Three Centuries

This is the sort of statistical oddity that I obsess over.

In the entire world – eight billion people – there is one person alive known to have been born in the 19th century.  And she turns 117 today:

Born November 29, 1899, [Emma Morano] is the world’s oldest living person and the secret to her longevity appears to lie in eschewing usual medical wisdom.

“I eat two eggs a day, and that’s it. And cookies. But I do not eat much because I have no teeth,” she told AFP in an interview last month in her room in Verbania, a town in northern Italy on Lake Maggiore.

Apropos not much.

Alert The Nobel Committee

Our knowledge of the universe keeps expanding. Every year we make discoveries about the world and universe around us that make the Nobel Prize breakthroughs of previous years seem like nursery rhymes. Every new wave of discoveries pushes out the frontiers of human knowledge to levels that would leave the greatest thinkers of days gone by standing slack-jawed and agog.

And yet even the most brilliant of theoretical physicists knows that there are things that mankind may never, ever have the instrumentation, the knowledge, and even the imagination to measure.

Like my hatred of Twitter.

Happy Anniversary!

Nobody who was in Minnesota in 1991 needs to be reminded; today’s the 25th anniversary of the Halloween Blizzard.

I’m not sure if the blizzard caught everyone by surprise, but it sure fooled me.  I remember seeing the first snowflake that morning as I picked my mom up for the airport – she was back from Turkey – against a fairly pleasant-looking October sky.

By that evening, we were thoroughly stuck out at my in-laws, with a 3 month old, a 10 year old, my at-the-time wife and my mother.

For three days.

So yeah, I remember it.

On a more clinical note?  I did not know that the Halloween blizzard was in part a consequence of the so-called “Perfect Storm” of Hollywood fame.

Enjoy the relatively warm day!

A Luddite Of Things

I’ve been deeply ambivalent about “the Internet Of Things” (IoT) for as long as geeks  have been jabbering about it.

Now, bear in mind, I work in technology; I design how people and technology (at various levels) interact.  My home office looks like Chloe O’Brien’s cubicle, or Vernon Reid’s effects rig.

But I gotta draw the line at an internet that communicates between discrete machines and the people who run them.

Net-controlled home security?  Cars?  Ubiquitous online connections to everything we interact with in life?

Well, not after last Friday, where apparently cheap, insecure IoT devices in various online-enabled appliances – DVRs, video cameras and the like – were harnessed by incredibly sophisticated hackers to launch a denial of service attack that took down vast swathes of the internet.

I’ll drive my own car and lock my own doors, thanks.

The One Time Bernie Sanders Was Right

Well, partly

The former presidential candidate, Democrat rigging victim and socialist once famously complained that Americans had “too many choices” in the free market (to audiences of bobbleheaded millennials and vacuous hippies whose lifestyles would not exist without the surplus wealth the free market creates).

He was an idiot, of course.

But he was right about one thing; one Saint Paul brew pub has given drinkers a choice that, to a real beer drinker and confection fan, is not a choice at all; they’ve combined two flavors that never, ever belong together.

Don’t make me come down there.


Marty Neuman – who took over Keegans when the great Terry Keegan retired – is bringing another of my favorite brands to Nordeast across from Surdyk’s:

The owners of Keegan’s Irish Pub are opening a franchise location of Red’s Savoy Pizza next door to their University Avenue location, in what was formerly the clothing boutique Mona.

Keegan’s Owner Marty Neumann says he bought the franchise for the location. He’s looking to have the Red’s Savoy open by Jan. 1st.

No word whether Alondra Cano has criticized the deal for appropriating Italian culture, but this is otherwise fantastic news.

$ sudo happy birthday > you

Today is the 25th birthday of the Linux operating system – which has morphed from Linus Torvalds’ hobby into the operating system running the vast majority of the world’s servers, including the ones bringing out this blog.

