Fri, Sep. 13th, 2013, 01:42 am
You! Yes, you! Do you like board games? Do you like massive 4X boardgames? So look here!

Burning Suns is an already-funded Kickstarter project, which looks absolutely awesome. The push now is for the stretch goals, which will make it even more awesome. But hey, don't take my word for it -- look for yourselves!



Support it here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/suntzugames/burning-suns

Mon, Apr. 15th, 2013, 04:18 pm
[PSA] Two bombs go off at Boston Marathon finish line

2 dead, 23 injured. See CNN for more.

Mon, Mar. 4th, 2013, 06:34 am
I be stumped

OK, so proper nouns. Capitalized in all cases, right? Except when lower case is part of the proper noun. Now here's the twist. Suppose you're talking about a person called, oh, for example, Richard van't Riet. And the format calls upon you to refer to him by his last name, so "van't Riet." And you start the sentence from said last name.

Do you capitalize the v in "van't"????

Chicago Manual of Style is silent on the subject, incidentally.

Wed, Feb. 20th, 2013, 03:36 am
Should you keep copies of your medical records -- the exciting conclusion!

A (now rather long) while back, I posted a question: How many of you keep copies of your own medical records? The answer was, not many. I didn't provide any background at the time, so I think that's where I'll start now.

A few months ago Jay Lake, who has been cancer for a number of years now, traveled to a major cancer centre to get a second opinion on his situation. The timing was constrained by the specialist's very limited availability. Yet despite the advance notice and significant pre-planning, getting his patient records to the other hospital turned into a protracted nightmare.

My own, much less severe, situation involved a new dentist. When filling in my medical and dental history, I mentioned having wisdom teeth extracted. I then suggested that I may be able to get the records and the accompanying x-rays from the maxillofacial surgeon who performed the procedure. After all, it's not like wisdom teeth might spontaneously regrow, right? Alas, I was not successful: While I was able to track down the surgeon's office, the information has been destroyed by that time, as the operation took place some 10 years earlier.

I went into this little investigation with the underlying assumption that there are many potential benefits to the patient having a copy of their own records -- if for no other purpose than insurance against screw-ups occurring at the worst possible moment.

Having spoken to three doctors now, the answer isn't exactly what I expected.

the investigation, in detailCollapse )

In summary, I'd say that unless you are suffering from a long-term illness (where "long-term" can be as short as a year, if Jay's experience is any indication), it may be a good idea to get your hands on your records -- at the very least ones directly pertaining to the illness. On the other hand, I now don't feel the potential benefits are sufficient to warrant a regular request-and-back-up regimen for your own medical files. In short, carry on as you were :)

Wed, Oct. 3rd, 2012, 12:29 pm
Just curious...

Is anyone else getting logged out of livejournal on a random and frequent basis lately?

Mon, Oct. 1st, 2012, 01:09 pm
[thoughts] Goal of education

A recent BBC program raised the question, and I've been poking at it in my head for the last day or so. I'm curious what you folks think.

What's the goal of education? After all, pretty much all societies* today are expending massive amounts of resources on providing education or -- in the case of poorer societies, wishing they could do so.


I'll expand the question: What is the goal of our education system as it currently stands, and what *should* be its goal (if the two are not the same)?

Multiple priorities are OK.

Or you could also take this in a completely different direction and argue that the goal of *education* doesn't correlate with the goal of *the education system*. But if you do, please expand on why you feel the current system isn't meeting the needs of the society :)



*The issue of women's education in more traditionalist Muslim societies (as well as some fringe Christian groups, for that matter) can certainly be discussed, but I would argue that this is a case of educational priorities being overridden by other, more powerful, societal drivers -- and even those societies devote a lot of resources to education. Just not for women.

Tue, Sep. 25th, 2012, 10:15 am
[Kitchen] How high-tech are you?

Thanks to suricattus.

