17 February 2014

Harry who?

I’ve often thought that in a way, it must have been easier to be a great world-famous philosopher, artist, scientist or whatever back in the distant past, because there was so much less competition. Sure, Aristotle was a great philosopher, but his ideas about the laws of motion were crackpot stuff. Plus, there were fewer than 200m people in the world at that time. So that’s like being one of the smartest guys posting on LinkedIn. ... Read more

13 February 2014

The terrible cost of free doughnuts

During the Second World War, the Red Cross provided free doughnuts to US troops fighting in Europe. Then they started charging 2¢ for a doughnut and coffee. 70 years later, veterans still haven’t gotten over that betrayal. NPR Planet Money explain why: basically, it comes down to the special nature of “free”, and the fact that the change altered the perceived relationship between the Red Cross and the veterans, from “friendly charity” to “money-making business”. ... Read more

4 February 2014

Running a web site in 2014

I recently did some work on the back end of my web sites. I consolidated all the individual WordPress installs into a single multi-user one, cleaned up the database to free up disk space, and slimmed down the number of plugins. I’m taking advantage of Automattic’s Jetpack plugin to provide functionality that previously required a bunch of third party plugins, including: Markdown support (including in comments) “Like” buttons for social network sharing Mobile device support Push notifications when someone comments Comment login via social networks E-mail subscriptions It wasn’t long before I got some mild negative feedback: My changing the login system meant that some comments got flagged as spam which shouldn’t have been, so I had to go in and unflag them. ... Read more

1 February 2014

TSA queue-jumpers: a rant

Remember the story about how rich people were hiring disabled people to accompany them in Disneyland, so that they could skip the lines for the popular rides? Remember how it turned out that there was an official service to let rich people skip the lines at Disneyland? Does it make you feel angry when some entitled 1%er gets to cut in front like that, just because they have money to burn? ... Read more

28 January 2014


This morning, Austin Texas had freezing rain. There were 90 car crashes within an hour or so. Texans just have no idea how to drive in bad weather. I’ve driven in Minnesota, in winter, in the middle of a blizzard — and lived. I’ve driven in ice storms on black ice. Frankly, the situation in Austin today would be no big deal, if it wasn’t for the sheer incompetence of so many Texas drivers. ... Read more

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