TT#184 - More Super Tuesday

I am very tired from work and redoing my office, so this will be more of a time capsule entry than any real analysis. For more analysis watch this weeks ORLYRADIO show # 101.

At the time of this writing:

Republicans: Kasich predictably took Ohio, Trump won Florida, making Rubio quit the race. Trump is also favored in Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina. If Ted gets any winnings they will be scraps from the billionaire's plate.  This does leave the GOP with the unenviable task of choosing a... how can I put this to where it is the most historically accurate... Fascist Andy Kaufman impression and a dominionist apocalyptic Eddie Munster son of a preacher man who is perfectly fine watching the world burn if it means the world gets to have Jesus back. I weep for the future. Oh... And there is the voice of reason, Kasich, who can't possibly win, because he may actually be sane. 

Democrats: Clinton has had a strong showing and is predicted to take all the states but not all the delegates. The Democrats like to award partials rather than a winner take all approach that the GOP favors. The tally at midnight could be different as it is being called early based on exit polls, but so far, this is pretty decisive for Clinton based on the earned delegates. She has added approximately 150 delegates to her lead on Sanders. Sanders needs California and New York, and needs them big, to compete with the media and majesty of the lady in waiting. Still a chance, but it is growing slimmer by the day.

There were a whole lot of Cruz and Trump signs in my precinct and around the state as I was driving today. This is why I am having a drink and hoping it was all a bad dream.

Topic Tuesday #176 2015/12/15 "Sabbatical"

Topic Tuesday #176 2015/12/15 "Sabbatical

sab·bat·i·cal səˈbadək(ə)l/

noun- a period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year"

Though I may not be a professor, and though I have not been doing this blog for 7 years, I am going to take a wee break. I missed one, and then two and now I am under the weather with the Christmas season upon me. I will resume the Topic Tuesday Blog in 2016.

Until then, tune in (or download) the O'Rly Radio Show with fresh content every Friday at 9:30 pm eastern, available at and on finer podcast aggregators around the world.

Topic Tuesday #174 2015/11/17 "Happy Birthday to ME!!!"

Topic Tuesday #174 2015/11/17 "Happy Birthday to ME!!!"

Google gave me a doodle for my birthday, 

Google gave me a doodle for my birthday, 

Today I am 37 years old. I would have taken the day off, but a guy at work has the same birthday and took it before I did. Dibs on next year! So I worked a full day driving for 6 hours and doing 2 hours of actual work. Once I got home, I made my own cake, devil's food this year. I shampooed carpets to get rid of cat mess (he's not liking the food or some reason). I did several loads of other people's laundry; I will get to mine eventually. I read stories to my children and then collapsed for a little bit since the shampooer atomizes the cleaning solution and it seizes up my lungs something terrible.  I don't recall birthdays being quite so... responsible? before. It's funny how life creeps up on you and the daily grind cannot be easily ignored. 

Once upon a time, while running role playing games, I suggested doing a persona game, where everyone would write up themselves, into a character sheet. We had a little game with chopping wood, throwing things, standing and running long jumps, and basically lifting heavy things. Then we would take an average of what other people thought our stats were. It was all in good fun and we were nothing if not kind to each other. So, In being kind but realistic, I thought I would revisit my stats. These are based on the AD&D 3.5 edition, now the Pathfinder rule system should you be curious.

  • Strength - 11
  • Dexterity - 10
  • Constitution - 8
  • Intelligence - 14
  • Wisdom - 16
  • Charisma - 15

Yeah, that's about right I think. 10 is pretty average, and physically I feel more average than mentally. I can perform stupid feats of strength when required, but I tend to get sick a little more often than others. I'm not the best judge of my own abilities however, so if you think I'm wrong, let me know and provide your own stats too!

Topic Tuesday #172 2015/11/03 "Elections"

Topic Tuesday #172 2015/11/03 "Elections"

It is another year and another election day (at least for some). I hope that those that were at all able were did your civic duty and voted for the most qualified candidate for the offices on the register. If you didn't, remember, next November is going to be a biggie. You can register to vote up to 29 days before the election. 