Take the following list, and: Bold items you have, and use at least once a year. Italicize the ones you have, but don't use. Strike through the ones you had, but have gotten rid of.

pasta machines, breadmakers, juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers, egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastry brushes, cheese knives, electric woks, miniature salad spinners, griddle pans, jam funnels, meat thermometers, filleting knives, egg poachers, cake stands, garlic crushers, martini glasses, tea strainers, bamboo steamers, pizza stones, coffee grinders, milk frothers, piping bags, banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers (bains marie), sukiyaki stoves, food processors, ice cream makers, takoyaki makers, and fondue sets

(yes, I know. Haven't used the gifted fondue set once, and I live with a nigh-infinite supply of cheese)

Originally from The Guardian.

Sun, Sep. 23rd, 2012, 04:26 pm
[Games]Grinding echoes in Fallen London

I suspect this will be of interest to no one except myself and those who play Fallen London and read this blog. You have been warned.




I've been slowly but steadily working my way up to the Overgoat. The Overgoat is expensive: 11,712.80 echoes. Given that the average action gives you around 1-1.2 echoes, and even at my most dedicated and computer-bound I don't think I managed more than 80 actions in a day... I started this before Fallen London switched to unlimited actions and I figured it'd take me six months. But doing nothing but grinding cash is unbelieveably boring, so I figure it's going to take me another six months from right now.

What follows is a discussion of the most efficient way of grinding echoes in Fallen London.Collapse )

Sun, Sep. 23rd, 2012, 03:46 pm
[PSA]Political opinions and prejudice

BBC Analysis did a show on political prejudice.

I urge you to listen to it, 27:45 long though it may be.

Podcast link for those not keen on the BBC iPlayer. You'll want the Sept. 17, 2012 programme.

Sat, Sep. 22nd, 2012, 11:46 am
Emergency question: What do you do with LOTS of milk?

We've just found ourselves in possession of 200 gallons of milk, with which something must be done by tonight or it will get dumped.

I'm soliciting recipe suggestions that use *lots* of milk. Lots and lots of milk. We simply don't have that many containers.

Mon, Sep. 17th, 2012, 12:22 am
Do you keep copies of your medical records?

If you do, how difficult a process do you have to go through to get them? How often do you update your copies?

Thu, Sep. 6th, 2012, 09:13 pm
Why I adore ursulav

“The witch’s house lays eggs sometimes,” said the weasel. “I tried to eat one.”
--Ursula Vernon, House with Bird Feet (Current work in progress)

Tue, Aug. 14th, 2012, 12:37 pm
Shadowrun Online

3.5 hours to go on the kickstarter!

I'm in for probably more than I should have. But people! Shadowrun!

Thu, Jun. 28th, 2012, 11:35 am
[PSA][Health Care][USA] Affordable Health Care Act Facts

There has been a lot of back and forth on the issue of the Affordable Health Care Act (AKA Obamacare). Now that the Individual Mandate has been reaffirmed by the US Supreme Court, here are some facts, courtesy of the Kaiser Health News*.

Let's start with the worst case scenario: You can't get affordable coverage and must take the penalty hit. Even in that case, things aren't horrible.

No penalties will be in effect until after January 1, 2014. Even then, the annual penalty will be set at 1% of annual income or $95, whichever is greater. This amount will gradually increase, reaching a maximum of $695 or 2.5% of annual income, again whichever is greater, by January 1, 2016. Note that the penalty is *per individual*, but there is a maximum per family of $2,085 or 2.5% of annual income, whichever is greater.

tl;dr: No one will ever pay a penalty more than $2,085 per family 2.5% of their family's annual income per year. (Kaiser Health News, March 22, 2010)

But really, I suspect most of us would rather have insurance coverage -- the problem is finding something that's actual *coverage* and that we can afford. The Act provides for a sliding-scale subsidy program. Under the program,

1) Medicaid coverage will be expanded to cover individuals and families at or below 133% of the federal poverty level. As of 2012, these are: $11,170 for an individual, $15,130 for a couple, and $23,050 for a family of four. So Medicaid would cover an individual making $14,856, a couple making $20,123, or a family of four earning 30,656.(Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2012 Federal Poverty Guidelines)

2) For those earning 133%-400% of the poverty level ($14,856-$44,680 for individuals, $20,123-$60,520 for couples, $30,656-$92,200 for family of four), a sliding-scale subsidy will be available to offset the cost of premiums. This is the bit I like the most: The subsidy won't be something you have to ask for on your year-end taxes; it will be implemented as a cap on your annual premium. Wikipedia has the chart, but to save you the trip, a family of four at the 150% income level would be paying at most $1,383/year in premiums (after adjustment for poverty line cut-off since the chart was made). At the top of this category, a family of four earning $92,200 a year would be paying at most 9.5% of its income in premiums, or $8,759.(Kaiser Health News, March 22, 2010)

tl;dr: If you're making under $44.5K/year as an individual or under $90K/year as a family of four, you'll be paying at most $4,225 (individual) or $8,759 (family) in annual premiums. In many cases much less than that.

