Thursday, July 14th, 2022

« Previous Day Next Day »

I don't know why, but for some reason, I have been misdoing Markdown's long quotes since I started using it for this blog. The details don't matter, but it's fixed now. I started writing a fix for it last night but my initial version didn't fix it correctly, but now, thanks to a middle-of-the-night eureka - I figured it out and have fixed it.

7/14/2022 3:02 am | | Tags: glowbug, programming

Chinese Cyber-Scam Companies Keep Slaves in Cambodia

Just incredible to hear about.

Here's a news article about it from March:

Thirty-five civil society groups said reports indicated that thousands of people, mostly foreign nationals, had found themselves trapped in large compounds and forced to work after being kidnapped, sold, trafficked, or tricked into accepting jobs in Cambodia.

Most of the alleged victims were put to work in online scamming operations, targeting foreign nationals who live outside the country, primarily based from here in the southern port town of Sihanoukville, which has a long held a reputation as a notorious haven for criminals who operate with impunity.

7/14/2022 3:14 am | | Tags: scams, slavery

"World's oldest tree still growing near the Norwegian-Swedish border"

Emphasis mine:

Not many years ago, Norwegian schoolchildren learned that spruce trees came to Norway from the east between 2 000 and 3 000 years ago.

But ten years ago, researchers at Umeå University in Sweden discovered a tree up on Fulufjället – in Sweden just east of Trysil municipality in Norway. The tree turned out to be 9 500 years old.

7/14/2022 3:24 am | | Tags: science, nature

"The Sanaa Palimpsest: A truly fascinating Quranic manuscript"

First, a reminder (for some) on what a 'palimpsest' is:

a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.

So it's when you write something, then the paper gets reused and simething new is written over it.

The most unusual feature of the Sanaa manuscript is that both texts – the original and the newer, superimposed text – are fragments of the same text, the Quran, and were separated by several decades apart.

According to tradition, the canonical Quran is an irreproachable record of the words revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by God in the mid-seventh century CE. In which case, the obvious question is why the original underlying text was erased only to be replaced a few decades later.

7/14/2022 3:30 am | | Tags: history, arabic, archaeology, quran, muslim

Bertrand Russell reminds us that telling someone to be happier isn't exactly productive

From The Conquest of Happiness:

There is no arguing with a mood; it can be changed by some fortunate event, or by a change in our bodily condition, but it cannot be changed by argument.

7/14/2022 3:41 am | | Tags: philosophy, happiness

37 Years Ago Today

7/14/2022 6:12 am | | Tags: music, queen

"WA Poll shows Patty Murray up big over Tiffany Smiley"

I would have been shocked if it was anywhere near a close race.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray holds a substantial 18-point lead over Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley, claiming huge majorities of Democratic voters and breaking even with independents, in a new poll commissioned by The Seattle Times and partners.

Murray, a Democrat seeking a sixth term in office, leads Smiley 51% to 33%, according to the WA Poll.

7/14/2022 6:39 am | | Tags: washington state, us politics, senate

"Inside Clean Energy: Some EVs Now Pay for Themselves in a Year"

I had really really wanted to make my current "new" car an EV. I really did. But I couldn't find an EV option which I was comfortable inside and which fit our budget. But I am committing here, finances allowing, regardless of size - our next car will be electric. Granted, based on our current purchasing frequency, that is ten years down the road. We'll see.

Most of us think of gasoline prices in terms of dollars per gallon, not dollars per barrel. Luckily, when Molchanov did his analysis he used numbers even English majors could understand. A gallon of gas cost $3.10 in 2021, according to the Energy Information Administration. That same gallon costs a lot more this year, and Molchanov doesn’t expect things to get better. He expects the average cost for 2022 to be about $4.50 per gallon. But while gas prices have jumped about 45 percent, Molchanov expects electricity costs to increase in 2022 by just 6 percent, from 13.7 to 14.5 cents per kilowatt hour. It suddenly got a lot cheaper to charge a battery than fill up a gas tank.

7/14/2022 6:42 am | | Tags: electric vehicles, clean energy, climate change

A good interview with Charles Kenny

Bold in below quotes is the question carried over from the link. My only edit to a quote below was to elide portions.

In a case like climate change, we see sort of a fascinating “stuff” and “nonstuff” problem, where we need to do the engineering and we need to get people to enable the conditions for that engineering work to happen fast enough and then put it in place. Pandemics are another case like that.

So take pandemics. You can see the last three years in sort of two different ways. One is of immense human progress, driven by human cooperation. So when I got my first Pfizer shot, we were talking about a vaccine that was developed more rapidly than any vaccine in history. It was developed in an effort that involved the world. So you had the Hungarian scientists working in the United States who did some of the underlying research. And in Emma Rene, you had the children of Turkish refugees in Germany who actually developed the vaccine. You had the Greek [immigrant] who moved to America and ran the company that produced it. In my case, you had the Vietnamese woman who actually stuck the injection into my arm, now living in the United States: global cooperation at its best. It was a sign of what we can accomplish.


When you look at the state of the progress movement today or the state of the fight against climate change or the state of the fight against pandemics, where do you see us falling, on that narrow line between too much doom and too much satisfaction?

