October 25th, 2012


[links] Link salad is Brian, and so is its wife

There She Blows! 'Tis the Contract for Moby Dick! — Huh. Cool.

Colon Cancer: Aspirin May Improve Survival in Some — Not sure if I'm in this pool or not.

The Snail Wrangler — Wow. Who knew the intricacies of escargot? (Via my Dad.)

MIT's artificial leaf is ten times more efficient than the real thing — This is seriously cool. (From Lisa Costello via Stupidest Genius I've Ever Met.)

Carrier at New Orleans: 1910Circa 1910. "Southern Pacific R.R. transfer boat Carrier at New Orleans." For some reason, this image fascinates me.

How the Chinese and the Greeks viewed (pretty much) the same sky — (Via Lisa Costello.)

A small (but glorious) world: The best microscope images of 2012Spiders, fossils, brains, and eyes all make the grade.

Why We Can't Solve Big Problems — Interesting article, though I think the author gives shorter shrift to the market-based explanation than it deserves. The fundamental shift in investment patterns that came to fruition in the 1980s from long-term value investing to manic focus on quarter-over-quarter gains made long-term research and development, especially pure research, much harder to justify in corporate America. This same attitude has leaked into government, viz the endless budget cuts at NASA, NSF and so forth. I really do think Big Money bears a lot of the responsibility for this loss of human capacity.

Seismologists Convicted of Not Predicting Earthquake — A US legal analysis of the recent travesty of justice in Italy. Freakonomics with more on this.

Bitten: Apple's 'blasphemous' logo under fire in RussiaSome Russian Orthodox Christians see the iconic logo as a symbol of sin that they would like to see outlawed. Really? This kind of nonsense is what faith-based thinking gives you. (Thanks to David Goldman.)

Why Are States So Red and Blue? — A fascinating cultural and psychological riff on voting patterns. (Thanks to [info]shsilver.)

Conservative Media Ignore GOP Voter Registration Fraud — Gee, ya think? That's a big advantage of living in a post-truth, non-reality-based world. You can edit out all those inconvenient "facts" and "data" with their liberal bias. Oh, look, ACORN! (Snurched from Steve Buchheit.)

Five Ridiculous Congressional Candidates Who Will Probably Win — Hey, they actually found a Democrat to criticize!

Sen. Cornyn Defends Mourdock’s Comment On Pregnancies From Rape — That would be the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Tell me again that this senseless cruelty isn't a core Republican value?

What “health of the mother” meansWhen cancer was suspected during my pregnancy, I faced a decision no woman wants -- and few politicians understand. No one who needs to read this article ever will, sadly. And if somehow they do, as it emits from the reality-based community, it will be dismissed as liberal lies. Because senseless cruelty to women sells much better to the Republican base than any amount of reality.

Pregnancy as Labor — Ta-Nehisi Coates on a similar theme, in further reference to the senseless cruelty of core Republican values regarding women's lives and health.

Mourdock, Rape as a Gift of God, and Islamic Sharia — To put this in simple terms, government by Christian theology is no better than government by Islamic theology. Thanks to the GOP's decades-long embrace of theocracy while trolling for votes, Christianity is far more of a danger to the United States than Islam can ever hope to be.

‘Fairness and integrity’: The New Yorker endorses President Obama

Powell standing by Obama in 2012 presidential raceSpeaking of Obama, Powell said the president got the United States out of Iraq and has laid out a plan for leaving Afghanistan "and didn't get us into any new wars." Mighty generous of you, Colin, since it was your good name and reputation that gave considerable political cover to the knowing, cynical lies that the Bush administration used to get us into those wars.

Poll: Gender gaps all but gone in White House race — I find this bizarre if true. (Polls are sometimes quirky.) The GOP has experienced a substantial gender gap in the female vote for quite a while now in presidential elections. Which given their positions on women's health, reproductive rights, and equal pay for equal work only makes sense. In fact, what does amaze me is that any women vote Republican, ever. It's almost as weird as gays who vote Republican. Or middle class people. Or people in states that are net beneficiaries of government spending (i.e., virtually all of the so-called "Red states".) One of the great triumphs of the modern Republican party is getting millions of people to vote directly against their own personal and economic interests time and time again. I guess that's the value of a post-truth worldview.