3) For those at or below the 400% income level, out-of-pocket costs will also be limited, but I haven't seen much detail on how or how much.

*The article I'm pulling this from is a tad dated, so if you're aware of changes that have taken place since then, please let me know and I'll correct the post.

The full text of the Affordable Healthcare Act is NINE HUNDRED FIFTY FIVE PAGES of dense legalese, but here ya go. Just in case you have a week or two to kill :)

Last updated June 28, 23:09 EDT

Thu, Jun. 7th, 2012, 11:39 am
[Half-Baked Ideas] Electrical event triggers

Think back to yesterday.
-How many times did you do something that triggered the flow of electrical current?
-How would your day have been different if you'd only had half that number of activations available to you? (you do get to choose which ones you would have dropped)

--------
For the sake of the thought experiment, consider only first-order events: Pressing a button on the microwave counts, but the microwave then turning on both the emitter and the plate spinning motor don't.

Also treat individual triggers as distinct events: Dialling a phone number counts as seven (or 10, or however many digits you dialled) events, not one.

Tue, May. 29th, 2012, 07:35 pm
[gardening] Mother nature don't care

Just like honey badger.

This is the first of the long-planned and even -promised series of gardening posts. I'll start off easy (no photos).

One of the things we did this year was plant a set of raspberry bushes. Well, bushes eventually. Right now they're about 3" off the ground. Well, mostly. See, there were some problems with the quality of the compost we planted them into. I don't know if you get the same sort of variation in nutrient content with store-bought compost, but when you get it from the farm by way of a long time sitting in the open with stuff growing on the top layer, some variation is expected. In this case, as the yellowing leaves on our six sad, neglected raspberries told us, there wasn't enough nitrogen in the mix.

Cue slow-release nitrogen tablets near the roots of each. Cue an almost full week of rain.

Remember how I said the (now much healthier and sporting new growth) raspberries were about 3" off the ground? That's five of them. The sixth one grew to over a foot. In a week. Bamboo, you got *nothing* on this baby.

As an aside, did you know that it's only the new growth that fruits on raspberry bushes? Apparently, with at least some of the varieties, the thing to do at the end of every fall is to mow them down to the ground.

Another moment of "mother nature don't care" tomorrow, when the rain stops and I can take a photo.

Sun, May. 6th, 2012, 12:46 am
Saw the Avengers

So. Many. Great. Lines! You should all go see it. Though frankly, the 3D added not a whit of enjoyment for me.

Fri, Apr. 20th, 2012, 05:01 pm
Kuhn Rikon Zebra Knives: A profanity-laced review

When I saw the Kuhn Rikon 3-piece knife set on Woot, I couldn't resist. Lusting for years after Wusthof Classics, I'm used to each of my knives costing upwards of $40 (which is why I have two Classics and a large number of crappy knives -- and one of the Classics was a gift). $15 for three sounded like a steal, and even if I didn't like them, I knew I could give them to someone less knife-snobbish, who'd be perfectly happy to have them.

By complete coincidence, the package arrived the same day I picked up the three J. A. Henkels knives on a Groupon I'd purchased months back. The Henkels went into daily use, while the Rikons, due to my showing off their cuteness to some of my wife's family members, ended up being hidden in a drawer from the toddler and forgotten for a month or so.

I happened across them today. I had a pineapple to cut, so I figured what the hell, let's give them a spin.
Here be the profanityCollapse )

Tue, Apr. 17th, 2012, 09:05 pm
Derailed

I was planning on a series of gardening posts. Instead, I've picked up a cold that has me unable to look at a monitor for longer than 5 min. at a time. Regular broadcasts will... Oh wait, I wasn't doing any of those anyway. Back in a few days, then.