I recommend you head over to and register your email address for election alerts and to register for the first time.  

Topic Tuesday #171 2015/10/27 "Doing Something"

Topic Tuesday #171 2015/10/27 "Doing Something"

I have given it a lot of thought and I don't feel like I am doing enough. I am doing lots of things, certainly, but not in the direction I want. I am fearful of the direction the world is taking. I want the world to be the best it can be for my children and there are so many disturbing trends that are beyond my influence to change. I have this blog... I have the OrlyRadio podcast... I have people that listen and read what I have to say, though it very well could just be an echo chamber without any real impact or reach. 

Where does this line of thought lead? I asked myself that very question, and the answer is increasingly that I need to do something. If you want to change the world, you have to do it yourself. I am not really prepared to do that... I am not wealthy, nor part of a political dynasty. I know a great deal about a lot of different things but I will be the first to tell you I don't know everything and have plenty to learn. So... I will see how this 2016 election shakes out. Will the people that have the constitution to change the things that are wrong win or will we flounder under the same old business as usual system that has brought us here? I have hope, but there isn't much left. 

So... I may have to run for office. Any office.  I may have to step through several offices to make changes along the way to get things done. I may have to lose people along the way. I may have to do things I do not want to do to make the best choices. But I would then know what was in the way of those that have come before me, and that would be informative for me and the future leaders I would tell.  

I'm not perfect, no one is - but if I decide I am needed... If I am called to service to make a difference, I will. So, world... You are on notice. Get your act together, or I am coming for you.

Topic Tuesday #169 2015/10/13 "1st Democrat Debate for 2016 POTUS Primary"

Topic Tuesday #169 2015/10/13 "1st Democrat Debate for 2016 POTUS Primary"

Tonight, in about an hour, the blue team will take the debate stage. The red team has already had two so far. We will be watching both of these closely, as this is one of the most interesting and critical elections in our modern time, though I bet I say that again about the next election too...

The cast of debaters will be (in Order of popular vote) Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee. The cast of interlocutors will be Anderson Cooper, Dana Bash, and Juan Carlos Lopez, with Don Lemon monitoring the social media feeds.

There are a lot of issues to unpack and it will be fascinating to see how they all interact with each other. Safe money says it is Hillary's race to lose, and the front runner to knock her off that pedestal is Bernie Sanders. 

Let's watch and find out. 

Also, go get your flu shot. I had mine today and the pharmacist told me the CDC was correct in their selection of the flu strain this year. Stay healthy!

Topic Tuesday #168 2015/10/06 "Groupthink"

Topic Tuesday #168 2015/10/06 "Groupthink"

Groupthink? You mean something like double-think from George Orwell's 1984? Though I enjoy the fascinating and terrible implications behind some "Orwellian" revelations, groupthink is a real concept in modern psychology. According to

Groupthink occurs when a group values harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical evaluation. It causes individual members of the group to unquestioningly follow the word of the leader and it strongly discourages any disagreement with the consensus.

Why is this important enough to be a Topic Tuesday? Well, we are entering election season in the United States and there are fewer groups more polarized by ideology than those of the two main parties here in the states. Groupthink essentially explains why certain ideologies like political leanings, religious tradition, and even gender identity become an intrinsic part of a person's identity. In the case of politics a person may become very offended if their chosen candidate or pet cause is undermined and attacked. In gender you get the "Boy's Club" or the "Sewing Circle" where the other gender has no place at all. Religious people tend to be very attached to their group even if they claim a personal relationship, they will still naturally ally with those of like mind and are typically unable to separate themselves from the concepts of their faith; this can be seen when they are confronted about an inconsistency or contradiction in their doctrine. They will almost universally take it as a personal affront to them and they will respond as if they are under attack, even if it was the idea and not them personally. 

