So sad! Our very own Port Townsend-based, stickin'-it-to-the-man libertarian-style book publisher is going out of business. The silver lining? All of their great books are 50% off—from How to Be an Ass-Whipping Boxer to Techniques of Safecracking to Frauds, Rip-offs, and Con Games. In other words, pretty much everything that when you were 12 years old (and, um, a boy, I guess) that you expected to learn how to do at some point anyway. Get 'em while you can. If I weren't headed out of town this weekend, I'd probably go browse the shelves in person. (Thanks, Wolf!)
Ah, so many great titles...
Compound interest can be really difficult to visualize, whether you're earning it or paying it—which is too bad, because the effect of paying just a little more towards your prinicipal or saving just a little more on an IRA can have a big impact over the long term.
If you're carrying any credit card debt, check out this elegant little tool from a cool MIT professor named John Maeda that helps you chart out what you're in for (and, with a little experimentation, helps you figure out how to pay things off more quickly):
If you don't have any credit card debt but you're still looking for reasons to be depressed, check out Maeda's "Springs Remaining" Life Counter:
I would totally use a "Springs Remaining" desktop calendar.
Sorry if you've seen this already:
Found on Kotaku. Also via Kotaku, a "terrorist guild" has been hilariously holding new content on a server hostage. ("[T]hey refuse to do it until someone pays them 5,000 gold. They say they’d rather be known as the obnoxious guild that held their server hostage than forgotten as the kind guild that opened new content.")
Did you know that you can just make your own damn checks now? It's taken me a million years to go through my current box, given how seldomly I write checks, and the promise of Katamari checks and the like has certainly upped my post-millennial expectations, check-wise.
W/o having thought this through properly (perhaps the best time to move forward with this plan, really), I'm envisioning a "Great Battles in History" motif for my future checks. I'm going to start with Agincourt, of course:
The key, obviously, would be where to crop. It would be nice to get your signature lined up with that Frank imapled by the English arrow, but then you lose the cool pikeman. If anybody wants in on this, I think I could also add Trafalgar and Bannockburn and maybe the last half-hour of Hard Boiled to the first batch. Or maybe I could do some sort of P.J. Wodehouse series. (Did you know that they're mostly—entirely?—public domain?) Or there's always the spectacular image of Ray Smuckles hissing. But I wouldn't know what to send Chris Onstad as a royalty. Besides, with that kind of check, you'd want to start in the 10000s.
In 1889. And 10, 11, or 12 in half the states. I thought that was a *medieval* thing. What can you conceivably consent to at 7yo, besides like agreeing to put on a warmer coat? Also, in 2001 three-quarters of American schoolgirls agreed that "everyone needed to be married." Eighty-eight percent of Japanese schoolgirls disagreed with the same statement. All that and more in a short Pop Quiz on Marriage in the NYT this a.m., as New York gets ready to vote on whether to be the last state to approve no-fault divorce.
Maybe that Japan figure isn't so surprising given the whole weird enjo kosai thing, although apparently the quiz-makers were glad to toss that in as "just another modern society" with a misleadingly phrased question. Is it American and Japanese "women" or "schoolgirls"? (By the way, if you can't remember a Japanese phrase like, say, enjo kosai, don't expect Google searches for "Japanese schoolgirl" to help you any.)
Because arguably I owe you some much more pleasant photos at this point. I usu. end up sifting through Flickr looking for good random desktop images, but these are way better: some really lovely Russian Lomo shots from Dalton's pal Chad, e.g.,
Get both folders from Chad's site. If you set the jet one to rotate, it's almost like... you're flying? Well, barely at all, really. But kind of. Sort of. In a sense.
See that guy's khaki boots? You paid for those. And for the El Marko used to misspell "rapist" on that other guy's butt. And for the bag of Fritos that the misspeller ate when he was all done with the hoods that you also paid for. You *literally* paid for them. I just sent a few thousand bucks to the U.S. Treasury for my quarterly government-incompetence payment last month, and I really couldn't be feeling better about it right now.
Maybe if every American had to look at all these photos (in particular, the shotgun wound is really nice), we might actually have some accountability. (See Reuters if you want the classy Ken Burns' effect video.) Sixty more photos will be broadcast on an Australian news program called Dateline tonight, but maybe eventually some will get onto an actual American show—and the reach of a network news-show combined with America's CSI-whetted appetite for gore and poop and prurience will get these pics into more mainstream homes.
It wasn't "a few bad apples", by any stretch. Not even an *officer*—let alone a government offical like Rumsfeld—has been held accountable; there is no command responsibility. It's not about whether to "take the gloves off" with terrorists—it's about policy that's incompetently conceived, strategically counterproductive, and morally disgusting.
If only reductions in our taxes could match the reductions in our government's competence. At least then we'd be getting closer to what we paid for—on Iraq, on the GWOT, on insane earmark-fueled deficits, on Katrina and the DHS, on nuclear proliferation, etc. We should be getting refund checks, not sending these people more money.
All right, I'm wasting my breath, I know. Currently, I'm with Bruce Willis (ranting kind of insanely but also inspiringly in an interview for "16 Blocks"):
"I'm a Republican only as far as I want a smaller government, I want less government intrusion, I want them to stop pissing on my money and your money, the tax dollars that we give 50 per cent of or 40 per cent of every year, and I want them to be fiscally responsible, and I want these goddamn lobbyists out of Washington. Do that and I'll say I'm a Republican. But other than that, I want the government to take care of people who need help, like the kids in foster care, the half a million kids who are in orphanages right now, they call them foster homes but they're orphanages. I want them to take care of the elderly and give them free medicine, give them whatever they need. There's tons, billions and billions of dollars that are just being wasted. Okay? I hate government. I'm apolitical. Write that down. I'm not a Republican."
Found this sign yesterday at the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNiFf) where my grandparents are staying for just another day or two. With any luck, they'll come home to their old place on Valentine's Day. This has been the last weekend of leading them through the maze of health care (my grandfather's money quote last week: "We're spending our final days in prison"), and when I go down again (probably this weekend) we'll be dealing with all the legal, business stuff to help handle all future entropy.
I love that sign (on a wall near the common room in the very depressing SNF), not least because the month is *wrong*. But, really, who cares? I've seen this January and this February, and there's not a huge difference. I'm sure that's only more true at the SNF.
It got me thinking about overspecificity when talking about time in general: I bet that's one of the biggest complaints from people in the past re: time travelers. The time travelers would be all like, "I'm from the year 2317!" And the people in the past are all like, "Dude, I can't even imagine what the world will be like 20 years from now. There's no way I'm getting my head around the subtle trends of the late 2310s." I would also think that people from the future would tend to talk too loud. ("Jesus, I'm not *deaf*—I'm just from the *past*.")