Wed, Mar. 28th, 2012, 11:18 pm
Accomplishments

Rough shelf for storing canned goods in the basement: Built
Circular, three-tier strawberry bed: Built, filled with dirt, filled with (some of the) strawberries
Terraced bed: Fence posts dug in, wall installed, bed just needs dirt and plants. (and the replacement of one fence post, more fool me)
Retaining wall for vegetable beds: Built
Mice: Multiplying, despite ongoing culling efforts :/
Rear bumper: Cracked in four places
Lessons learned: Don't back over the massive lawnmower, you idiot!
(lawnmower: Not even scratched)

Fri, Feb. 17th, 2012, 08:42 am
An update! A honest-to-goodness update! (Yes, I'm avoiding work)

Oh hai.

Article, I do not want to write you right now. Which is a shame, because you're actually pretty interesting.


Oh well, back to Echo Bazaar.

Mon, Oct. 31st, 2011, 03:25 am
Back from WFC

Rather sleepy at the moment. Awesome convention. Awesome roommates. Awesome baby, who proved far more popular than both of her parents combined. (Connie Willis *and* Greg Bear both admired the baby and cooed at her. I don't know about Kat, but I can tell you for sure they'd never done that to me)

More when consciousness returns. But first, I think I'll unpack the new suitcase, which arrived about two hours after we'd left for the airport.

Fri, Oct. 21st, 2011, 04:40 pm
Dept. of Awesome: Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes

After seeing a review of these on Cool Tools, I picked a few up on a whim (while driving to the airport, no less!) I have to say, they are the bees' knees.

OK, now that I've fulfilled my "bees' knees" lifetime quota, back to the point. Eagle Creek came out with a line of polyester (40% post-consumer waste, even!) /mesh, soft-sided "cubes" (they're boxes, really; I don't think any are actually cube-shaped) into which you put your stuff. Then you put them into your luggage, and voila! A portable compartment for each and every thing, from underwear to shirts to the plethora of cords and chargers for your electronics.

The most useful ones (in my opinion, anyway) are the Cube, the Half Cube, and the Tube Cube, for those narrow parts along the side of your suitcase.

The Wallaby toiletry kit is one I'm planning to get next, though possibly not in time for this trip.


And on that note, I think it's time to wash some clothes for the upcoming trip :)

Fri, Oct. 7th, 2011, 10:14 am
Научиться рисовать до Нового Года? Да!

Originally posted by za_me4toj at Научиться рисовать до Нового Года? Да!
Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

До Нового года осталось всего ничего. Это только кажется, что времени еще много, но вы же знаете, что пролетит оно незаметно, а потом придется спешно покупать подарки, завершать дела и подводить итоги в канун праздника. Я предлагаю начать все эти дела заранее и добавить немного креатива прямо в этом году.

С 3-го октября мы начинаем бесплатный 12-недельный курс обучения рисованию по системе Бетти Эдвардс "Художник внутри вас". Профессор Бетти написала свою книгу еще в середине 80х годов. Но и сейчас она не потеряла своей актуальности. Развить творческое мышление через обучение рисованию - разве это не чудесная идея? А десятилетия успешной практики только подтверждают эффективность ее методов.

Просто для примера:
вот рисунки ее студентов в начале курса

а вот через 12 недель

Впечатляет? Меня очень :) 
О чем это все?Collapse )


Друзья!

Хотим сообщить вам важное известие -
В ночь с пятницы на субботу (7-8 октября) ровно в 00-00 мы закроем возможность присоединиться к тренингу
"Научиться рисовать до Нового Года? Да!" - комментарии будут отключены.


Количество участников нас невероятно удивило!
Спасибо всем!

Если вы уже успели оставить заявку - не переживайте, мы вас обязательно запишем, никого не пропустим)









Wed, Oct. 5th, 2011, 01:21 am
Hrm.

OK, body, what the hell?

Went to bed at about 2:30am, woke up at 10:42. Pretty normal.

Worked until about 5:30, gave in to the headache, took painkillers. Went to take a nap at 6pm.

Woke up at 1 in the morning.

Now I'm as disoriented and time-shifted as could be. But at least I don't have a headache.

...

Or dinner.