Groupthink represents the exchange of personal identity. The ego of the group is overlayed on the ego of the individual group member and is adopted as being at least as important as their own identity. You may even hear people identify so closely with group as to announce they ARE the group/thing/idea. This can be a dangerous place to tread. 

This is a cautionary tale. We are all susceptible to the power of groupthink and should remain vigilant in our own self awareness and hold all ideas to rigorous scrutiny, especially the concepts we hold most dear. 

Topic Tuesday #166 2015/09/22 "Beds"

Topic Tuesday #166 2015/09/22 "Beds"

Beds. Unless you are a wandering nomad that sleeps in odd places like park benches and bed rolls, there’s a really good chance you sleep in a bed. If you are human, then it is also likely you will spend about a third of your life sleeping in a bed. There is also a good chance you will spend even more, shall we say, recreational time in that bed, you know… watching movies or something…  After over a decade of experience in beds and bed activities... I have some advice for you on bed selection for those that may be in the market for something comfortable. This is practical advice, and not meant to be intentionally funny, though many things done in the bed are quite abstractly funny.

Size Matters: When you are little you have a crib, and eventually graduate to a big kid bed and then that twin follows you for a long time. You may be sleeping on a twin for the majority of your life between youth and old age and life circumstances in between. There is nothing wrong with a twin, if you are sleeping solo or with a small coterie of pets. When you are entertaining a guest a larger size becomes far more comfortable. If you are both twigs, then you can stay on the twin, but for average adults, you will want a bigger mattress. Heck if you become an average adult you may want to sleep on a larger bed too, such as a “Full” or a “Double”. If you are tall or like pillows, then there are longer mattresses available in the “XL” and “California” varieties. Once you consider a regular sleeping companion you have to also consider the sleeping accommodations of said companion. The industry suggests Queen and King for bed sharing, though I personally have an opinion on that which I will address shortly.

Costly Decisions: Let’s face it, a bed is an investment. They frames are expensive and often belong to an even more expensive bedroom set. A high quality mattress is several hundred to over a thousand dollars. Given this sunk cost it has an inertia that is difficult to overcome. If you get the wrong bed you are locked into all the accouterments of that size until you sink the cost again on another size category. The accumulation of accessories can be maddening if you are just getting started. At the very least, you will need at least one pillowcase, a fitted sheet and a blanket. Most people will also get a flat sheet and a bed skirt. You may also have a comforter or duvet and enough decorative pillows to populate a Pier One store... You can drop a lot of cash just on these size specific items. And keep in mind that the average bed will be with you for 10 years, by which time, you will want it gone, in a big way. They end up heavier at the end of their life than when you get them; I’ll let you figure out why, but I will say it is disgusting.

Type Of Mattress: There are also a wide array of different types of mattress. There are your basic innerspring bed. There are memory foam, Sleep Number™, adjustable (hospital), water bed, and so many pillow top variants that your head will spin. Then there are the foundations that go along with these. The most common are the box spring and the wooden slat or some combination thereof. I have seen trampoline styles and plain old hard solid bases (which could be good for those that need a firm bed), but those are usually specific to the bed frame. I won’t bother too much with frame types and styles because they are legion.

Take a-ways and life advice: Get a queen. Get a basic mattress from a place like Ikea, something that seems pretty comfy but is not too soft. When you lay on it in the store, check the foundation setup they have arranged and do your best to replicate it. Go for harder if you can and your back will thank you later as the bed is broken in and becomes softer than you expected it to be.
Pillow tops are nice and all but let’s be frank, when you are engaging in activities other than sleep, the mattress and frame are going to take some stress. A pillow top will shift under you some, not like a water bed, but I think you get the point, and if you don’t - go find out.