With climate, I feel that the doom has won out. You mentioned a while ago that you were looking for a book for your child on climate change that wasn’t all doom and you couldn’t find one. And I think that does reflect sort of the general discourse on climate in a really disappointing way.


What would you say to skepticism of progress that’s coming from people feeling like promises were made about the future that the future didn’t live up to, that progress hasn’t delivered on its promises?


I’m a bit of a skeptic about happiness literature. I don’t think that we ought to be maximizing subjective well-being on a scale of 1 to 10 as a sole public policy aim. But I do think the subjective well-being literature points you in a bit of a direction. [Subjective well-being] has been flatlining in many countries around the world, many rich countries around the world, over the last 10, in some cases, 20, 30, 40 years — it depends what question you ask, but there’s good reasons to think we’re not seeing a massive increase in happiness.

And so, you know, if people thought that what material progress was going to deliver was sort of human perfection, they’re right to be disappointed, I guess I would say. I think they were naive to expect that to begin with, but that’s easy to say after the fact.

7/14/2022 6:53 am | | Tags: climate change, interview, weather, world politics

Historical Fiction: Toussaint Louverture, James Madison, the War of 1812

Disclaimer: The following is a half-baked story idea that came to me as I listened to a lecture regarding Toussaint Louverture. I am not an expert on his life, the Haitian revolution, nor even the US' War of 1812, though I feel I know most about it of the other topics. I encourage you to delve into these things, each of them are fascinating pieces of history from what I do know.

What if Toussaint Louverture, leader of the Haitian revolution had lived long enough to spread it to the American southern colonies, as well as the colony which we now know of as Florida. So the southern colonies go into revolt, and it is a long bloody civil war. The North ends up joining in fighting for the Southern free men, despite largely being antislavery due to President Jefferson's beliefs and his southern heritage. This is a very unpopular move stirring up even more unrest in the fledgling country. Seeing all of this going on is what triggers England's attack and causes the War of 1812.

But, James Madison was elected just prior to England's attack, and to his credit and he had already been intending to seek peace with Toussaint and the southern rebellion leaders. He is able to make a deal with the southern rebellion, to his credit they will remain part of the USA, but they will be granted freedom, equal rights, reparations, as well as a rushed agreement to restructure Congress to drive more equitable representation, the state that will become Florida becomes New Saint Domingue, and French officially becomes a national language alongside English.

In exchange, with a signature and guarantee Congress will agree to all these demands, the Southern rebellion joins the fight against the British and the combined forces sweep north to force out the British.

7/14/2022 9:08 am | | Tags: fiction, historical fiction

Mayhem in the Morra by Mark Esserman

Stepped away from the computer for lunch and set out a physical chess board and began studying with this book. I generally play the Smith-Morra gambit if my opponent gives me the opportunity and have found it quite to my liking, though as I started in the book I immediately realized I have not been following some of the central tenets of it. Looking forward to improving my results when I play it!

7/14/2022 12:51 pm | | Tags: chess

"IOC reinstates Jim Thorpe as sole winner of 1912 Olympic decathlon and pentathlon"

Jim Thorpe, stripped of his 1912 gold medals because he'd been paid to play minor league baseball, was reinstated Thursday as the sole winner of that year's Olympic decathlon and pentathlon by the International Olympic Committee.

7/14/2022 7:55 pm | | Tags: olympics, first nations

Jordan B. Peterson’s DIY Cult: When Malicious Nonsense Passes for Worldly Wisdom

None other than one of the NBA's all-time greats, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has had enough of Jordan Peterson's bullshit:

Jordan B. Peterson is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. He has announced his bold decision to publicly martyr himself—like all good cult leaders—by choosing death over retracting a recent tweet that got him suspended by Twitter. “The suspension will not be lifted unless I delete the hateful tweet in question,” he announced. “And I would rather die than do that.” Death wasn’t one of the options in Twitters’ terms of service agreement, but Peterson is nothing if not self-importantly melodramatic. He sees himself as a cultural lightning rod absorbing the charged bolts of wokism that is setting ablaze traditional values. In reality, he’s just an embittered crank.


First, we need to understand why when Jordan Peterson says something—even something as juvenile as the tweet that got him suspended—it’s important. Pied Piper Peterson has a large following of cultish devotees that are deeply influenced by his words. He has 4 million followers on Instagram, 2.1 million on Twitter, 1.5 million on Facebook, 5 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, and his books have sold millions of copies. He is guru to many disaffected young white men who feel under attack just for being born male and white. He articulates their self-doubt, anger, and frustration. If only Uncle Jordan’s hearty bro advice wasn’t so lazy and superficial.

I must admit, his intellectual framing almost drew me in. Thankfully I was alerted to the more problematic portions of his ideologies and presence online and I hit eject and have never looked back.

7/14/2022 8:03 pm | | Tags: criticism

"Fact Check: Joe Biden Says Guns Are Biggest Killer of American Children"

User /u/LibraryGeek on Reddit gives the following summary:


Statistics from the CDC show that firearm deaths were the leading cause of death for children aged 1-19. Although that analysis does not count infants, firearm deaths would still be the leading cause of death among children if they were."

But you know, the 2nd amendment and all...

7/14/2022 8:31 pm | | Tags: gun control, us politics, school shooting
« Previous Day Next Day »