Thu, Sep. 29th, 2011, 11:49 am
An international business drama, as told in headlines.

While I distract myself from actual work, have a brief play script.

The participants
Mongolia A cash-poor, resource-rich country, drawing massive attention from the world's mining companies. Home to the Oyu Tolgoi project. The country owns a 34% stake in the project.

Rio Tinto The world's second-largest mining company, a 140-year-old British-Australian multinational, controlling 4.9% of the global mining productiion. Operating partner in Oyu Tolgoi project, Part-owner of Ivanhoe Mines.

Ivanhoe Mines Canadian mining company, responsible for discovery of Oyu Tolgoi, and currently holding a 66% stake in the project.

Oyu Tolgoi The world's largest undeveloped copper-gold deposit. Largest investment Mongolia's history, projected to contribute more than 30% to the country's GDP and raise the average Mongolian's income by $60. (if it can find an average Mongolian to give the money to, of course)

And now, let the fun begin.
August 4th, 2011 "Ivanhoe chief says Oyu Tolgoi should be worth $30 billion"

August 30th, 2011 "Ivanhoe up 23% in a week as Oyu Tolgoi news just gets better"

September 21s, 2011 "Ivanhoe roiled as Mongolia rethinks Oyu Tolgoi, says partner Rio makes ‘unauthorized’ statements" (looks like the statements in question were about delays in getting power connections to the mine, meaning delays for production start)

September 25th, 2011 "Mongolia wants 50 pct of Rio's Oyu Tolgoi project, minister says"

September 26th, 2011 "Spooked investors dump Ivanhoe despite reassurances - shares crash 21%"

September 28th, 2011 "Rio Tinto pays Can$73 million for 49% of Ivanhoe Mines" *

And that is how it's done, folks.



*did not actually purchase 49% for $73 million. What Rio actually did was purchase 0.5% for $73 million, increasing its total stake in Ivanhoe to 49%. Also, least useful headline ever.

Wed, Sep. 28th, 2011, 07:23 pm
OMG! Pwnies!

This is a pony generator.

And these are some generated ponies.

Use this power for good, people. Only for good.

Mon, Aug. 15th, 2011, 11:55 am
...wait, what?

I hadn't fully appreciated the troubles of the print media industry. Until now.

Seriously, New Scientist?

Wed, Jul. 6th, 2011, 11:49 pm
The Soup Strikes Again

Remember the soup I like? Well, this time I made a quadruple portion. That's 24 cups of broth, plus about 6lb of potatoes again. So, all told, probably on the order of 28 cups of soup.

I made it Monday night. katfeete had a bowl. It's now gone.

Sat, Jul. 2nd, 2011, 02:19 pm
Singal-Boost: Planned Parenthood Benefit Auction

scott_lynch, who is generally awesome, is rightly annoyed at the right-wing drive against Planned Parenthood. He's putting a number of his books up on auction, with all proceeds going to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Please consider bidding. If you can't, please spread the word (there's this really neat "share" button which I've only just noticed)

Original post by Scott below.


Planned Parenthood Benefit Auction: Lots o' My Books
I wish I could say that I was surprised that last year's fresh crop of far right-wing whackaloons, allegedly elected to state and federal positions to stir the economy and create jobs, has instead spent a disproportionate amount of its time going utterly hog-wild against womens' health and reproductive rights.

Planned Parenthood is under siege from maniacs in more than one state; hypocritical lunatics who don't seem to grasp that it offers a broad slate of essential health and life-saving services including STD testing/treatment, cancer screening and preventive treatment, and contraceptive services. Planned Parenthood is already prohibited from spending any of its federal funding directly on abortion services, but that's just not good enough for the lunatics, because it's not really about the "sanctity of life" for them (if it were, they'd show decidedly more interest in the health and safety of those precious little life forms once they leave the womb)-- it's about leveraging all the powers of the state they can possibly get their hands on to control women and intrude on the most private aspects of their lives.

Well, an author not hamstrung by anxiety issues might be able to do some good to fight back against this bullshit... so it's time to try being that guy. This here is an experiment, kids. I am offering several lots of my books on eBay, in a series of charity auctions. 100% of the proceeds from these auctions will be donated to The Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

These lots are made up of international editions of my work, taken from my private collection. These books are extremely rare in North America and the UK in particular, and this might be your easiest chance to snag a few. Certainly, it'll be your cheapest and perhaps only chance to snag a few and have them signed to order by me.

