Friday, October 3, 2008


Recipe for a Successful (Passed) 700 Billion dollar Bailout Bill:

1) Take one fiscally irresponsible, economically unsound, Bailout bill which does not pass the smell test with fiscal conservatives

2) Add pork (and MORE COSTS) to taste

3) ???

4) Profit

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Proposed Endangered Species Act Changes

Disclaimer: I work for an environmental organization. In the past four years, I have worked with a number of NGOs and a government environmental agency on wildlife conservation. Naturally, the opinions expressed here are mine alone and have nothing to do with any of my employers, past, present, or future. This goes for everything you see here!

Disclaimer 2: Big ups to Treehugger, the AP, NWF, and all the other organizations and publications who are covering this news.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is a hassle. It’s a great big roadblock in the way of land development, public works projects, new construction. It is often the bane of businesses, especially developers and construction firms.

And that’s precisely the point.

Originally enacted in 1973, the ESA developed a list of species threatened with extinction, rules for modifying the list, and regulations designed to protect listed species. In the last thirty five years, it has been the cornerstone of wildlife conservation law in the United States, providing relief for iconic species like the bald eagle. One of the things the ESA does is demand that anyone doing any kind of land development that might affect the habitat of a listed species must go through a strict (and often arduously long) vetting process in which United States Fish and Wildlife Service experts and independent scientists determine if the project will unduly impact the species. If you cannot demonstrate how your project will avoid damaging habitat or impacting endangered species, it’s a no-go.

As with any policy that slows development, the ESA has always had its detractors. Since its inception, developers (and their friends in the Capitol and on K Street) have tried to de-claw the legislation, removing its impediments to development. The most recent attempt took the Congressional route, with FORMER California rep Richard Pombo trying to pass an amendment delegating the federal government’s authority over the ESA to the individual states.

Pushback from environmental groups and citizens managed to derail this potentially disastrous amendment.

Anyways, this is a long introduction to the news this week: Seeing that they couldn’t accomplish their goal of de-clawing ESA through Congress, the Bush administration has decided to use technical wiggling to force administrative policy changes through the Department of the Interior to accomplish the same goal.

Read this next part carefully:

They want to take the vetting authority for ESA away from FWS experts and independent scientists and give it to…wait for it… the same federal agencies responsible for completing the questioned public works projects.

Wait, that can’t be right. They can’t be serious. They want to put the oversight role into the hands of the… people we’re supposed to be overseeing? That’s like giving the chief of police the job of investigating corruption in the department. Or, more bluntly, like letting the fox watch the henhouse.

This is not the first time the environmental movement has fought this battle. It will not be the last time. Like any fight, from wildlife to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to climate, it will come up over and over again. We environmentalists have to win EVERY TIME. They only need to win once. Once they drill in ANWR, or nuke the ESA, we can’t undo the damage. Not to be over dramatic, but the worlds environmentalists are the soldiers on the wall, trying to make progress while simultaneously constantly struggling to prevent irreparable backslides.

We need every single vote and voice we can get. Letting them win, letting them do their
permanent damage for some short term economic boost, would be a travesty. It would be the most profane thing we could do to our planet, and our children.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hidden Lives

First off: I apologize for the large break I took. Lack of posting is not surprising considering my personality, but it is regrettable nonetheless. Hopefully, with Mr. Rob K living a mere 10 yards down the hall, we can pester each other into posting consistently. I won't bore you with the details of my life and instead will venture forth towards the point of this post.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that there exists a Sub-culture devoted to Barrista-ing (bartenders at coffee shops) and coffee tasting/making. People train and study and investigate everything there is to know about coffee and coffee preparation. You might not be so surprised, as Wine has a subculture much older and more acclaimed that is very similar. The point that arises from this is the fact that there is a COFFEE subculture. Peoples lives are devoted to it. People have devoted their lives to something that I will never know almost anyhting about, will likely never be in the news prominently, and will have no massive effect on the future of humanity. Thousands of people will live and die studying coffee, and had I never stumbled across it, or inquired further when it was mentioned in passing, I would have NEVER KNOWN.

Doesn't that make you think? There are some things out there, that some people will devote their entire lives to and you will never know that such a devotion even EXISTED. You know there are people who spend their lives studying law, politics, medicine, art, or literature. These are all given; they are prominent in american society. However, there are things people devote their lives to that you will just never even hear about.

