 8 ain’t for workin’

John Scalzi thinks the same as I do about Windows 8. It’s for Fisher Price playtime, and not for working. The same of course is true for Unity, Gnome Shell, etc., though I think Windows 8 is by far the worst offender.

I did this because simply put I’ve come to believe the Win 8 start screen, and the whole environment it propagates is just terrible UI for those of us who actually use their computers for work, rather than using them just to play games and get on Facebook. When I’m working I often have several programs open in several windows, and have those windows up where I can see them all, because each window has information relevant to what I’m doing. If I need to access additional programs, I don’t want to have to leave that environment; it messes with work flow.

Reading tech sites and all those who proclaim to love Windows 8, I quickly realized how few so-called geeks actually do any more with their computers than play with them – as no one who actually does any work with a machine could ever really use Windows 8.

Unity I can kind of make useful for work though it slows me down a great deal, but Windows 8 is hopeless. It’s like being back in Windows 1.0 again.

I don’t see how some company can’t not come up with an OS oriented to professionals. These clownish OSes designed for clicking on Facebook and typing “ROTFL” are not acceptable for someone who needs to get actual work done.

Jan 18

The car RIAA

I’d read this before years ago, but I just re-realized that in England at least the car RIAA killed automobiles there for a long, long time.

The development of the steam car began in the late 1700s with the Industrial Revolution. By the mid-1800s people had invented practical steam-powered vehicles, but the automobile industry in England was abruptly hamstrung by the “red flag law”. Stage coach owners saw the writing on the wall with the invention of the automobile and took their case to Parliament. In 1831 Parliament passed a law that any automobile had to have a man walking in front of it waving a red flag. At night he had to carry a lantern. This ruined the English market for cars for the next 65 years because they were now too expensive to bother with.

The RIAA/MPAA have wished to do – and have effectively done this – with their copyright schemes and their suppression of free speech on the internet. Since the internet is completely new, it’s hard to accurately assay what we’ve lost, or rather not gained.

For somewhat-understandable reasons, people are spectacularly bad at gauging opportunity cost.

Jan 18

King Jimmy

If you read parts of the King James Bible as poetry, parts of it are quite beautiful.

Unlike most religious people, I have read all of the Christian bible.

Jan 18


I’m really not a fitness snob as I am no longer very fit myself, but when I hear people crowing about running an 11-minute mile or something like that, my brain goes, “What? Surely that’s wrong.”

Back in my day (kids), I routinely ran 6 minute miles and I was considered one of the slower runners in my army unit. I used to run/fast walk a 9-minute mile in 65 pounds of gear. Routinely.

I am glad even very slow runners are doing something to get fit, but my views are certainly skewed by having been in an army unit that is considered elite. (I say “considered elite” as this “elite” thing means you get to do way more crazy, unnecessary bullshit.) An 11-minute mile? What? Did you crawl most of the way? An 11-minute mile was what they expected of us if a leg had just been amputated, pukes! Winking smile

Jan 18



The simple fact is that an Australian entry-level fast food worker makes more than the average American worker. An absolute majority of Americans would increase their income if they moved to Australia and got fast food jobs.

And yet America is supposed to be this paradisiac land of pure awesomeness. As the article also points out, everyone in Australia is covered by health insurance as well.

Jan 18


I grew up in North Florida, near the Georgia border.

When I was a kid – 25 years ago – winters weren’t brutally cold or anything like that, but it always got cold enough to cause all of the plants to go brown and dormant (except evergreens, of course). In other words, I never saw a flower between and including November and February.

I live in Florida once again as an adult, and we sometimes return to the north of the state to visit the beautiful natural sights in the area.

Now, it’s different. I am able to easily find blooming flowers, sometimes in great quantity, throughout the winter. In addition and because of the availability of flowers, we also see butterflies all year long now in North Florida.

When I was a kid the last butterflies were usually gone by October, and didn’t return in number until April. I never, ever saw a butterfly in December there; now I see them commonly.

I realize it’s anecdotal, but I was a keen observer of nature when I was a kid. I spent most of nearly every day  outside, and was never that big into computer games or the like. (I played them when it was too hot or rainy or cold to be outside, but otherwise I was usually outdoors.)

Riding on the school bus, I’d literally count every flower or animal I saw on the way to school – so yep, pretty fucking sure I know what I am talking about here, climate change deniers.

So I don’t think it’s just my misperception.

North Florida is an ecotone, anyway – it’s the last stand of the northern forests as they shade into the more subtropical climate region that is most of Florida. It’s not surprising that such an area has been more noticeably altered by climate change.

But when I can notice such a large change in my lifetime, that’s a sign. A sign that it’s probably going to be worse than even our models predict.

Jan 17

Not large, still in charge

Hadn’t done an update on this in a while. After three years of changing my diet (I won’t say I’m on a diet, because I’m not and have never been), I am still within five pounds of my goal weight – below, actually. I continue to maintain approximately 27% below my peak body weight.

At one point I had lost too much weight and was too gaunt, but now I am stable and feel incredibly healthy. My knees no longer give me any real issues and my diabetes risk is much lowered.

I realize most people cannot lose and keep off weight, but I can and I have.

The strangest part is that if I increase my physical activity even a little, I start losing weight again really quickly – for instance, when I went to the UK and to a lesser extent Vancouver, I found I had to eat an additional 400-800 calories each day to avoid losing weight and feeling tired.

But it’s gone incredibly well and is probably the best health-related thing I’ve ever done.