Why not a king? or a Sleep Number? From a financial consideration, king size lives up to the name and everything costs more. Even the pillows are bigger! Bigger is not necessarily better. A king size mattress will take up about 40 sqft. and a queen will take up 33.3 sqft. In an apartment or older home not designed for enormous bedroom sets, that matters a lot.
Now… those are major concerns, but… here is the hard truth that I have discovered: When you are with a partner for a long time, there will be a natural tendency to drift apart. A king size bed is too big and will make that drifting so casual that you won’t realize it until it may be too late. (Not the bed’s fault, but in a intimate setting distance does nothing to help remind you of any commitments you have made and make it very easy to become roommates. Similar sleep schedules would also be a wise habit.)
With “select a firmness” mattress systems, they are great for your health but when it comes time to have some fun, you have to be careful or you will tumble awkwardly into the less firm side or straddle the weird foam bolster in between the chambers. At least with the fully adjustable hospital style beds, you can make both sides go flat, just mind the gap. Seriously, humans do not need amorous activity to be any more awkward than it already is and I cannot recommend beds that keep partners more apart than is necessary. Having children and pets, I know that I can sleep on about 18 inches of mattress while the other  52 inches is taken up by the toddler who had a bad dream. One caveat, if you want to co-sleep with your new born children, then you will have plenty of room in the king, but you can still get away with the queen, so save the money and buy some diapers.

What do you think about the big old grown up bed?

Topic Tuesday #162 2015/08/25 "Musings on Transience and the Meaning of Life"

Topic Tuesday #162 2015/08/25 "Musings on Transience and the Meaning of Life"

Greetings readers. My brain seems to be short on contemplativeness this evening, so I will bring up one that tends to haunt me. Transience. 

As a human being, it seems in our nature to want to make things that last beyond us. We are all inherently afraid to die. The psychology behind this need to continue existing is long and extensive and fairly well understood academically. It stems from the basic self preservation instinct that exists in all living things. Live as long as you can to continue the species. We have our big brains to out think our biology and we can consciously choose to not produce offspring, but I have to wonder if that choice is enough. Perhaps our subconscious will always spur us forward to make something that will outlast our own pathetic life spans. Perhaps the more artistic types will give birth to a painting, novel, sculpture, a piece of music, even a simple poem. The more technical minded may create empires of technology; stone, steel, silicon. Others will create businesses that may do nothing but perpetuate themselves, constantly reinventing themselves to adjust to market forces. It seems that as a human, we are driven to create a legacy of some type, be it biological, intellectual, or something firmly tangible. 

There seems to be another component to this inborn trait: we can never really stop. We are so programmed that we will always create something. We can't help it, and perhaps those that do have the self control to say enough is enough are the broken ones, as the vast majority can never relent.

So, I often sit and ponder my legacy. I write this blog every Tuesday, as a kind of legacy; one for my daughters to read through when they are old enough to be on their own but still need to listen to their dad drone on about this or that in hopes of imparting some tidbit of helpful insight into our human condition. I still have a lot to do, and often I feel stifled. I want to write that great american novel. I want to build my dream house. I want to travel the world to see it all. I want to play though that video game and binge watch all the popular TV and movies I have collected. I have issues... I have to eat. I have mouths to feed. I have responsibilities. So my desires to curtail my own transience on the good Earth, are held in limbo among other cognitively dissonant conundrums. Metaphorically, I am on hold - doodling on the corner of an envelope, wishing I were somewhere else doing something else, while the voice of my father rings in the back of my mind.

"Be present. Be here. Here is all there is. Find happiness in the moment, for the moment will never come again."

So I smile. I listen to the hold music and feel the fan's discordant buffeting against my face. It feels good, like the physical expression of white noise. I clear my mind. I take stock. Life is pretty good when you slow down to realize you are alive and amidst a great number of perfectly improbable things. Live in the now with the aim at a better tomorrow, for yourself and others. That is your legacy, and mine.  