This is going to be a short post simply because I don't HAVE a point. This is just something that caught in my mind like a fish hook with no line. It tugs and bothers me, but has no real affect, I dont know what to make of it, and I can't rid myself of its barbed point. Should I myself find a subculture like this and devote myself to it? Are these identities less important because they are out of the public limelight or don't affect the masses? Are they MORE important because they are the subtlies that contitute freedom and uniqueness? How does one fall into such a culture? Chance? Luck? Fate?

I do know one thing. I am going to spend some time making sure none of these cultures pass me by. Because who knows, perhaps if I dont look hard enough, maybe the one that calls to me will pass me by.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Funny story:
Years ago a Simpsons episode came out in which it is revealed that Homer's e-mail address is

I thought that was hilarious, so I put the screenname at the top of my AIM buddy list, where it stayed all these years.

Well, the screenname has just come logged on for the FIRST TIME in all of these years... with a profile full of malware download links!

I feel betrayed.

We're BACK

So, I had my 22nd birthday on Monday. I had an incredible time, thanks to my many amazing friends, wonderful family, peerless roommates and breathtaking girlfriend.

What does this mean for this blog? Aside, of course, from the fact that it apparently receives new posts now? Well, it means that I am an old man who needs to observe the habits of other old men. With that in mind, here's a trend that I find disturbing.

I've been hearing a lot of people say "My knowledge/skill set is important and valid, and yours is trivial." This is a pheonomenon you could call a "skills generation gap". I've seen countless examples, here are a few:

1) "X percent of Americans cannot locate Iraq on a map"
2) "Kids can't spell today because they rely on SpellCheck"
3) "People don't write letters or make phone calls, its all texts and im"

And so on and so forth. The first example is probably the most prominent, and is the one that got me thinking.

Does it matter that some disgustingly high percentage of American schoolchildren can't find Iraq on a map? Or that they don't know the capital of Missouri, or the year the Tet Offensive took place, or the 26th President of the United States?

The common defense of the younger generation is "I don't need to know that, because I can just Google it." This defense is met with eye-rolling and exasperated sighs from the Old Guard. And yet, it is completely accurate.

Between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey; 1968; and Teddy Roosevelt.

That took me about 20 seconds. Literally.

What is the value of equipping a person with information that he or she can access instantaneously? If I spent years packing my head with facts, figures, and dates just to save myself those 20 seconds, would that be time well spent?

Now I understand what the critics are getting at. The new generation needs to be informed. We need, more than ever, to understand the dynamics of government and international relations. We need to hold our elected officials to a higher standard than the previous generation did. We need to involve ourselves.

What we DON'T need is an encyclopedic knowledge of trivia. We live in a new era of information availability, an era in which the ability to acquire information efficiently is far more valuable than the ability to memorize facts.

Monday, April 7, 2008

To answer that question...

If you could go back in time and talk to any one person, who would it be?

I've been asked this question dozens of times over the course of my...short? long? midrange? (at 21 where am I on that scale now? I like to think I am still plenty young, so i'll go with that) life. Normally I answer with a joke or something like "Aristotle as long as he spoke english!! lolz." But often times I say, "I don't know, I'll have to think about it." Well, to all of you who have asked me this question over the years, I finally have my final answer.

The answer finally came to me after finishing Jeff Shaara's latest book, The Rising Tide, a great book about World War II. For those of you that have not read the Shaara books, I highly recommend them, they offer an interesting look into the reality of the greats Wars that our country has fought in and defined itself with. They start with Michael Shaara's masterpiece, The Killer Angels, and span every war America has fought in (save the war of 1812). I guarantee they will spark your interest in history. (Mr. Shaara I know you are reading this and I expect some sort of repayment for the surge of sales you are likely to get from my reader base of three people)

Back to the point, Shaara does a good job of portraying the hardships these great historical figures had to undergo, both mentally and physically, to make the world a better place. So when reviewing the question at hand, I realized something. Who am I to travel back in time and demand a meeting with these people? Who am I to stand in front of Washington, or Aristotle and demand he speak to me so that I may be more enlightened? Frankly, as of now, I am a nobody. I would merely be an oddly dressed fellow claiming to be from the future.

I'll stop dancing around the answer. If I were allowed to talk to one person in history, I would go back and talk to Abraham Lincoln just minutes before he is killed. No, I would not warn him that he is going to be shot. Thats dumb. I am not out to set history a new way or change the world. I would go back and try to assuage one great man's soul.