Here’s the current Linux family tree:

Click to enlarge - if you need to. *shrug*

Click to enlarge – if you need to. *shrug*

In my home, we have a couple of Macs, a couple of Linux machines – and, since nobody is paying me to use one, no Windows boxes at all.



Joe Doakes from Como Park emails in re tomorrow’s “Gun Buyback for Artists” in Minneapolis:

Minneapolis is having a gun buy-back [tomorrow].  I’m thinking of dumping some relics from my gun locker.  I need SITD readers to check my reasoning.

After Hillary is elected, the economy collapses and the Zombie Apocalypse hits, when there is no ammo left on the shelves, we’ll have to scrounge for ammo which means bartering with thieves who steal it. 

Where will they steal it?  From government storage, as the government will be the only ones with a supply line.   So we’re looking at standard government calibers; the government doesn’t stock weapons chambered for exotic ammo so that will be impossible to find.  Weapons chambered in exotic calibers will be useless, even for barter. 

What will be considered “exotic” at that time?

.45 ACP was popular after WW II and Special Forces use it now, but ordinary military does not.  They won’t be stocking it in quantity after The Crash.  That ammo will be highly desirable but hard to find.  Exotic.

.38 Special and .357 Magnum were popular cop revolvers until about 2000; nobody carries wheel guns as primary weapons.  They won’t be stocking that ammo in quantity after The Crash.  Backup guns and snub-nose hold-outs, maybe, but how much ammo will they store for them?  Not much.

.40 S&W was popular with cops for a short time because the FBI tried it; but as of June, the FBI is going to 9mm.  St. Paul PD switched from .40 Glocks to 9 mm Glocks five years ago.  I suspect law enforcement is going softer and smaller because women and minorities can’t handle the bigger pistols with the hotter loads but the reason doesn’t matter – what matters is what ammo they will have in stock.

Okay – so police, federal law enforcement and military are all going 9 mm.  That’s the pistol round I’ll have the easiest time scrounging.  Which means dump pistols chambered for .22 LR, .380, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .45 ACP. 

Now for rifles, it’s a different story.  .22 LR in a rifle is a fine squirrel/rabbit gun.  And everybody shoots .223/5.56 in the AR15.  Those will be fine to keep around.  I might even consider a Hi-Point 9mm Carbine; the maximum effective range is only about 100 yards but since the ammo is compatible with my pistol ammo, I only need one caliber in the backpack.

But for pistols, I’m seeing a shift in the prevailing wind away from exotics.  I might as well take some items to the gun buy-back: liberate space in the gun locker and get paid by Liberals to do it.

What do you think?

Joe Doakes

I think there’s no better way to start a bunch of gunnies duking it out that to broach this topic.

Which is fun!

File Under “Things Mitch Will Never Do”

Uber inks deal with Volvo for self-driving cars.

Starting later this month, Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon self-driving cars from their phones, crossing an important milestone that no automotive or technology company has yet achieved. Google, widely regarded as the leader in the field, has been testing its fleet for several years, and Tesla Motors offers Autopilot, essentially a souped-up cruise control that drives the car on the highway. Earlier this week, Ford announced plans for an autonomous ride-sharing service. But none of these companies has yet brought a self-driving car-sharing service to market.

I’m never going to ride in, much less own, a self-driving car.

Partly, it’s because driving is just plain fun.  Not always, of course; navigating 494 when it turns into an Andean goat path after a major blizzard is no fun (and would be less so in a self-driving car).

Partly because I know programmers, and especially project management – and I drive better than they program.  All due respect.

So just…no.

The Kids Are Not Really Alright

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I get calls from people wanting to know how to fix problems with real estate title documents, almost always sound like 20-something women, who treat commas as question marks with a rising voice inflection.  It’s painful to listen long enough that I can give the obvious answer.

 “Hi.  My name is Kelli?  From Big Title Company?  I just have a quick question and I’m hoping you can help me.”


