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Ben McCandless
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Ben McCandless

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I just stumbled upon a fascinating short story: Manna, by Marshall Brain.  It examines the fine line that divides a technological utopia from technological dystopia.  It's pretty short, only eight chapters, with roughly 30 paragraphs per chapter.

What really struck me was how much this echos back to one of my favorite books: For us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs.  This was written by Robert Heinlein in 1938, but was only published in 2003.  (It's an interesting story, that delay, but not one for this post)  The resemblance is clear, despite the 60+ years difference in age.

I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so take a break and spend 30 minutes reading it.  Once you've done that, I'd be interested to hear what everyone thinks.

Once you've read that, check your motivation level.  If things look good, go to the library and check out that Heinlein book.  Take a couple of days and read that.  I'm REALLY interested to see what people think of it, and how the two paint similar pictures of the future.

And what direction you think we are heading . . .
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Ben McCandless

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The white house released it's response to a petition to build a death star.  I think they hit exactly the right note.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/isnt-petition-response-youre-looking
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I read "floating robot assistants" as "floating robot assasins".  Not sure if I was disappointed or not when I re-read it.
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Ben McCandless

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Testing out Windows 8 - It's mindbending.  Not bad, but strange.

Most recent WTF: Microsoft does not allow spaces in passwords.

http://www.osnews.com/images/comics/wtfm.jpg
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Ben McCandless

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O weekend, where art thou?
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Ben McCandless

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JDS 2819 - The source of my most recent dose of adrenaline.

Pulled out of the traffic lane, into the bike lane, just as I was going by.  Came within a few inches of hitting me.

Gotta watch out, people!
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Ben McCandless

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Waiting for the NRA statement congratulating the child for taking his safety into his own hands, and that if only more kids had guns, the world would be a better place...
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Too much fun.
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Well, we've had a day to recalibrate ourselves after the election.  (No adverts! Still too much election talk though.)  We've learned some interesting things though:

1) Nate Silver had the election just about pegged.  A lot of talking heads demonstrated their ignorance of statistics and polling.  The Cato institute, a libertarian think-tank, has a guy by the name of Julian Sanchez who has a great blog* that I'd recommend to anyone: http://www.juliansanchez.com/.  Today's post is called "A Method to their Mathlessness" and is a better summary of the situation than I intend to offer here.

2) Romney lost every swing state except North Carolina.  This ought to prompt some soul searching on the part of the GOP.  The margins weren't great, but imagine what would have happened if the economy had been slightly better, or if the tragedy in Benghazi had been avoided.

3) The popular vote was fairly close: 48/50 split for Obama (that's a difference of about 3 million votes).  I don't think that there'll be any charges that the election was stolen, and hopefully I won't be waking up with flashbacks to 2000.  However, the GOP is going to have to look into expanding it's base if it wants to take back the presidency and the senate.  Right now, it's the party of old white men, and demographics says that won't work much longer.  They need more youth, more women, more African Americans, more Hispanics.  To appeal to any of these groups, some of the old ideology is going to have to go.  (I know it hurts guys, but so does irrelevance.)

4) The Democrats fortunes sure changed over the course of the election season.  They went from possibly losing control of the senate to picking up three seats in both houses (This despite the fact that they had more seats at risk in the House than the Republicans did.)

5) I'm sure all of you guys out there knew this already, but you piss off women at your peril.  Akin, Mourdock, and Walsh all lost their bids for reelection.  Akin and Moudock's comments on rape and abortion appear to have doomed what were otherwise pretty safe seats.

6) Arizona looks to be experiencing a leftward shift.  Compare the 2008 and 2012 exit polls from that state, and tell me something interesting isn't happening.  (http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/results/president/exit-polls?gwh=1C3D503A017433EEB2E1E5AE3BA78080)

6) The gobs of money available for campaigning after the Citizen's United decision sure made for a nasty election season.  I was somewhat surprised to find out how little effect it seemed to have on the outcome.  Some people who received truly incredible backing still lost.  It's not very often that I find I was being too cynical.

7) Total number of voters in the 2008 election: 129.4 million.  In 2012: 118.3 million.  My read on this is that a lot of people sat this election out for whatever reason (FYI: there's no acceptable reason to not vote, in my mind).  If you break this down a bit further, you can see that Obama got about 8.9 million fewer votes this time when compared to '08 and Romney got 2.2 million fewer votes than McCain.  This suggests some interesting things about demographics that I'm going to have to dig into further.

Anyhow, there's a collection of things that I thought was interesting.  I think my essay will be "An Open Letter to Congress (Raise my taxes)"  We'll see if I work up the enthusiasm for that in the near future.    I'm curious what other interesting tidbits people picked up on, so feel free to leave comments.

-Ben
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* He's a philosophy major, if I recall correctly, and occasionally he'll get a bit too technical for my taste, but when he discusses issues or events, I find that he seems to have good insight.
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Yesterday's "I'm bad at math" or "my priorities are screwed up" moment:

“A full 70 percent of Americans get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes," Paul Ryan, Vice presidential Candidate.

Let's look at a few alternatives to this statement:

1) “A full 70 percent of Americans get LESS benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes"  This would indicate that the government is a colossal waste of my cash, right?  Glad this isn't the case

2) “A full 30 percent of Americans get more benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes”  This is the SAME THING AS 1, but sounds a bit more like everyone is carrying a couple slackers.  Glad that's not the case.

3) “A full 30 percent of Americans get less benefits in dollar value from the federal government than they pay back in taxes.” This is the SAME THING AS THE ORIGINAL STATEMENT, and it sounds like a pretty reasonable situation: Most people get more value than they put into it, and the government brings economies of scale to the table that are not otherwise available.  

So, looking at the original statement and the four variants, I'd say it's an easy choice: I want the original or statement 3 to be true.  And it is!  THIS IS GREAT! (Unless you are running for president, in which case you probably shouldn't have brought this up in the first place.)
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lolololol
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I am sitting at my table right now, weeping because I cannot possibly fit another bite. This is, in all likelihood, the best meal I have ever had.
Public - 2 months ago
reviewed 2 months ago
I've been here four or five times now for lunch, and the food is really good every time. The all-you-can-eat pasta trio always has something fantastic.
Public - 5 months ago
reviewed 5 months ago
Everything I've tried has been excellent. Andy is definitely the most personable sushi chef I know. One thing I like is that he frequently offers customers a piece of something special that he's mixed up. Yesterday, it was tempura salmon, with sauce, some days it's spring rolls, some days it's a piece of nigiri - every day is a surprise.
Public - 5 months ago
reviewed 5 months ago
Location has closed.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
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A good place for a great lunch. I enjoyed the lobster roll - I'll be back.
Public - 5 months ago
reviewed 5 months ago
My wife and I like to go here for special occasions. We have never had a dish here that was anything less than delicious.
Public - 7 months ago
reviewed 7 months ago