The conversation would go something like this

"Mr. Lincoln."
"Someone get this lunatic away from me."
"Mr. Lincoln please listen. I am from the future, and only need a minute of your time."
"The future. I am tired, someone help this man...where did you get those clothes?"
"Mr. Lincoln, you may have your enemies now, you may be sick, and tired but hopeful. I just want you to know. Your efforts were not in vain. You were successful, America is not perfect in my time, but we try. And you my friend, go down as the greatest president in history, with only Washington rivaling you. Your courage, bravery, and determination even at your weakest moments are remembered forever."
*Lincoln gives me a strange but contemplative look*
"Good bye Mr. Lincoln"

Now of course, this all sounds a little too perfect. But of course, were I to go back in history I woudl most defiantly have a speech like this planned. I mean it has to sound good right? Don't want to sound like a stuttering fool in front of Lincoln.

So there you have it. All of the other presidents (most of em) who went through adversity, were rewarded. They lived long enough to see their exploits go down as heroics. Jefferson, Washington, Roosevelt (although he knew he ruled due to his constant reelections), and many others. However, Lincoln, possibly the best of them, knew nothing but tribulation. He had his followers, but he was crucified by the majority of his peers for his entire term, and his life was cut tragically short before he could see his place in history solidified. It is this tragic martyrdom that completes his now legendary life in the only way that it could have ended. For me to be able to go back and maybe, even for a brief instant, validate the mans beliefs my one trip to the past would be totally worth it. Even if he had me dragged off, you know he would not forget the words...

Talk of Lincoln brings me to an interesting conclusion. Our country has been blessed. Every time we enter a period of great unrest, or extreme hardship, many may fail, but one or a group of figures rise to the challenge. America seems to be an improbability. From shambles the country is resurrected on the shoulders of seemingly mythological figures. More interestingly, is that our country is so young the lives of these figures are all chronicled in detail. Unlike King Arthur, or Romulus and Remus the glorious moments in our country are hard fact.

Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Washington, Franklin, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman, Grant, Pershing, MLK, and countless others, they all stepped up to the challenge and succeeded better than any could have hoped.

So, I ask. Who will rise to the challenge now? America has lost its glorious reputation. Its economy lies a shell of what it once was, we are entrenched in an unwinnable war and it seems we reside in the hands of idiots.

Will this good luck streak continue? Will a figure suddenly reveal himself (or herself) and pull America from the ghost it has become? I like to think so. The great thing about America, is that its essence is such that it nurtures, encourages, and empowers these people, these modern Knights. Will the one be Mr. Obama? Mrs. Clinton? Mr. McCain? An unknown activist like this man, fed up with what has happened and in one instant can inspire millions? Keanu Reeves?...You?

Perhaps none of these people will prove the one, and we will be without a savior for many more years. But I think that person is out there. I think we can still be a generation to inspire and enlighten and teach, no matter how far we have strayed from the course.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Matt Damon? A liar?

I enjoy watching the World Series of Poker main event (no limit hold 'em) on TV. Now, I'd never sit down and actually WATCH an 8 hour poker game, however, the Telecast of the event is normally fairly entertaining. They have two announcers who seem to be low budget comedians picked up at a tiny club off some Vegas side street and about 400 camera men who are able to identify enough interesting pots to keep me entertained for as long as ESPN is broadcasting the event.

I would never consider myself a poker 'pro.' I'm alright I suppose. In tournaments among friends I sometimes win, sometimes lose, but normally place in some way (money back!). I'm good enough to play with good players, but bad enough that I generally learn something important every time I play. For the most part my skill comes from being hard to read.

As an aside, it seems to me that the 'poker' face is entirely bullshit. Many people have complimented me on my difficulty to be read, and it comes not from staring straight faced when I'm bluffing and straight faced when I'm winning. Be RANDOM! Unpredictability makes you so unreadable. Regardless of what you have, bounce your eyebrows, blow kisses at the kid your playing, make funny faces, and tell jokes. Then the next hand, regardless of what you have sit stone faced and staring, refusing to speak except in sepulchral tones. Being random not only throws people off, but it prevents the same tells/ticks/minor habits from occurring. Its difficult to put your hand across your mouth then your hands are balled into white fists of rage on the table in front of you for no apparent reason. Check your cards obsessively. If i check my cards 15 times when I'm ahead and 13 times when I'm bluffing who is going to be able to tell a difference. ANd if they ARE bothering to do that, then they are most likely forming wrong ideas in their head. Then again, maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about.

Back to the point, if there is one at all. Ever since Matt Damon's famous pronouncement "Why does it still seem like gambling to you... Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table at the World Series of Poker *every single year*?... Its a skill game." the general consensus amongst anyone who plays is that IT IS a skill game, and for the most part I would agree, however, how MUCH skill is actually involved?