 “We have this customer?  And she got married?  And changed her name?  But she used her old name on the documents and the County won’t accept them for recording because the name doesn’t match.”


 “So how do we fix that?”

 “Throw them away and start over.  Do it right this time.”

 Maybe the hesitancy is a generational thing, afraid to make a statement that someone might pounce on as offensive?  I don’t notice it with male callers or older women. 

 Joe Doakes

I don’t know.

But I do know the Millennial generation is on track to replace the Baby Boomers as the most overanalyzed, overhyped generation in history.

No Comment

If  you’ve been wanting to join the discussion in the comment section, but couldn’t find a “Register” link?   The problem has been fixed.   You can now register as a new commenter.

I blame Boko Haram.

Brain Bleach

Technology has wrought many wonders.

But this might be too much of a good thing:

BBC filmmaker Ted Harrison has claimed that it could just be a few short years before developments mean that they can create the feeling of human touch…the technology could be developed that would leave the door open to fans imitating sexual contact with their idols.

Which, in a world where pornography eats up about a seventh of the internet’s capacity, the idea that people will eventually use technology to simulate the wango tango is a dog sniffs dog story.  Duh; of course they will.

Perhaps it’s a sign that I do too much political blogging that the first thought that crossed my mind with this story was this question:  given the fanatic loyalty liberals have for their politicians, if this technology had been available over this past year, how often would Hillary (and Bill) Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been the subject of, um, transactions?

In USSR, The NSA Listens To You. In USA, You Listen To The NSA

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Just completed my mandatory annual data security training.  From the module on passwords:

 A password will not include anything that is meaningful to the user, such as a name (either real or fictional), a date (such as family birthdays and anniversaries), telephone numbers, postal codes, car registration numbers and so on.  But DO NOT write down your password or use the “remember password” feature in any Web browser.

 So . . . a password can’t anything to me, but I must remember for 30 days until I change it to a new meaningless phrase that I also can remember, but which does not repeat any password I’ve used in the past.

 Holy crypto, Batman.  Did I get transferred to the NSA without realizing it?

 Joe Doakes

Who knows a government operation better than a government IT department?

It’s a rhetorical question.

For The DSM7

There are two types of people in the world:

Type 1: People who don’t sort people into elaborate taxonomies.

Type 2: People who DO sort people into elaborate taxonomies.

  • Type 2a: People who create taxonomies for a living
    • Type 2a1: People who do it for academic purposes
    • Type 2a2: People who do it as market research
    • Type 2a3: People who do it for illicit purposes (arguments exist over whether this is a separate subclass)
  • Type 2b: Those who create taxonomies for recreational purposes
    • Type 2b1: Those for whom the exercise is a study in human nature
    • Type 2b2: Those for whom it’s a study in order and structure that could apply to any group or set.
  • Type 2c: Those who create taxonomies due to mental illness
    • Type 2c1: Obsessive-compulsives
    • Type 2c2: Obsessive “Sorters”
    • Type 2c3: Classic overanalyzers

That is all.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There are 10,000 sworn officers employed in Minnesota.  They shoot an average of 10 people per year for the past 15 years  No police officer was charged in any of those deaths.   There are 200,000 Minnesotans with valid permits to carry a firearm.  The Violence Policy Center (a gun-control advocacy group) tracks their offenses going back to 2008.  Permit holders shoot an average of 2 people per year.   Four permit holders have been charged with crimes (two are pending).

Police shoot 1 person per 1,000 cops.  Permit holders shoot 1 person per 100,000 permit holders.  Permit holders shoot fewer people in total, and fewer people per capita, than police. Minnesota police are 100 times more likely to shoot somebody than Minnesota pistol permit holders.

 Minnesota police shooters are never charged, just like FBI shooters are never charged.  That could be because no Minnesota law enforcement officer has ever made a mistake;  it could be because of institutional bias shielding members of the law enforcement community from the consequences of their mistakes; or it could be because the law gives police officers special privileges that are denied to permit holders.

