Friday, May 18, 2018

Santa Fe High School Shooting

Time to roll out the conservative excuses for inaction in the face of the most dire need.

Florida Rain Event Approaches

Forecasts are beginning to moderate, and become more-predictable. Currently, the forecast is for a tropical depression to emerge from the Caribbean, not a tropical storm, with a rain event covering southern Florida (including Tampa), starting Thursday evening, May 24th, with possibly a second rain event following up in early June.

Philanthropic Greed

Silicon Valley gives big to philanthropy, but that money gets locked up, not spent. Defeats the purpose of philanthropy:
Yet Sacred Heart Community Service, a San Jose nonprofit that helps low-income families with food, clothing, heating bills, and other services, actually received less in individual donations from the community in 2017 than it did the previous year. “We’re still not sure what it could be attributed to,” Jill Mitsch, the funds development manager at Sacred Heart, told me. It’s not the only nonprofit trying to keep donations up—the United Way of Silicon Valley folded in 2016 amidst stagnant contributions.

That’s not to say that Silicon Valley’s wealthy aren’t donating their money to charity. ... But much of that money is not making its way out into the community.

There are many reasons for this, but one of them is likely the increasing popularity of a certain type of charitable account called a donor-advised fund. These funds allow donors to receive big tax breaks for giving money or stock, but have little transparency and no requirement that money put into them is actually spent.

...Donor-advised funds are categorized by law as public charities, rather than private foundations, so they have no payout requirements and few disclosure requirements. Because they’re categorized as public charities, donors can give a higher share of their income to these funds than they could to a private foundation, which can help them avoid taxes.

Starry Night

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Trump Appeases the North Koreans

Trump throws John Bolton under the bus. Probably not enough, though:
“The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have at all,” Trump told reporters during a photo session with the visiting secretary general of NATO. “We decimated that country.” By contrast, if the U.S. reaches a deal with North Korea, Kim will “get protections that would be very strong,” Trump said. “He will have very adequate protection.”

A Good Time To Pile On

Aaron Schlossberg, POS:
On his Linkedin profile, Aaron Schlossberg says he studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, while in college. He also writes that he speaks four languages, French, Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. On his law firm’s website, Schlossberg promotes his ability to speak those languages to his clients.

“Aaron M. Schlossberg doesn’t seem to mind people who speak other languages when he can make money from them,” one Twitter user commented. Another seconded that statement, tweeting, “For the record, I’d like to point out that when the ball bag Aaron M. Schlossberg wants your money, he gladly speaks numerous languages.” And a third tweeted, “Anyone else notice Schlossberg’s website? Does he call ICE after he takes your money? #DespicableHumanBeing”

Don't Underestimate Hawaiian Volcanoes

RIP, Margaret Gidding

Many fond memories. RIP, Margaret Gidding.

A short film clip of Margaret Gidding dancing with Laure Courtellemont on December 5, 2014. (I was outside the room because I had a cold.)

Margaret was also part of this PSA (filmed November 10, 2012; choreographer Krystle Morales):

And this film clip:

Checking In With The Cardio Doctor

I’d been pleased with my tolerance of blood thinner. Turned out, I was taking only half the recommended dose. D’oh!

Nice view of historic Ft. Sutter. Thar’s gold in dem dere medical suites!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

No TV For Me, For Now

The DirecTV fellow came by, and immediately objected to using the previous DirecTV antenna. New rules specify that their workers can't stand on roofs to reach the antenna, and the old antenna was accessed by standing on the roof of the shed. He wanted instead to lean a ladder against the gutter and mount the new antenna on the roof - a considerable distance up there - but I objected to what I saw as the potential isntability of a ladder leaning against the gutter. So, I elected to cancel the installation. Sean Hannity will just have to wait....

Yanny vs. Laurel

Today's hot item. Myself, I hear Laurel.

Here's what my Echometer provides. Saying the name spans the x-axis (time) from 50 milliseconds to 450 milliseconds. The bottom display covers the full range of hearing of a young person, from 0 to 20 kilohertz. Most of the world we hear is below 4 kHz. The upper display shows overall magnitude of the sound. There do seem to be quieter frequencies (2, 6 and 9 kHz). A good portion of the sound from 4 to 6 kHz continues after the word is said, suggesting significant background noise at these frequencies. The "L" sound seems to have components up to 13 kHz frequency. Maybe these are harder to hear for older folks. The "R" sound may include that ghostly 16 kHz spike - maybe also harder to hear. Still, I doubt it's that simple. If so, older people would be unable to understand speech.

This article is most interesting. The folks here say it depends on pitch:
One of the more interesting things to come out of the yanny/laurel debate was the discovery that, by changing the pitch of the recording, you could adjust what you heard. In general, people heard yanny more consistently when the pitch was lower and laurel when the pitch was higher.

Facebook Fakes

Impressive. Nearly a third of all Facebook accounts are fake. Facebook has only recently realized it has many nemeses, and who knows if it can survive?
Meanwhile, Facebook’s rate of squashing fake accounts is decreasing. The site removed 583 million fake accounts in the first quarter of the year, roughly 100 million fewer than were removed in the last quarter of 2017. The company attributed the decline to the "variability of our detection technology's ability to find and flag" fakes. A Washington Post report this month found that the company’s facial-recognition tool, which the company says could help spot impostor accounts, reviews only a small fraction of the site’s roughly 2 billion monthly active users.

Toto's "Africa," in Gaelic


At Awesome Video’s going-out-of-business sale, I picked up a DVD of “Rubber,” a 2011 movie about a vengeful tire with psychokinetic powers wandering across the Mojave Desert. Watched it Monday night. The movie is pretty dumb, but vaguely entertaining. I like this review:
I developed a theory while watching Rubber. I honestly believe the filmmakers set out to make the most unwatchably pretentious, utterly repetetive, vile nonsense they could possibly come up with and then laugh hysterically at all of the morons who pull some kind of "unique hidden meaning" out of it. The film opens with a pointless opening monologue, followed by a three minute sequence of a tire "waking up", both of which had me scrambling for the fast forward button. Then things went sharply downhill from there. There's only about 30 minutes of actual content here, the rest is just one long shot of a tire rolling around after another after another until you want to cry. I love unique and quirky films with a passion but this film is neither, no matter how hard it tries to be. It's grating, irritating, stretched-out, inane, fatuous, embarrassing boredom on a piece of celluloid.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! Marjorie Louise Buzzell, 1941 graduate of Hirschfield High School in Chicago, IL.

More on MH370 Pilot's Motives

Four years on, experts think they are finally beginning to understand some of the motives of the pilot of doomed flight MH370 (perhaps rage at Anwar Ibrahim's sentence, delivered that day in court in a session attended by the pilot), and his evasive path along the Thai-Malaysian border. In particular, he changed course at Penang, in order to get one last look at his hometown, before vanishing forever:
There has been much speculation as to why the plane went so far off course and “dipped the wing” over Penang before making a sharp turn and heading south for the next six hours. According to Mr Hardy, it was so the pilot could see his hometown one last time.

“I spent a long time thinking about what this could be, what technical reason is there for this?” he said.

“And after two months, three months of thinking about it, I finally got the answer — somebody was looking out the window.

“It might [have been] a long, emotional goodbye or a short, emotional goodbye to his hometown.”