What brings the most raw, unadulterated joy into my life?

A new series of I’m Sorry, I Haven’t A Clue. I’m already giggling as soon as the theme music starts.

And The News Quiz‘s Susan Calman making her first appearance on the show is the icing on the cake.

On Net Neutrality

Comments are now open at the FCC on Docket 14-28 and 10-127 on net neutrality.

Here’s what I sent them.


I would like to first remind the Commission that the Internet is not a creation of the broadband carriers, but was created out of a collaboration between the US military, educational and research institutions, and some few early technology firms, and then given its modern face by the invention of the World Wide Web at CERN in Europe. To paraphrase a soundbite from the last election cycle, they didn’t build that.

Even so, broadband carriers are effectively claiming control over something that is not theirs, by deciding what they will carry. Their function is that of delivery of data, not of gatekeeping content.

The Internet only works when communications is free, fair, and unhampered. The reason it is a billion-dollar business is *because* of net neutrality, not in spite of it.

I for one remember connecting to the Internet before the development of flashy graphical clients and certainly before the coming of broadband internet service. I would not have my service be effectively reduced to that again in the name of private profiteering off of what must now be considered a public utility, and broadband providers must now be considered common carriers. My utility company isn’t permitted to degrade my electrical service or limit the amount of natural gas I may use if I switch providers from the main ones in the area; the same must apply to broadband carriers.

Furthermore, because of the interconnectedness that makes the Internet work, the actions of a broadband carrier go well beyond affecting only their clients. Messages are routed through many networks to get from one point to another; one carrier in between myself and someone I wish to communicate with can affect our communications, without either of us being a client of that carrier.

Lastly, there are a number of public initiatives that are put at risk by the loss of net neutrality. NASA’s Kepler project relies on citizen science — volunteers around the world — to be able to process the vast amount of data it has generated, and it has paid off in the thousands of new exoplanets discovered. There are hundreds of other citizen science projects out there, ranging from abstruse ones like longstanding number theory problems to very real-world ones on protein folding and cancer research. Few of these would survive if a carrier demanded higher rates for their data traffic; the appallingly low rate of scientific funding means almost all are running on a shoestring already.

The shadow cast by Comcast’s action is a long one, and the damage that privatizing the Internet is incalculable. The effects are beyond higher connectivity costs for users and content providers.

The Internet is no longer the plaything of nerds and technophiles; millions of people rely on it daily for far more than mere entertainment–it’s vital to our work and our lives now. Allowing broadband carriers to effectively privatize it will do nothing to enhance Internet service for anyone, and will degrade it for millions.

The FCC *must* stand in favor of net neutrality.

Stray thoughts part n, where n is a large but finite number

Re: the USA/Belgium World Cup match Tuesday. Now I know why Douglas Adams uses ‘belgium’ as a swear word. Well done, Red Devils, but dayamn.

I’m about ready to get a handlebar-mounted camera for my bike so I can record my trip to and from work, and use the stills from it to start a photo blog called “Stupid £µ¢«ing Assholes”. You know, the idiots who count bicyclists as if they’re the same as a break in traffic, or who think red lights and stop signs don’t apply to them, or are really just convinced that they drive the only real vehicle in the universe and everything else on the road is a hallucination — that last applying especially to local cab drivers.

When I Like Being Wrong

Yup, I was one of those who thought that Team US would not escape the Group of Death.

I am so proud to be wrong!

@^$*)%#$)*^@_($^!!!!!! Redux

The clouds actually cleared in time for the show – which was itself a no-show. The only images of meteors caught so far are coming from Canada, and they look like very short-track meteors, all low to the northern horizon even up there.

However, with the sky clear, I at least had the opportunity. I feel better having seen nothing, but at least getting to observe for myself, than if we’d stayed socked in and I had the chance denied. And, I saw an excellent overflight of the ISS, roughly magnitude -1.7 (translation: bloody effing bright for anything in the night sky, especially something visibly moving). The only things that get brighter than that at night are the Moon, some of the planets, and Iridium flares (which at their peak are second only to the Moon).

But Ohio? DON’T DO THAT TO ME! Sheesh…


So tonight there’s a brand new meteor shower that may actually approach meteor storm levels. The part of the sky it’s in is clearly visible from my bedroom window. And the national weather service predicts clear skies.


I so completely fucking hate Ohio weather. This is total and complete fucking bullshit of the highest order, a never before seen meteor shower and possible storm, and a clear forecast, and the sky fucking clouds over the very hour it’s supposed to start being visible.

And the worst thing of all is that it’s no one’s fault — outside of the forecasters who STILL have ‘clear’ on the forecast for tonight. And the weather isn’t their fault.

The expectations of the weather that they set, THAT is their fault.

Not good enough, Ohio!

Okay, so I know Ohio does things in a boring, plodding, Midwestern way.

But seriously, being beaten to equal marriage rights by Idaho and Arkansas?

That’s just embarrassing.

On Our Current Coinage

I have started a petition on the White House petitions site; please consider signing it. It’s not anything earth-shattering, but it is something dear to my numismatist’s heart:

In 1904, President Roosevelt sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Leslie Shaw, in which he described the then-current coins in circulation as being of “atrocious hideousness”.

Our current coinage is again of atrocious hideousness: modern designs are flat and lifeless rather than sculpted, with all the character of an arcade token. The Native American and Statehood/America the Beautiful issues do not really combat this trend.

We ask the president to direct the Treasury to redesign all American coinage, both circulating and bullion/collectible issues. We also ask for a return to classic portrayals of Liberty rather than the commemoration of historical figures, or that persons so commemorated be deceased for at least 100 years, to avoid partisanship in choosing the new designs.

I’m a longtime believer that with very few exceptions, our coins should be celebrating who we are and what we stand for, rather than former leaders. I grant freely that Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln are in a different category; that’s why I put in the ‘one century dead’ provision, so they could be retained if there was a will to.

Even just in our own lifetimes, coin designs have degraded badly. Look for a quarter from the mid-1970s or earlier, and compare it with one from 1998 or later. Our coins used to be sculpted; now they’re flat and featureless. Compare the Kennedy half dollar to the Walking Liberty half dollar — or even the Franklin half. Now, I’m a Kennedy fan, but let’s be fair, he got put on the coin out of national grief, not for his record of accomplishment.

I would love to see a return to the classic (and non-partisan) Liberty designs — the Seated, Standing and above-reference Walking Liberties are some of our most beautiful coinage, to say nothing of the St. Gauden’s $20 gold piece which is for my money (no pun intended) the single most exquisite coin ever minted. The current nickel, which looks more like Miss Hathaway from the Beverly Hillbillies than it does Thomas Jefferson, simply isn’t in the running — although the preceding “peekaboo” design from 2005 would have made a lovely successor to the old Felix Schlag nickel.

Hell to the YES! this needs to happen!

This actually trumps there being a new Cosmos series: Joel wants to reboot MST3K!!!!

Ohio weather in a nutshell

Today: 76° and sunny.

Tomorrow: 78° and sunny.

Tuesday: Chance of SNOW, low of 30°.

Ohio’s weather has been brought to you by the letters W, T and F.


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