 What is the correct procedure when an officer is approaching a vehicle during a traffic stop?  Hand on pistol, just in case the driver is a threat to the officer.

 What is the correct procedure when the driver identities himself as a cop?  Most likely, the officer can take his hand off his pistol because even though the driver has a gun, that particular driver is not a threat to the officer.  If the officer wants the driver out of the car, what’s the procedure to secure a fellow officer’s gun — take it away or let him keep it?

 What is the correct procedure when the driver identifies himself as a permit holder?  Statistically, that driver is even less likely to be a threat to the officer than when the driver is a cop.  Shouldn’t the “not-a-threat-to-the-officer” procedure be similar – hand off the pistol?  If the officer wants the driver out of the car, what’s the procedure to secure a permitted carrier’s gun – take it away or let him keep it?

 If the procedures are not identical, why not?  If the statistics show permitted carriers are less likely to shoot than fellow cops, why is the procedure different?  Tribalism, loyalty to the Blue Line Clan?  Stereotyping?  That’s not a rational basis for treating safer people worse.

 If there were a rational basis for a difference in procedures, how should they differ?

 And most importantly of all, how do we inform officers and permitted carriers of the procedure, to make sure that nobody dies from mis-communication?

 Joe Doakes

It’s the second-scariest thing about carrying.

This Calls For Clippy

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I got sick of Microsoft pelting me with emails so I downloaded the free upgrade to Windows 10.  Naturally, the software developers couldn’t resist “helping” and “improving” by moving things around.

 Control Panel still exists, but it’s not called that.  It’s in “Settings” and you get there by left-clicking the “Windows” icon in the lower left (formerly the “Start Button”) to bring up the “Life at a Glance” panel of icons that includes the “Cog” which looks like a gear wheel to me.  Left-click that to get to another page of groupings and click around those icons until you find the Control Panel feature that you wanted in the first place. 

 Not an improvement, in my opinion.  They’ve made it harder to find, probably intentionally, so that mere users don’t change the default settings approved by the god-like geniuses who set up the new user interface.  After all, I don’t own the software, I merely have a license to use it, when it feels like working, which is not all the time.

 “Task Manager” doesn’t show up at all and I can’t figure out why not.  What – the developers think the apps will never hang up?  I’ll never need to crash a program to get out of it?  Nonsense, it’s Windows, of course they’ll hang and of course I’ll need to crash them.  Already have.  But to get that power, you must to right-click the black stripe at the bottom of the screen (the “Task Bar”) to bring up an alternate context menu in which Task Manager is one choice.  Nobody tells you that, it’s not in the help menu, I had to find it on YouTube.  Windows REALLY doesn’t want the mere operator messing around with useful stuff like how to get the computer working again.

 I know, I could spend the money on Apple which would work first time, every time, but I hate how fascist they are (Ve haf made ze settings unt you vill use zem unt you vill like zem and you vill not change zem, verstehen sie?).  Or I could learn to use Ubuntu or Red Hat or Linux and spend the rest of my life fighting with incompatible software workarounds.  Or buy a Chromebook and give my every thought to the Democrats (technically the federal government bureaucracy, but that’s pretty much the same thing nowadays). 

 I just want it to work.  It doesn’t seem like so much to ask.

 Joe Doakes

I work in “User Experience Design” for my day job – it’s a fancy term for “making software suck less for real people”.  I read stories like this, and hear “permanent job security”.

Journalism We Can Use

Journalist tries – and miserably fails – to keep up with Winston Churchill’s daily drinking pace

…and, in the process, indulges in some journalism, popping a few myths about Churchill’s drinking.  His celebrated whiskey-and-sodas before noon included just enough whiskey to wet the bottom of the tumbler; his two bottles of champagne a day were pint-sized, not the liter or larger sized bottles common today.

But still, the guy drank a lot.

Oh, just read it.