Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday Weekly Bits and Pieces - 18 Dec 2013

This is a pretty slim week, and I might skip next week (since it will be Christmas Day and I'll probably be exhausted from those three spirits who always visit me the night before Christmas).

Today, three years ago, Darling's Mother passed away in the hospital. She was an amazing woman, though she and I had some tough interactions. That happens when you live with someone so hard-headed for a decade (you decide who I mean). If you're short of Christmas presents, you could give that special someone a copy of my book, My Mother-in-law Misadventures. You can buy the Kindle or get the paperback (and thanks! Let's get sales into double digits!).

China landed on the moon. I think that's a most important story. It's all over the internet, but here's one link to the story. China is now the third country to make a soft landing on our natural satellite, the first soft Moon landing in 37 years.

You'll read about it anyway, so I might as well add it. Two people won the MegaMillions lottery, one in San Jose, CA and one in Atlanta, GA. Merry Christmas to both of them! I won't even put a link - just logon to CNN or something.

Ross Eisenbrey has a theory of why Detroit went bankrupt. I no longer live in MI but this one interests me. He says it wasn't the pension payments, which is what is widely advertised. It seems to be a combination of three factors (a system, people!):
Depleted tax base.
Detroit took a lot of loans.
Corporate loopholes and subsidies.

He says the "dynamics at play in Detroit are the same dynamics creating the growing wealth gap and keeping our economy from making a lasting and sustainable economic recovery. While Wall Street and corporations profit handsomely from a city's decline, public workers—the city's middle class—have sacrificed time and again."

People don't want to live in Detroit any more. Because of onerous tax burdens on retirees, many people no longer want to live in Michigan. Not to mention the other stupid things the State government is doing to drive people away. Are you listening to me, Governor Snyder?

DNA just got more complicated. Our genetic code has a second set of instructions embedded in it. I'm not surprised. There are probably more layers we don't even know about yet.

Esquire listed the ten essential books for life (for guys).
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, Dino by Nick Tosches, U.S.A by John Dos Passos, The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams, The Professional by W. C. Heinz, A Sense of Where You Are by John McPhee, Advise and Consent by Allen Drury, What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer, Women by Charles Bukowski, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality by Sigmund Freud

I read The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells when I was younger, but that's not the same. I've not read any of this list. I'm not sure I will, but maybe some of you have? Let me know in the comments.

Bill Gates has seven books he thinks everyone should read, too. None are fiction, and I noticed my book wasn't on his list. The Box by Marc Levinson, The Most Powerful Idea in the World by William Rosen, Harvesting the Biosphere by Vaclav Smil, The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond, Poor Numbers by Morten Jerven, Why Does College Cost So Much? by Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman and The Bet by Paul Sabin. Yeah, I haven't read ANY of those books either.

Who says Harlem is a bad place to be lost in New York? Oh, that was me. It was close to three in the morning, I was exhausted and we made a wrong turn. A very wrong turn… But that's a different story. The Nation's Largest, Free Public Wi-Fi Network is Coming to Harlem and will be complete by May 2014. I think that's awesome.

On a more cautious technology note, "Bot traffic was on the rise in 2013, with approximately 61.5 percent" of website traffic generated by bots. A third of those, though, are search engines and other legitimate bots. Bad bots were up only about 8 percent over last year. Bad Robot. Keep your anti-virus updated, folks.

Tim Bajarin lists his top tech trends for 2014. We'll visit this list again next year.
Google Will Spin Off Motorola (probably)
Apple Will Release a Groundbreaking Productivity Device (hopefully)
Smartphones and Beacon-Based Sensors Become a Very Big Deal (not quite this quickly)
Smartwatches Die in 2014 (yeah, I think so)
The PC Market Could Actually Grow in 2014 (probably)
He was right last year when he predicted that seven inch tablets would dominate that market niche. Sort of.

If you want forecasts (Futurists like to use that term, since "prediction" is misleading), go straight to The Futurist, the magazine of The World Future Society.  

To get a pretty good idea what makes a good Futurist, read this article by Alf Rehn about annoying Futurists! He lists nine that he dislikes. The Obfuscator/Obscurantist, The Shock-Jock, The Mindless Optimist/Pessimist, The Pseudo-Academic, The Trendster, The Neologizer, The Cookie-Cutter, The Proselytizer, The Mystic. Chances are, even if you don't know any Futurists, you know some people like these.

Michael Lee also writes a good article extolling the virtues of Al Gore's latest book. I personally think Gore falls into one of those previously mentioned annoying categories (you decide), but I like Lee's article.

I noticed this a few months ago - the number of "schools" offering classes to jump-start your education in coding and advertising exceptional salaries for those who take the courses. Here's something closer to the truth. I have invested some hundreds (and hundreds) of dollars into training for doing apps and publishing. The bottom line is that the information is available for much less than I spent and considerably less than the tens of thousands of dollars these courses cost. If you want more information, leave me a note and I'll try to respond with some direction.

I'm just going to leave this in as links to the series of articles that ARS Technica has on the new Steam OS. I still have to digest them to make sense of them, so I won't even pretend to understand it all yet.

Oculus Rift is one to keep an eye on - or both eyes, actually. Oculus Rift raised more money to bring their VR to market. I think this technology is the forerunner of what will change the world. Combined with Google glass… well, let your imagination take you to the Holo-deck.

Bethesda is more than a cool city in Israel or a city in Maryland with Bethesda Naval Hospital (my Dad was stationed there for a couple years when I was in my teens). Bethesda is also the company that brings us fantastic games, like Skyrim, which I am playing again. They put out a Christmas card. Sadly, it doesn't look like we'll get a Fallout 4 next year, but I still have to finish Fallout 3 and the DLCs that go with it.

The Holderness family put out a Christmas video, and it has gone viral. As it should. Awesome jammies. I thought it was good, but…

… I really thought this one was fantastic, too! Go watch the "Les Miserables" Flash Mob video. I dare you to get the tune out of your head after.

For the cute picture of the day, I have to go with Kerri Pajutee's miniature sculptures.

Thanks for reading. God bless you and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


  1. I read Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison for class. Very eye-opening as far as race and class and civil rights go, but a tough read and not one I'm likely to revisit. I think you'd like Richard Wright's short stories better -- he's a contemporary of Ellison's, but his style would suit you better, methinks. His stories are difficult but can be funny, too. Never heard of the books on your other lists.

  2. You should make your own list of Must Read books! I will, too, if you do!