Here's what such a lot looks like:





LOT 1: SPAIN - SWEDEN - ITALY
  • The Spanish edition of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA from Alianza Editorial (softcover);
  • The Swedish edition of RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES from Bonnier Carlson (hardcover); and
  • The Italian edition of RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES from Editrice Nord (hardcover)

    LOT 2: BULGARIA - NORWAY - NETHERLANDS
  • The Bulgarian edition of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA from Riva (softcover);
  • The Norwegian Edition of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA from Cappelen Damm (hardcover); and
  • The Dutch edition of RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES from Mynx (hardcover, wrapped)

    As a bonus with each lot, I will throw in a very nice commemorative print of a variant TLOLL cover by genius Bragelonne artist Benjamin Carre. I received a small supply of these in France in 2007 and if you're looking for a worthwhile Gentleman Bastard souvenir guaranteed to be scarce across the world, this would be it. You'll also get a commemorative bookmark from the same event.

    These two lots are the first of several charity auctions I mean to list this weekend. Please note that the very dorkily named "wisconsinscottlynch" is the one and only real me on eBay.
  • Fri, Jun. 17th, 2011, 11:03 am
    FYI: Car Rentals and Opportunity-Based Fleecing

    I've been researching a trip to Montreal for the last few days. As of last night, my plan was to fly into Burlington, VT, rent a car and drive into Montreal. The price difference between flying that way and straight into Montreal is impressive -- about $300. Well, it was around $300 when I last looked; we all know that airlines adjust ticket pricing based on projected spikes in demand.

    Apparently, so do car rental companies.

    To wit: Last night, looking at a rental from Budget Cars at BTV airport starting at 23:45 on August 3 and returning at 18:00 on August 7 was going to cost me $113 before taxes ($148 after). But the catch is, my flight lands at 23:59 -- exactly the time the rental location closes. So I waited until this morning to call them and find out whether they stay open a little bit longer if they know they have a rental reservation. Except this morning, the rate isn't quite the same... It's $272 before taxes. $341 after.

    Mind you, when you have clear evidence the company is trying to fleece you, you can get a much better response from the CSRs at the reservation call centre. I was offered a rate of $185 total. Which still isn't $148, so I think I'll pass, and watch the fares.

    ETA:The pricing saga continues! Today (Saturday morning) it's $170 before tax, $218 after! I wonder what tomorrow will bring...

    Fri, Jun. 3rd, 2011, 04:39 pm
    Quixoteraptor

    That is all.

    Fri, May. 27th, 2011, 03:34 pm
    Blast from the web past

    Holy crap, people! *Angelfire* is still alive!

    Better yet, it's owned by *Lycos*!

    Wed, May. 25th, 2011, 11:19 am
    And now, a message brought to you by...

    EeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (transformer)


    (been a long while since I've gotten this excited about new hardware)

    Mon, May. 23rd, 2011, 09:48 pm
    Lesson of the day

    Obsessively reloading the UPS tracking page will not make my Transformer get here any faster.

    But just in case, I'll go refresh the page one more time now.

    Sat, May. 21st, 2011, 07:40 pm
    Referral Key?

    I just received an invitation to a web service called "Referral Key." I have some reservations about joining yet another professional social network, but maybe I'm being overly cynical.

    Have you had any experience with the site?

    Fri, May. 20th, 2011, 02:52 am
    [GreenerDan] Figuring Out Environmentalism

    I'm far from being as sustainable as I'd like to be -- and even farther from being as sustainable as I can be. I think it's time to spend some cognitive energies on this, hopefully improving my real-world environmental record in the process. I'll try and quantify things as much as possible along the way. I welcome any and all help in this process. Recognizing that my ramblings on this topic aren't of universal interest, I will be making future posts on the subject under a cutCollapse )

    Fri, May. 20th, 2011, 02:45 am
    Cost of human life?

    Am I completely off-base in saying that
    1) We cannot place a monetary value on the life of an individual, but
    2) policymakers can -- and must -- place a monetary value on human life in aggregate?

