Monthly Archives: May 2014


Predictions for next week’s Apple WorldWide developers conference.

Like Gruber says, these are more a wishlist than predictions.

I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t see huge improvements in inter-app communications. Apple needs to steal from Android here.

Financial Times is predicting a big announcement about smart homes. Nothing about smart homes looks interesting to me. I don’t need a iPhone app to turn the lights on and off. We have lightswitches for that.

Julie would like a robot to clean the litterboxes. Apple, could you get going on that?


American government can’t do anything because everything is illegal.

America is collapsing under the weight of too much law and regulation.

A short editorial and worth reading.

Revolutions occur this way. In the United States, most major changes in social policy have occurred in tectonic shifts after pressures built up for decades, such as in the 1960s (civil rights), in the progressive era (regulation) or during the Civil War (ending slavery). The New Deal (social safety nets) differed only in that pressures of the Great Depression were more immediate.

Americans know government is broken, but a vital piece of change is missing. The widespread public dissatisfaction has no center of gravity. The tea party has no coherent solution — simply getting rid of most government programs is not a workable plan. Most reform groups have lost moral authority by acting like special interests, concerned only about their cause and not the broader good. Instead of coming together to promote a new order, environmentalists, budget hawks and other reformers end up competing for airtime.

The point about single-issue pressure groups is interesting. At the turn of the last century, Prohibitionists showed America how to foment change: Pick a single issue and support any candidate who agreed with you on that issue. Now there are so many single-issue groups they arguably cancel each other out.

Teacher suspended in “pay to potty” investigation

A teacher in Vancouver, Washington, is suspended during investigations that he made kids pay in play money to use the bathroom. Several kids refused and wet themselves.

At Mill Plain Elementary in Vancouver, third grade students earn play money to buy treats.

Some students said they have to use that money to get bathroom breaks, too.

In the last week, there were two cases in which children chose to spend the money on the treat instead of a trip to the bathroom.

Julie and I spent a couple of hours yesterday rearranging my office

Previously, it looked like this photo. Note the window behind the big display — that’s bad lighting. I was working with the sun in my eyes.

There is also a row of glass bricks in the wall which had been behind me. The light bounced off the screen.

I’ve had my desk set up that way for at least four years, but the glare only started bothering me in the past couple of months.

The desk was perpendicular to the wall, which put it in the middle of the room.

That arrangement seemed good in theory, and I could argue why it was an effective use of space. In theory. In reality, the whole arrangement made the room far more cluttered than it needs to me.

And it got even worse when we moved Minnie’s crate into the room, and put it next to my desk. Now there was barely room to walk around.

I spent a good part of Saturday and Sunday clearing clutter out of my office. Julie and I started Monday afternoon with the simple goal of covering the glass bricks with opaque fabric to reduce the glare. Standing under the glass bricks gave me a perspective on the room from a corner of the room I never use. I looked around and said, you know, putting up this fabric is gong to be a big job. It would be about the same amount of work to just move the desk. And that would reduce glare and make better of use of space.

So now my desk is up against the wall, between the two windows you see in the photo I linked to above. It’s more or less in the same place it was, but turned 90 degrees to face the wall. Minnie’s crate is against another wall, perpindicular to the desk.

I have a lot more space in the office. And the sun will hopefully no longer reflect off my big display.

One of the reasons I previously resisted this arrangement was I didn’t like the idea of having my computer display backed against the wall. I didn’t like the idea of staring at a wall all day. But that was silly. I’m barely aware of what’s behind my display; when I’m looking in this direction I’m looking at the display, not what’s beyond it. And I’m more likely to look out the window now — I just have to turn my head in either direction, even a little, and pow! window!

All in all a better arrangement. Thanks, Julie!

Hopefully we’ve achieved the initial goal — reducing glare. I’ll know this afternoon. Afternoon is when the glare becomes a problem this time of year.

By the way, the link above goes directly to an image for this article I wrote in Sept 2011 about using a standing desk. I still use the same setup with one significant difference: Rather than having a second desk for sitting, I got a tall drafting stool. Now when I want variety from standing I just hop up on the stool and continue working in the same place. You can buy adjustable desks for $800 and more that convert from standing to sitting; I think my arrangement is far, far better.


The Americans is a realistic portrayal of undercover espionage, say Cold War spies.

It’s pretty much as it happened in real life, with some liberties.

Does The Americans portray the US and USSR as morally equivalent? Were they morally equivalent in real life?

In the name of fighting Communism the US supported dictators, trained torturers, and overthrew democratically elected governments. We have the largest percentage of our population in prison than any nation in the world. Were we better than our enemies? Are we better today?

I’d say yes, because we had and have great swathes of freedom and prosperity our enemies lack. Sure, we do a lot that is evil, but we also do a great deal of good. Not everyone enjoys freedom, even within the borders of the US, but hundreds of millions do.


May 25, 2014

That moment you think the dog is licking your toes and you realize the dog is nowhere around.