Topic Tuesday #161 2015/08/18 "The Ethics of Kiddie Porn"

Topic Tuesday #161 2015/08/18 "The Ethics of Kiddie Porn"

I'll be brutally honest here, I'm exhausted. I cam home after working for 12 hours and my creative juices are about tapped out. I scroll though the social media feeds in search of the rare gems for the Friday ORly Radio Show, and find a few here and there but the story that has dominated my feed is the guy from the Subway commercials that lost all the weight, he's pleading guilty for kiddie porn possession. I don't care. Seriously, this is just tabloid news to me and deserves to be next to Loni Anderson's liver spots and Bat Boy's new lady love in the super market checkout. I DON'T CARE. This is what the news cycle is though, light on issues, heavy on sensationalism. Sure, I like sensational news too, so maybe it's the topics they choose?

Kiddie porn. It's not something anyone wants to talk about except to demonize. I for one, and only one if you judge by the news, don't care about it and in fact I think that it falls under the auspices of censorship, which I am wholly against. It's not a nuke. It's not drugs. Possession of it either makes you a fed, a scumbag hustler taking advantage of children for profit, or what would commonly pass for being a sick minded person, or some combination thereof. However...  really... It's none of my business... That business is none of my business. What makes people tick is always going to be a weird malaise of possible perversions and ideas. Really, the only thing I can find fault with it is the exploitation of minors. That's it. The line gets fuzzy on the who did the exploitation and who gets off on it. Maybe you are a twisted person that needs that kind of kink to get you going... but maybe you are also the kind of person to never do it yourself, but you will look at what has already been done.

Sure then we have the argument on the supply side economics of it. If there was no one that wanted it, then it wouldn't happen... Sure. And those iPhones are just going to make themselves. There are plenty of things in this world that we take advantage of the product without considering where it came from. Meat. Clothes. Electronics. Whatever is in perfume to make it smell the way it does. And pornography.  This has always struck me as a bit of hypocritical cherry picking. This does not sanction the demand for kiddie porn, I find it vile, disgusting and many other words that mean revolting.  But, I can only judge for myself and have strong opinions about the subject. That doesn't inherently make it wrong for someone else. 

Personal autonomy means a great deal to me. You may have noticed in my posts about abortion and women's right and the right to die. You may have also noticed that these are all hotly contested subjects. So... I'm tired, and I don't want to repeat myself, so I will ask this of you, my esteemed and intelligent reader: Why? Why is it so bad? Am I wrong? Does the history of censorship and prohibition tell us nothing of the real underbelly of supply and demand for things that are taboo? Should I care about the headlines of a pseudo famous guy that got busted for child pornography? 

All I know is I don't care about the story, and I need a nap.

Topic Tuesday #159 2015/08/04 "Moving my cheese"

Topic Tuesday #159 2015/08/04 "Moving my cheese"

I have dove straight into Windows 10. This is not a post about Windows 10, but about migration habits. We have so many things that we use on a daily basis that having it readily at hand is both paramount and sometimes surprisingly difficult. Being an I guy... I have, to be quite frank, too many machines in my armada. I have multiple computers used for my day job, including multiple servers that I log into all the time. I have multiple android devices like phones and tablets that are both for work and play. I have a couple laptops and desktops at home that are for the children and myself as well as development and testing of my skills. I can't even give an accurate number to the mass of hardware I could go through on a day to day basis. So how do I have all the things I need with me? It's not an easy solution, so I have any options and use them all to varying degrees of success.

The cloud is wonderful! Wonderful for small documents and notes and pictures. Anything above 20MB and it becomes a pain because of internet performance, and if you are on a WiFi hotspot and paying for data... FORGET IT. Also there are security concerns. Data breeches are a valid concern in this day and age, so security must also be a component of any solution.

What I end up with is a hodgepodge of solutions. Some in the cloud, some on portable drives that I can take with me, some that are always going to live on a server and network drive that will be accessed by remote control. And many syncing solutions between all of these to ensure everything is up to date and consistent.

Certainly, I am an "edge case". So, I ask you... How do you do IT?

Topic Tuesday #156 2015/07/14 "Pictures of Pluto!"