    Wed, May. 11th, 2011, 08:46 pm
    Moments from a photo session

    Earlier today, at Ellie's photo session.
    icedrake: That fun fur looks like someone skinned a carebear.

    Wed, May. 4th, 2011, 07:40 pm
    Baby photos

    And Baby! up close.
    Eleanor Rahil' $lastname

    And Eleanor (currently codename "Ellie") with tired but happy mom.
    Baby!

    Edit: I'm being defeated by the Flickr image embedding scheme, and all I have to work with is an itouch screen. Please let me know if you *can* see the images. In the meantime, have the raw links.
    Child of Edit: Embedding fixed.

    Wed, May. 4th, 2011, 12:36 pm
    May 4 2011, 11:49EDT

    We have a daughter :)

    Also, @_0

    Now where's that manual?

    Wed, May. 4th, 2011, 09:14 am
    It's begun

    Now I wait. More as things develop.

    Tue, May. 3rd, 2011, 10:08 am
    There are few things more disappointing...

    ..than waking up, seeing the CBC report a conservative *minority*
    ...and realizing a moment later that you're looking at the *2008* results.

    Fri, Apr. 15th, 2011, 12:09 pm
    This gardening thing is fun!

    Circular, three-tier strawberry bed: Finished
    Two rectangular potato beds: Filled
    Dump truck load of compost: Barely diminished
    Volunteer weeds growing *on* the pile of compost: Being fruitful and multiplying
    Root mass of said volunteers: I fear nature now
    Serviceberry: Flowering! Yay!
    Radishes, peas, and something else Kat planted: Sprouting!
    Cherry: Aten't dead! Double-yay!

    All in all, a good day.

    PS. Mulberry: Alive, but bored indoors. Plant it already, Dan!

    Fri, Apr. 8th, 2011, 12:23 pm
    [The other kind of hardware] Name (or source) needed

    Hi folks.

    I'm missing some hardware, without which my chairs are a tad lower to the ground than I'd like. Specifically, I need the nuts from this photo. (well, I suspect I'll need the screws too, but those are far easier to source)

    Fri, Mar. 25th, 2011, 12:44 pm
    Why The NY Times Paywall is A Bad Idea

    A number of my LJ contacts are obsessive NY Times readers. I can certainly understand that -- the NYT offers some very high quality content. And yet, time and time again, the NYT shows it's very confused about its goals: The newspaper's leadership wants you to read the paper, yet it doesn't.

    Let's start with the good old free registration shtick that the NYT site has been engaged in for a few years now. This likely makes sense for regular readers: You can set up personalized email subscriptions, use your account to buy archive articles, manage your physical paper subscription... And that's it. The NYT never did give much weight to the importance of personalized news presentation, it seems.

    Perhaps the most important advantage that regular readers have is that their cookies are refreshed on each subsequent visit -- what, you thought the NYT wasn't tracking your reading habits? -- which, in theory, should keep them perpetually logged in. Not so for the casual reader: Too long between your visits, and instead of the article you came to see, you'll find yourself staring at a login screen, grasping for a username and password you've long forgotten.

    In fact, the value proposition for the casual reader has always been lacking. The NYT has basically been saying to visitors "give us a better way to track your browsing habits, and we'll... stop harassing you about it." As a casual reader, I got absolutely nothing out of the free registration, except the ability to read the material. Sort of makes sense, thought, doesn't it? The NYT is a private content provider, and can decide to let me access the content or not, based on whatever arbitrary set of rules it wants to go by.

    Well, sort of. This only works as long as you forget that that news are a commodity, and a very time-sensitive one, at that. If I, the casual reader, can't get my fresh news from the NYT, I will happily go somewhere else. The true selling point of the NYT's coverage -- the insightful analysis and commentary -- isn't a draw when it comes to breaking news (both because there isn't enough time for the high-profile writers cover every bit of breaking news, and because there isn't much point -- you want to dedicate your best writers' time to long-lasting articles, not ones people will forget about in a week).

    The catch is that once you do get in the habit of reading some of the columnists (say, Paul Krugman), you're no longer a casual reader. You do visit more regularly; you do get some advantages from the email updates; you don't get stuck with a logon nag screen at every visit.