I watch these WSoP games, and the more people that play, the more the skill is evening out, and the luck is showing through. It seems that there may be a sort of skill plateau. Once you become as unreadable as you can be, figure out the odds, and know the strategies behind the game, there isn't that far to go. This has become rapidly obvious as the WSoP, requiring only ten thousand dollars to buy in, has grown exponentially in the last few years.

IMDB even has a qualification on Matt Damon's statement: "In the ten years immediately prior to the filming of the movie, only 12 players made it to the final table two or more times. Of those, only two made it three times and no one made it more than that. Only one of those players ever made it to the final table two years in a row."

When Doyle Brunson won his WSoP Main even bracelet, only 53 people played in the event and hold 'em was not nearly as popular or widely played. He has not won the main event since 1977.

Just over 100 people played in the WSoP Main Events that Johnny Chan won. He is considered to be one of the best players in the world. However, if the announcers are to be believed he has not even been IN THE MONEY (gotten his money back, happens when the field is narrows down to somewhere around 20% of the initial amount) in over five years. He last won the main event in 1989.

The "professionals" say that they hate the small buy in. The ten-thousand dollar buy in draws rich kids and celebrities by the bucketful hoping to have a good time, get a few stories and win some money. They claim this large amount of 'ameteurs' makes it difficult for the "professional" players to win. Does this statement seem ridiculous to anyone else? To be a professional, you must be better than the amateurs, thats how you become a professional. Moreover, most of these 'professionals' are simply poker players who using former private successes were able to bankroll wins against crappy players (as demonstrated in the movie Rounders. Skilled players taking money off just friendly players like it was candy). The 'professionals' have EVEN asked the WSOP to make a more EXPENSIVE tournament to keep 'amateurs' out! Never mind the fact some of the most famous professionals are only well known because they were able to buy in to the main event. Yet

Six thousand people played in this last main event. However, the 'professionals' never have to play 6000 people. They play at tables of ten people at a time. All you have to do is beat ten 'amateurs.' Yet I see so many of the former world champions going down early and easily to these guys on the FIRST table. These guys would not have won if the tournament was ten people in size because these are the only people you are up against. In order to get the final table you must only defeat about thirty people.

If you put 6000 random guys with a high school level of basketball knowledge(what I'm classifying as amateurs) one at a time into a 1v1 basketball game against Kevin garnet or Lebron James, all 6000 people would get beaten. It has nothing to do with how many people they play against, they are simply more skilled. Likewise with nearly any other professional athlete. Tom Brady will ALWAYS throw more TD passes than you. Tiger Woods will beat you in 18 holes, Wayne Gretzky will out skate the shit out of you, and David Ortiz will hit more home runs.

So what am I getting at? Poker is a game of skill, no doubt. However, as we see the field diluted every year with new faces, the peak skill seems to be low and the true luck of the game shines through. The scales seem to be tipping, so much that within the upper echelon of Poker players, the skill is actually less important than the luck. I wouldn't stand a chance in that room of players at the main event (unless of course I landed boats every time), however, I am not at the skill level yet. Were I to play with intensity for a year, I could show up in Vegas and play with those guys. Would I win? Doubtful, but I could play with them.

Well great Jared. You've made a blog post about how you think you could play with the big boys of poker. Grats.

There must be something else to this post. Because that it not what I intended. Poker is one of the great equalizers. In a heads up pot its your cards against your opponents. Your life, background, your race, your age all means nothing. That is what so many of these great poker players have touted over the years. Many of these guys have become superstars because of this game and almost immediatly, it has gone to their heads. Suddenly, stubborn stars are demanding a higher buyin because they don't like being beaten by 'amateurs.'

What separates a poker professional from an amateur? Well, one who makes his living playing poker is a professional. However, these guys make their living for most of the year nabbing money of 'fishes,' i.e. shitty players who thing they can play with good players. The sport is unique in that, if 'professionals' went heads up against each other every night, as all other sports professionals do, they would all be flat broke. So, because professionals make their living by beating these 'amateurs' what exactly separates them? Because if these same amateurs knock the professionals out of the WSoP what is going on? Who decides what a professional player is? How can the best be separated from the worst if the professionals already want to separate themselves.

This elitism saddens me. The great equalizer is rapidly becoming the home of the great sore losers.

What a lame closing statement. However, between watching the WS and writing this, it has rapidly become 3 AM, and I am sick. I'm gonna post this and hopefully fix the grammar and crappy wording tomorrow. I don't fully trust this "save now" button.

Why post about poker when most of you are probably bored of it? Well because it was on my mind. And Hold 'Em to me seems to be a micro chasm of society.

Monday, March 17, 2008

More computer-related astronomy!