Topic Tuesday #156 2015/07/14 "Pictures of Pluto!"

With the blue Atlantic Ocean as backdrop, smoke and steam fill the launch pad, at right, as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft roars into the sky aboard an Atlas V rocket. (NASA)

New Horizons launched January 19th, 2006 at 14:00 hours atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas V from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Space Launch Complex 41, after being manufactured in Maryland. It is roughly the size and shape of a baby grand piano weighing half a ton. Its mission was to complete the initial human survey of the solar system’s planets. There are 7 scientific instruments on-board (See Below), a nuclear decay power generator, the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh who discovered Pluto in 1930, a CD ROM with 434,000 names, another CD ROM with pictures of the New Horizons Team, a chunk of Space Ship One, 2 state quarters, 2 little American flags, and a US postage stamp from 1991, that says "Pluto Not Yet Explored" (29 cents).

The instruments, because I know you are curious:

  1.  Ralph: Visible and infrared imager/spectrometer; provides color, composition and thermal maps.
  2. Alice: Ultraviolet imaging spectrometer; analyzes composition and structure of Pluto's atmosphere and looks for atmospheres around Charon and Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs).
  3. REX: (Radio Science EXperiment) Measures atmospheric composition and temperature; passive radiometer.
  4. LORRI: (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) telescopic camera; obtains encounter data at long distances, maps Pluto's farside and provides high resolution geologic data.
  5. SWAP: (Solar Wind Around Pluto) Solar wind and plasma spectrometer; measures atmospheric "escape rate" and observes Pluto's interaction with solar wind.
  6. PEPSSI: (Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation) Energetic particle spectrometer; measures the composition and density of plasma (ions) escaping from Pluto's atmosphere.
  7. SDC: (Student Dust Counter) Built and operated by students; measures the space dust peppering New Horizons during its voyage across the solar system.

Today, New Horizons made it! The spacecraft did a fly by, 7,800 miles from Pluto, at 30,817 mph, to take the best pictures we have every had of the dwarf planet, before heading for the next phase of its mission, the exploration of the Kuiper Belt.

Pluto is 3,000,000,000 (3 billion) miles from Earth (at this time in it's elliptical 248 year orbit around the Sun.

That's Pluto and Charon nestled to scale between Earth and our Moon. (Copyright Walter Myers)

It takes radio signals (traveling at the speed of light) a little over 4 and half hours to reach us, at a staggeringly slow 1 kilobit per second. At that data rate, the images take almost an hour to download on a 200 foot dish antenna. 

Pluto, Hubble Image, 2010, NASA

Previous to this mission the best image we had was the second round of pictures from Hubble, seen here.

Yesterday, 7/13/2015, New Horizons gave us this image from its LORRI instrument.

More even higher resolution images and readings will be downloaded over the next days and weeks. I can't wait!!!

Pluto, New Horizons (LORRI), taken on July 13, 2015 when the spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface. (NASA)

To sum up how far we have come, the fine folks at VOX lined up these images, the one on the left is the earliest photo from Hubble, maybe before it got its glasses. 

We have now visited all the planets of the Sol System.  But there is much work still left to do. Stephen Hawking commented on this latest historic mission  and his words say it all. 

"The revelations of New Horizons may help us to understand better how our solar system was formed," Prof Hawking said. "We explore because we are human, and we want to know. I hope that Pluto will help us on that journey. I will be watching closely, and I hope you will, too."

In case you were curious, These are the years we did reconnaissance on our planetary neighbors. 

  • Mercury - 1974
  • Venus - 1979
  • Mars - 1962 Soviet, 1965 Mariner 4
  • Jupiter - 1979
  • Saturn - 1980
  • Uranus - 1986
  • Neptune - 1989
  • Pluto/Charon 2015

Take a moment, Think about the task and really applaud the team of scientists and engineers that made this happen. Remember, Space is hard. #Penny4NASA