    But isn't all of the above suggesting that the paywall, as it's been presented, is a good idea? The NYT is specifically not targeting the casual reader -- 20 article views per month are going to remain free, a number I'm sure the data produced by the reg-wall helped arrive at -- and is instead aiming for the audience that clearly does find added value in the NYT -- the aforementioned regular readers.

    As the post title says, I disagree, for a number of reasons. Greg Satell at Digital Tonto has an excellent writeup on why the paywall is really dumb, but I would like to expand on what I consider his most crucial point.

    "Marketers are willing to pay more for consumers than consumers are willing to pay for content."

    In fact, marketers are willing to pay a lot more: A 2007 study in the Newspaper Research Journal cites advertising as being the largest source of newspaper revenue, accounting for 70-80% of the total. Subscriptions accounted for about 18% of revenue, at best a 4:1 ratio.

    So what happens when a service that was previously free starts costing you money? Some people can't go without, and pay the new price, no matter what it is. But even the case of a monopoly offering an indispensible service some people will simply not have the resources to pay. The NYT is neither a monopoly nor is its offering indispensible. It's an unavoidable reality that some of its dedicated readership will not pay the subscription fees; the question is how many will.

    Remember the above ratio? The NYT is looking to get both subscription fees and advertising revenue from the same group of people. This attempt is, inevitably, going to shrink that group of people. In order to break even, the NYT must get four people to subscribe for every one person who abandons this for a rotten deal and goes elsewhere. An 80% lead conversion rate? I have some serious doubts.

    But it gets worse. Most times, online advertisers pay per click-through or per thousand impressions. The longer you keep a reader on your site, the more page-views that customer gathers per visit, the greater your count of ad exposures per customer and the greater your chance of a click-through on an ad (not to mention, the greater your dataset on that reader's habits and preferences, and the more targeted – and lucrative – the advertising). The 20-article limit actively discourages people from browsing around the site. Those article suggestions that automatically pop up when you hit the bottom of your current story – a brilliant method, in my opinion – have suddenly become much less useful. Remember: Articles you arrive at via a social media link don't count against your monthly limit, but articles you browse to from that point on, do.

    The NYT is hoping that its current dedicated readership will continue driving new readers to the site, and that the paywall will then serve to convert these new, casual readers to subscribers. What the NYT fails to acknowledge is that the people most likely to post links on social media are the very same dedicated readers whose numbers it's about to shrink by way of the paywall. And the conversion of casual readers? Let's put it this way: When registration was free, the most popular site on bugmenot.com (which offers dummy registrations for anyone to use) was nytimes.com. I wonder what that means as far as lead conversion rates when money is involved.

    Thu, Mar. 24th, 2011, 12:16 pm
    [gardening] It lives! It lives! ...now what?

    I didn't kill it! And I assure you, I'm as surprised as any of you. Also, I need advice, of great gardening hive-mind.

    OK, maybe a bit of a backstory on this is in order.
    Last year, my mother-in-law gave me a cherry tree for my birthday (end of March). About 30cm tall, potted, from a very reputable nursery. The tree did quite well indoors, but we waited *way* too long to plant it outside and didn't repot it. By the time we did replant it, it was probably six to eight weeks in the pot, and the leaves started yellowing. Over the next couple of months, it lost all the leaves, but didn't dry out, and the nursery suggested it was most likely going dormant early -- not an unknown reaction in young cherry trees.

    Come this spring, there are *buds!* It's alive! ... and I have no idea how to care for it.

    The original instructions were to not plant the tree in compost, and to water it daily or every other day. Now that it's spent a good eight months in dormancy, do I continue to treat it as a fresh replant, or do I put out more compost on top of the soil (which is incredibly clay-rich, and rather acidic)? Do I still water it daily, or am I likely to cause more problems by doing that?

    Any and all advice would be appreciated.

    Also? I have a *tree!*

    Thu, Mar. 17th, 2011, 11:23 am
    [politics] For the record?

    While I have friends and family in Israel, and generally feel having an Israel is a good idea, I do *not* support the current Israeli government.

    Tue, Mar. 15th, 2011, 06:09 pm
    Out of context

    katfeete

    "She's like a blonde Mick Jagger. With boobs."

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