Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Someone stole my grandpa's old Schwinn 10-speed

Someone stole my grandpa's old Schwinn 10-speed from my apartment patio this week.  Let me know if you spot it anywhere?  Offering $200 bounty for info leading to recovery.

This bicycle was incredibly valuable to me emotionally, but I did not keep it as securely as I should have done.  I just moved to Austin, and I live in a small apartment near Braker Lane and Jollyville.

You don't know how valuable some things are until they're taken from you.  This is just a bike, so it's not the end of the world.  But it was important to me.

If anyone around Austin happens to spot it, out and about, or at a pawn shop, could you please contact me as soon as possible?

Here is an imgur album of my grandfather's bicycle:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The status quo anthem

So this morning after a horrible slog through interregional Texas IH35, a pleasant jaunt around Austin via the expensive 130 Tollway in order to avoid the sad misery of south and downtown Austin traffic, only to endure a hellish trek back into the city across some side roads around a hopelessly clogged 290 West, I finally arrived at the office early enough to get settled at my desk about half past eight.  After collecting my thoughts and meditating for a few moments I began to read my e-mail, when at around a quarter to nine, I heard the sounds of music playing, very loudly, from a desk about 100 meters north from my desk.  The music spilled out into the office, and I noticed several individuals standing up at the same moment that I recognized the music as the National Anthem of the United States of America.

I stood up, and grabbed my empty cup of coffee, and began walking in the direction of the filling station which happened to be a bit closer to the anthem's broadcaster.  I could see a very large American flag hanging from the ceiling in the vicinity of the speakers from which the song was blaring.

I noticed many more individuals standing up at their desk, some with their hands over their hearts, as the music played on and I filled my cup.

I returned to my desk confused.  I have worked in government contracting agencies.  In my capacity as a civilian software developer, I have worked with men and women dressed in military uniforms.  I have never seen the national anthem played as a matter of course in a private office building before.

As I returned to my desk in my lonely anti-nationalist, pro-globalist depression, I contemplated the utter misery I experienced during my commute into work this morning.

Do I love my country?  Nope.  Not a bit.

Do I love my fellow citizens?  Yup.

But I hate them on the road, because they (my fellow countrymen, my nation) refuse to pay for roads and infrastructure sufficient to prevent an entirely miserable existence for most of us.

And yet we display our reverence for the status quo, in our office, with a soundtrack.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Re: Election Reform

Following up on: Election Reform

The Constitution spells out the algorithm for the maximum number of congressional representatives in our federal government in Article I, Section 2 where it states that "there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons."

So, 1 representative for every 50,000 citizens, maximum.

That's 6175 representatives, according to Wolfram Alpha's US population stats, which is about 14 times more representatives than the current maximum of 435.  More precisely, it is 1419% more representatives than we have right now.


Benefit 1: Corporations and lobbyists would have to increase their political bribery budgets by 1419%.  Presently, corporate lobbyists spend about US$ 3 billion each year to influence Congress.  This would theoretically have to increase to US$ 42 billion.

Benefit 2: You would probably know your representative personally.  You could probably make an appointment with him or her, and actually have a real conversation.  Your representative would only have to deal with a population the size of Paris, Texas.


Problem 1: Too many representatives to coordinate

Solution: If you divide 6175 representatives by 435, then you have about 14 congresses.  This means that nearly every major region in the United States could have its own Congress.  States-rights lovers would adore this.

The Southern states have 109,840,000 people.  That should be 2197 apportioned representatives, or about 5 congresses.  This means that the South could have 5 different Houses of Congress which would represent each of their regions.

Each of these Houses of Congress would deliberate locally on interregional matters, and would collaborate in Congressional Conventions and networked conferences using the Internet for national issues.

Problem 2: Gerrymandering

Solution: Shortest-Splitline Districting.

Here is what Texas' Congressional districts would look like if they were actually fair.

Here is what the Texas Federal Congressional districts currently look like.

Problem 3: The Electoral College

Solution: Range voting.

Further reading:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Meteorite explodes over Chelyabinsk, Russia

Wow. These are incredible videos.

Apparently a meteorite exploded over a Russian city called Chelyabinsk.

Some 4 to 5 hundred people reported injuries from broken glass and other incidental shrapnel when the shockwave of the incoming projectile exploded down into the city. No fatalities have been reported.

It is not yet known whether or not the meteorite broke apart completely or impacted in a location outside the city.

You will need Flash 10 or better to view this content.

You will need Flash 10 or better to view this content.

This is incredible.

You will need Flash 10 or better to view this content.

Slate has a far better collection of videos of the meteorite explosion.

Russian Times as well.

Simply mind-blowing.

Asteroid 2012 DA14, the size of a small building, is supposed to pass within 17,000 miles of the Earth today, February 15th, 2013. There has been no reports that the Russian meteorite event is at all related to the DA14 event but it is still an amazing and even unsettling coincidence.

If I were to speculate on any possible relationship, I could only imagine that the 2012 DA14 asteroid could possibly have been ripped apart by Earth's gravity if it encountered destructive tidal forces inside the Roche limit. Broken fragments could then have been explosively propelled into the atmosphere and onto the surface. This is of course flat out speculation, of course, and would be a rather fantastic scenario.