Log in

No account? Create an account


This is what is wrong with for-profit health care.

A quote (from Alison Kosik, business "analyst" for CNN): "...what it also did is institute a situation...where these insurers have to spend more of their premium money on actual medical claims."

Mother fucker. What a terrible state of affairs for insurers.

The entire segment made me profoundly queasy, but that line stood out as annoying. That and the idea that these companies are "...heavily exposed to Medicare...." When did the business you chose to be involved in became your risks to be avoided? I suppose it is only risk when you have to, you know, cover people's medical costs.

(PS: I elided a mid-quote reference to the interviewer's name, nothing else.)

Finance != Free Enterprise

You blew the second chance you got with TARP to re-enter society as a productive component of commerce. You went back to bonus-swilling, full-retard mode as though nothing ever happened and 13 million people weren't sitting around in their post credit-bubble joblessness for three years now. Your tone-deafness and utter disconnection from the rest of the country has produced something extraordinary - You've managed to awaken one of the most indolent, lethargic and apathetic populaces in the history of the world. You've now stirred a slumbering nation of 300 million from it's Entennman's and Zoloft-induced stupor. America is awake now and it's pissed.

Good luck with that.
Source here.

Via dynamicsymmetry.

RFC: Some New Internet Metrics (01)

So I have never heard of this particular metric being defined; if you have, let me know. If not, I'm naming it now.

Flame Retardancy: (Applied to blog posts or posts in online forums.) The (integer) number of comments replying to a post before the first obvious flame comment. Simple rule: figure out which comment is the flame, then subtract 1.


[1] Flame retardancy is always subject to revision over time.

[2] If the original blog or forum post is the flame, then the flame retardancy of the post is defined to be negative infinity (-∞).

[3] If there are no flame comments, then the effective flame retardancy of the post is infinity (∞). In the entire history of the internet this has never happened.

[4] This definition is for linear comments; if the forum allows for threading and unthreading use the linear format. If not, we define the flame retardancy without counting replies to comments. This means flame retardancy measures across different forum types may be meaningless without some standardization. (This definition is for convenience; I'm open to suggestions for fixing this.)

[5] Obviously this metric has some (slight) subjective qualities.


I think I want to be a "futurist." Anyone got a clue how to do that?

Why do University Registrars Lie?

As you might have picked up on over time, I have attended about 7 colleges and universities as a student in some capacity. Every now and again I have to prove that I went to these schools or earned a degree there. All of these schools provide transcripts for this purpose.

Some of the schools charge for these transcripts, some give them for free; some require that the request be made via US Mail, others do not; some have farmed out the requests to a third-party whose sole purpose appears to be to add a "transaction fee" to the process. For any given set of rules I can find an exception. It has ranged from a fully electronic transaction, to electronic signatures, to PINs, to faxes of letters with a visible signature, to actual US Mail letters to preserve the "original-ness" of the signatures. Some actually say the signatures are required, others don't even ask.

Every one of these schools says that they do what they do because of FEDERAL law. Yet, none of them do the same thing.

I call shenanigans.

I guess if I had only gone to one or two schools there is a chance that I'd have never noticed, but come on. Blaming Federal law for local policy is just bullshit. Isn't it?


Facebook is a party; Livejournal is the nerds hanging out in the kitchen at that party.


Tool Overload

[NB: That is a great title for a porn film.]

A long time ago I stated that people today have little excuse for not doing creative things as the tools of creativity are out there. Not only are many (most?) of them free (beer/libre) but in many cases industry standard tools are open and readily available. I was a little off, the arts/design/music communities still live primarily by proprietary cash-up-front rules. But even there professional or near professional quality tools exist (e.g. Blender, GIMP) and a lot more have been added (e.g. Mixxx, Harmony, Divvr) or improved (Inkscape, GIMP) since my original post.

If we look to creativity beyond the arts, there is even more. Google any of these (try tacking on the search term "software" if you don't land on a FLOSS page): R, Maxima, python (pythonXY, Enthought, Active State Python), scipy, numpy, PIL, pypes, pyf, SAGE, CouchDB, joomla, drupal, CSSgenerator, RedR, Orange, Weka 3; along with the usual suspects: Pencil, blender, GIMP, Inkscape; and the list goes on and on. There are also support tools: Eclipse, vi, vim, Cream, Emacs, Komodo, the GNU compilers/toolchain; just to list the ones needed for software development (which you may or may not need for your project). Typesetting Egyptian hieroglyphs is trivial and free, as is Arabic, Hebrew, Thai, Sanskrit, and any other typographical system that I had to handwrite when I was a kid. If you don't like the fonts available there are metafont, fontforge, and dozens of tools for fixing that. Need live web based automatically updating maps? try openlayers or use a python package. Need to restructure the information on the web? use Yahoo Pipes. Don't trust proprietary Yahoo software? use Pyf, pypes, pipe2py to pull the Yahoo pipe to a local executable on your computer. Or serve it from Google's App Engine.

Storage and hosting is not as much of a problem as it used to be. Google has free space for low-activity projects. Need a cloud? Google, Amazon EC2, Yahoo, and there's more. (Mathcloud?) Development frameworks for the web with free hosting? Kodingen. (Almost) everyting above is free of charge, at least for usage that does not become the next web fad. (Even Google wants a cut when your awesome application gets a million hits in one day.) Hell, even web standards are helping you out--things you used to need Flash for are more or less standardized in html5. (Ok, if you <3 flash, it's not going anywhere. For a while. But now is not the time to start learning it. Especially at what Adobe sucks out of your wallet.)

Seriously--this is not even a beginning of a list.

So while the excuse of "I have a great idea but can't get the tools to implement it" does not apply anymore, there is a new problem.

Tool overload.

All of these frameworks are in different states of development. Most of them either don't communicate, can't interchange code or data, or if they do one of these things they do it badly. It used to be that if you needed a database for an application you used mysql. It may have not been the best for the job, but it was the tool of choice. Now you have to think. Do you want a fat server? use mysql; C/python/C++ and local storage? use sqlite. Need scalability and flexibility and access from Javascript? CouchDB is your new best friend.

There is a sense in which less is more. Sometimes jumping in and using the only tool available is good for getting you going. Picking the right tool is often harder. This is why refactoring, design patterns, agile development (extreme development, scrum) are all a new part of the creative life; at least that part of creative life that uses new technological tools. Software development might not be the worst class to add to an art school education.

Which isn't the worst thing in the world. After all, any author not running--at least--a minimal version management system is just waiting for bad afternoon to happen. And if you going to develop "new media art" is it really the worst thing in the world to learn how it works?

Lewis Black!

Tickets for Lewis Black tomorrow night. Neither me nor wife sick. My teeth still hurt but not too badly. So it's on. Should be a good show.

Posted via LjBeetle

Ignorance is a choice.

No matter how many times I see it, no matter how many times I learn it, no matter...

People are not only stupider than I imagine, they are stupider than I can imagine.

I know we don't teach thinking, problem solving, or reasoning in school, but-- Oh fuck. Just. That.