~ Archive for Uncategorized ~

What to do with the net neutrality bureaucrats?


The haters (i.e., the Republicans) on the FCC voted today (nytimes) to kill off the net neutrality enforcement rules.

Let’s assume that the government can’t fire anyone. What do readers want to see the bureaucrats who were enforcing net neutrality doing?

My personal suggestion: find a way to stop spam phone calls (see Set a minimum price for phone calls?)

Better ideas?

Psychotherapy in the bitcoin mania days


At a party on Sunday, an anesthesiologist friend told me that she was happy to be earning real money, finally, after ten years of training. Other folks were talking about bitcoin. Now these two scenarios can be compared with an online calculator: Bitcoin v. Medical School.

Please test it out and let us know what you think!

(Also, any HTML or design ideas would be welcome.  The OG markup for Facebook sharing links to this photo of a bitcoin investor hard at work and it would be nice to work the photo into the design somehow. Maybe add one of a doctor studying?)

Why are modern browsers so bad at rendering old HTML pages?


https://philip.greenspun.com/flying/ is a web page from about 15 years ago. It is barely readable with Chrome on the iPhone. The HTML is super simple: a table with two cells and a hint to the browser to give 50 percent of the screen width to the first column. The phone can do voice recognition (well, sort of). Why can’t Chrome figure out a reasonable way to render this? (There were actually a bunch of research papers back in the 1990s about how to adapt web pages to the mobile devices of the day; nobody ever said “one day we’ll be able to get SXGA resolution into a postage stamp-sized area on the screen, so let’s just scale the thing down dimensionally”.)

My congestion pricing dream coming true in Northern Virginia


For years I have dreamed that U.S. state and local governments can escape their pension-commitment and healthcare-commitment insolvency while simultaneously freeing Americans from the agony of traffic jams. It seems that my dream of congestion pricing for driving is coming true in Virginia: “A $40 Toll to Drive 10 Miles? It Happened on Virginia’s I-66” (nytimes).

One glitch from my point of view: the toll is $0 for a car containing two people, which will generate just as much congestion as a car containing one person. (Do carpool lanes actually encourage significant numbers of people to carpool? I myself end up in them sometimes, but invariably because my passenger is someone with whom I would be sharing the trip anyway.)

Hand-spun milkshakes at Five Guys


Why I love Corporate America #472: A sign outside our local Five Guys proclaims “hand-spun milkshakes.”

We walked in and found… an apparently conventional milkshake machine. We asked one of the crew what it all meant. “It’s exactly the same as a milkshake at McDonald’s,” he explained.

Under-exercised dogs on Prozac?


A neighbor has a boisterous young adult 80-lb. Golden-Poodle mix who is kept confined to the kitchen (so that he doesn’t mess up the house/shed) and walked for about one hour per day. I ran into her in the woods the other day. Her dog was beyond excited to see and play with Mindy the Crippler and, of course, knocked over our 2-year-old a couple of times (he also tried to pull down said 2-year-old by his hood). She said that the beast was barking at night and she was going to put him on Prozac, at the vet’s recommendation, to calm him down at home and also for an upcoming kennel stay while the family goes to Europe.

This got me wondering if Medication Nation has reached our canines. Kids that are energetic and don’t want to sit still for six hours per day in school are put on meds, right? Now we’re doing the same thing to dogs? I wonder if this dog would be fine if he had 2-3 hours of daily exercise and full access to the house/family.

Free college education for anyone willing to identify as “undocumented”?


Harvard puts up signs in the Yard apparently welcoming anyone who can pay $73,600/year:

[“Wherever you are from… You are home.” — lifted from Burning Man?]

Actually the offer is more generous than initially apparent because Harvard promises free tuition, room, and board for children from any family earning less than $65,000 year (source).

Is there a clear path for almost anyone to get a free ride through Harvard? Harvard doesn’t ask for a birth certificate, right? There is no public record of who has a U.S. passport, right? So anyone who is admitted to Harvard can say “I am an undocumented immigrant.” At that point Harvard cannot ask for any authoritative financial forms. The applicant can simply say “I don’t know what my parents’ immigration status is and I would feel uncomfortable asking for their IRS 1040 returns.”

https://college.harvard.edu/i-am-undocumented-am-i-still-eligible-financial-aid says

If you are undocumented you are eligible for financial aid from Harvard. Harvard makes no distinction based on citizenship in the financial aid process or in the amount of aid for which students are eligible. Undocumented students do not need to file a FAFSA since they are not eligible to apply for federal aid.

Readers: What do you think? There are procedures for proving that one is documented, e.g., producing a passport. But there is no procedure for proving that someone is undocumented. Is there then a clear path to free tuition, room, and board?




A good machine-readable free source of stock quotes?


The Bill Gates Personal Wealth Clock, described in the “Sites that are really programs” chapter of my 1990s book on web development, is broken because the attempt to grab a price from Yahoo Finance now results in “It has come to our attention that this service is being used in violation of the Yahoo Terms of Service. As such, the service is being discontinued. For all future markets and equities data research, please refer to finance.yahoo.com.” (they paid Marissa Mayer that they couldn’t afford to respond to a few quote requests per day anymore?)

What’s a good source for getting stock quotes in a simple format designed to be read by a computer program? I would want at least MSFT and BTC-USD.

Dating Tips


From a Facebook friend: a helpful list of 10 things to talk about on a first date. Some excerpts:

  • How do you work to dismantle sexism and misogyny in your life?
  • What is your understanding of settler colonialism and indigenous rights?
  • Do you think capitalism is exploitative?
  • Can any human be illegal?
  • Does your allyship include disabled folks? (pro tip: don’t ridicule the wheelchair-bound diner at the adjacent table, though it might be okay to condemn wheelchair-bound sex criminals)

The good news is that there is a correct answer to each of these questions!

How was the immigration of Akayed Ullah supposed to benefit native-born Americans?


According to “New York attack: What do we know about Akayed Ullah?” (BBC):

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Ullah entered the US on an F43 visa.

This means he was the child of someone with an F41 visa, which is available to people who are the “brother or sister of a US citizen at least 21 years old”.

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission told CNN that Ullah held a taxi driver’s licence from March 2012 to March 2015.

The Inspector General of Police in Bangladesh, AKM Shahidul Haque, said Ullah had no criminal record in Bangladesh.

In light of the Port Authority bombing that he perpetrated, it seems safe to say Mr. Ullah’s life in the U.S. didn’t turn out well either for him or for us, but what was the best case scenario for native-born Americans? Mr. Ullah’s education and skills were presumably appropriate to the taxi-driving job that we expect to be eliminated by robots. Mr. Ullah settled in a city that most Americans regarded as already overcrowded when he immigrated.

[Mr. Ullah was a law-abiding citizen in Bangladesh, according to the BBC, so he likely would have been better off staying there.]

Readers: What is the theory that drove us to welcome Mr. Ullah?


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