How Mitt Romney Gets So TanA source lets BuzzFeed in on a campaign mystery: It's a spray tan. “It's not like Mitt Romney can go chill out on a beach right now; he needs a quick fix.” So R. Money's tan is every bit as sincere as the rest of him?

?otD: But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, viniculture, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hour (WRPA, research for the Sekrit Projekt, plus opening the story stub)
Body movement: 0.5 hour stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.75 hours (fitful)
Weight: 229.8
Currently reading: n/a


[cancer] Even less hair

Jersey Girl in Portland was over again yesterday afternoon. She and Lisa Costello organized me for a closer shave of my head and beard. This was possible because of the skip week I'm on with last week's chemo slip. That allowed my Vectibix rash and Doxycycline sun sensitivities to subside sufficiently for my skin to heal some. So Jersey Girl went after it using clippers and the number one guard. I very much doubt I can tolerate a razor, so I'm down to fine stubble, sort of like a 1970's GI Joe doll gone feral.

Photo by Lisa Costello, © 2012, used with permission

I miss my hair.

Chemo again tomorrow.


[personal] Lightning rod for terrible customer service

More grumbling, feel free to ignore.

Apparently the universe heeded my grumbling on Tuesday about Apple's warranty service policies [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] because yesterday I got seriously pwned in the customer service department by both the SE Portland location of Papa Haydn's restaurant and my good friends at the Portland Pioneer Place Apple Store.

My aunt M. was briefly in town from Colorado, so she and [info]tillyjane (a/k/a my mom) and my dad and (step)mom and Lisa Costello and I went out for lunch. Where it took Papa Haydn's over forty-five minutes to get our orders out from the kitchen. That would be four sandwiches and one bunless hamburger. Not exactly a weird special order. What made matters a lot worse was after the first five or ten minutes, our waiter vanished and hid from us. We got no updates or apologies or explanations or help. Instead we got to watch other tables get seated, served and cash out while we waited for our food. These days, on chemo, long delays for food are extremely troublesome for me, and my willingness to be good humored about problems is a lot less than normal. But the total lack of engagement by the waiter was really the topper. One bad lunch has managed to irritate me enough to wipe out a decade of goodwill from pleasant dining experiences and tasty food.

In fairness, after Lisa Costello and I left to get back to our respective Day Jobbery, the host apparently came over and made some amends. Would have been nice if they'd done anything whatsoever in the hour or so I was sitting in the restaurant, almost all of it waiting unacknowledged for whatever the hell happened to our order in the kitchen. I won't be going back to Papa Haydn's. Not with those kind of kitchen and server training issues.

Later that same day, Team E— went to pick up [info]the_child's MacBook Pro from its repairs at the Pioneer Place Apple Store. Apparently you cannot pay for something at the Apple Store with a credit card over the phone. I explained to the Apple employee waiting on Team E— that I was very ill, and could not come down to the store in person. She apologized. I asked to speak to the manager. She went off, then came back. The Apple Store manager refused to even speak to me, merely instructing the front line employee to re-iterate the policy. Team E— had to leave, I had to go out to the ATM to get cash to pay for this, coordinate deliver of the cash to Team E—, and they have to make another trip today.

I understand why some establishments won't do a Card Not Present transaction. It's a fraud issue. That policy causes problems for me personally, and is not the least bit disability-friendly in general, but I recognize my needs are shared a very small fraction of Apple Store customers. However, the manager declining to speak to a customer on request is inexcusable. Unfortunately for me, unlike Papa Haydn's, I don't have a serious alternative to going to Apple for service and repairs. There is another Apple Store much further across town, and there are some independents here who can in some circumstances honor AppleCare warranties. Why the hell the manager wouldn't just talk to me in the first place baffles me.

So, yeah, grumbling.