Happy video from Patricia

Didn’t realize two months have passed since my last post.  Quite negligent of me.  In any case, Patricia has contributed  a happy video for our enjoyment.

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Now I’m NSA fodder

I have to vent.  Sorry, but Obama has become such an extreme disappointment; the NSA spying on everyone in the world including us, extreme heavy handedness with people who attempt to introduce transparency (Manning, Snowden), refusal to close Guantanamo, vast increase in the number of mercenaries fighting our foreign wars, drone strikes on civilians that by universal consent constitute war crimes, and nominating liars to top intelligence positions.

I am sure you can add more.

The affair last night with the plane carrying the President of Bolivia is just the latest example of extreme bullying.  What do you suppose we threatened France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal with – on an impulse lacking evidence or common sense – for them to simultaneously deny the plane passage or a stop to refuel?  (This morning – only after the plane was grounded in Austria, searched, and found empty – they are denying their role.)  If I was a citizen of those countries, I would be pissed that we acceded to U.S. demands on no evidence and especially when the object was the guy who revealed that the U.S. has been spying on my elected officials.  This kind of routine, obsequious acquiescence by other nations to U.S. whims is going to end sooner than later and be replaced by suspicion and resentment.  Imagine how the average Bolivian regards the U.S. today.  And for what?

It’s no wonder the rest of the world hates the U.S., not us as people but the policies of the government.  We are witnessing a case study in how dominate civilizations rot from within and slowly collapse.  People have long memories and as we lose power/influence others will take great satisfaction in striking out at us in return.

The really worrying element is that Obama has continued Bush’s practices and built out a framework and tools necessary for a future bad apple to take totalitarian control of the country.  “It could never happen here” until it shockingly does happen.

I hope you will keep all of this in mind every time you have an opportunity to cast a vote.  The government has yet to represent the ideals of its average citizens in this century.

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What are we thinking

The one thing that absolutely has to be done in this country is to shrink the size and power of the military and its suppliers.  It is hugely wasteful, enriches a small group of defense company executives/lobbyists/congressmen, abuses people’s trust in what most want to believe is an honorable institution, is the worst and least accountable polluter in the U.S., is prone to massive corruption (recall the pallet loads of high denomination cash shipped to Iraq to fund reconstruction that simply disappeared), and is staffed to a greater and greater extent by hired mercenaries whose pay/expenses are another huge pit of corruption.  We have gone so far off track as a country since the start of the Bush Administration.  Reflect on this before you cast your vote in future elections.

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I played Monopoly for uncountable hours in the 1960s.  At one time, I could recite the rent for every property on the board at every level of construction from unimproved, to one house, and on up to five houses/hotel.  If I was alone and had nothing to do on a summer day, I would play all four sides of the board at once and record amounts owed by each ‘player’ on a piece of paper rather than settle in cash each turn in order to speed things up.  If Ben was around, we would alternate, playing Monopoly (I won), then Risk (he won).  I learned long ago that the Orange properties offer the best ROI (return on investment) even though they lack ‘knock out’ power.  The Railroads are nice cash generators for funding construction elsewhere if you own them but  are mostly annoying if you don’t own them.  The Green properties are widow makers; expensive to buy, exorbitant to build on, and all-too-easily bypassed by opponents.  Also, you don’t need computer simulation to discover that three houses are the best investment, simply look at the increase in rent for each increment of construction cost.  Nonetheless, here is computer generated proof of those concepts and many more.  It’s a great game for its own sake and for what it reveals of people’s personalities.  By the way, I still have my original set, now over 50 years old.

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Useful Online Education

Maybe there is hope for online education after all, despite the to-date deceitful practices of “University” of Phoenix, et al.  The concept seems well suited to factual/problem set oriented areas of math and science and not so much to discussion-centric classes in liberal arts.

The promise of making really great teachers available (for free) to anyone willing to put in the time and effort seems to have been pulled off in this example.  If you are really serious about learning more about a technical topic – complicated stuff like coding or more mundane like getting better at Excel – it’s worth a google search to see what courses/tutorials are available to you right now from the seat of your favorite chair.

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Benefit of small changes to daily routine

There are some good ideas here.

This is kind of a fun article – stuff that seems hokey but actually works.

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Four fer

This stimulates a little thought.

First, I think this is an amazingly good creation for a high school student – lots of thought in the creative details even if the art itself is (purposely) cartoonish.  It’s a doodle, after all.  Second, it is very touching as an 18 year old’s powerful remembrance of a brief moment in her childhood.  We all carry searing memories of brief moments in childhood, of good and bad, and the adults involved – including me – don’t realize at the time (and maybe never) the imprint on the child.  It is a good reason to talk things out when you realize something has affected you much more deeply than it appears to have affected others.  Those closest to you want to listen and understand.

This is spooky.  Consoles are gaining the ability to read our expressions and gauge our moods?  And then transmit the information to big brother with gps location data?  No Kinect for me, thank you very much.

I was unaware of Quartz until this morning.  On the strength of the one liners below, I’ve bookmarked it.  Don’t overlook the final bit.

Matters of debate

All good atheists go to Heaven. So says Pope Francis—whether they want to or not.

American presidents always disappoint. The cruel curse of high expectations.

Al Jazeera is the best thing ever to happen to journalism. Or perhaps not.

Ai Weiwei’s provocateurism is not replicable. The Chinese artist’s heavy metal video makes him too popular to arrest.

Surprising discoveries

Greek yogurt’s toxic downside. A manufacturing byproduct has killed tens of thousands of fish and is driving manufacturers to despair.

Kim Jong-un loves making children cry. Actually, that’s not very surprising.

The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk lottery. The cops found guns only 0.02% of the time.

Iceberg supper clubs. Surprise! Dining atop a piece of floating ice can be dangerous

Marijuana gives pigs the munchies. What to do with those surplus leaves and stems.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, yogurt recycling ideas, and stoned pig pictures to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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