So I wrote a few days (or so) back about a new Microsoft software suite designed to give users an interactive view of the universe, an aggregation of a lot of the fantastic imagery gathered by our various orbital and ground-based radio, infrared and optical telescopes.

This is really exciting for me, the fusion of hard science and easy consumption: it seems like a phenomenal way to get people excited about the amazing work NASA and related research institutions are doing with their meager budgets while we blow money on various other (occasionally hostile) endeavors.

Well, it looks like Google has beaten Mr. Gates to the punch: They recently released Google Sky, a relative of their popular and well-engineered Google Earth and Google Maps functions. The interface is a little clunky, and since it is 2-dimensional it doesn't really convey the sense of an all-encompassing universe, but nonetheless there is some spectacular imagery that's worth exploring. Being able to pan around and zoom (in some areas to INCREDIBLE resolution) is a lot of fun.

If it's your first look:
The round objects are (believe it or not) stars. Anything that seems very bright and large and round is a "field star" - one of our close neighbors that takes up a lot of space in a telescope image.
The flat discs and oblongs and pinwheel shapes are galaxies. WHOLE OTHER GALAXIES. Every tiny pinprick of light you can see is a star in our little galaxy. These disc-shaped, sometimes blurry objects are other galaxies with just as many individual stars in them, if not more.
The clouds and blurs are largely nebulae: the cloud of gas and dust that are slowly aggregating by gravity into stars: "stellar nurseries," if you will.

Have a look at some of the images, explore a little, play with the Hubble gallery especially.
I still think that Microsoft's World Wide Telescope will be a superior product, but this one is quick, download-free, and fun to browse. Plus, it's out already, which is a big advantage.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Hey all -
We fixed the comments so that anyone can post them.
Please feel free to join in on the conversation!
-Rob and Jared

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Science of Millions

The ability to communicate is what makes us human. We are separate from other animals in many ways, but at the most fundamental level, the ability to communicate in a complex way is the defining difference. The inability to toss ideas, tell stories, and scheme with others is what prevents squirrels from laying elaborate traps to catch and reap horrible vengeance on automobiles across the country. Our ability to do this has evolved over centuries. At first, it was rudimentary: Me, You, Food, Stick etc. But through centuries grammar and vocabulary increased in complexity until it peaked at around the Roman Empire's Latin and its contemporary languages (Greek, the Asian root of Chinese and Japanese, and probably some ancient Mayan language that I am not well educated on).

It has been my observation, that since then, language has done nothing but move sideways. The different languages have simply branched out on the same plain as these ancient languages, not increasing in complexity so much as increasing in specificity: minute points became amplified and eventually took on a form of their own. This is all similar to the evolution of organisms which is why saying certain things are "more evolved" or humans are the "most evolved" is insane but another topic entirely.

This is a very roundabout way to get to my point. It seems that today(present times), English has been amplified in one specific area: Amplification itself. Hyperbole. Everyone I know hyperbolizes everything (yes, this statement is intentionally hyperbolic, thank you). If I was in an auditorium with ten thousand people or at a party in a small room with fifty people: each place contained exactly one million people when I tell stories about them. The couch my friends and I carried from the car to the house and the person who jumps unexpectedly on my back both weigh approximately ten tons. The commercial I just saw was the WORST commercial in history; as was your idea about where we should eat today. If my Dad, and generally any person over the age of forty, has retain any of the dialect from their generation then this is a recent phenomenon because these people rarely hyperbolize.


Why do we hyperbolize now? One might say it is because everything is getting bigger. Bigger cars, bigger explosions, bigger houses, bigger problems, bigger sports stars (thank you B12). The internet has brought the power of infinity to our fingertips and with it our language must follow: To infinity and beyond says Buzz Lightyear. Infinity is not good enough for children of our generation, we must go beyond. This has nothing to do with the number of people at the party or the actual weight of the couch, it is a subconscious effect of the ever expanding knowledge of our generation.

Logical. No?

I think there might be a different reason. Our dreams have exceeded our ability. Our reach has exceeded our grasp (to illicit an old cliche). Since youth we were told we can be anything; do anything; go anywhere. The internet, movies, TV, our parents, school, they all tell us of the possibilities open too us as long as we try. But as we progress in life we realize that this isn't true. We quickly lose our dreams of becoming a baseball start when we can't throw the ball over homeplate from ten feet away. We slowly let go of the dream of becoming an astronaut when we see that we have a dizzying fear of heights. People who are unable to let go of these dreams are the people we see on shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance: They are forever told they can be whatever they want and so they fruitlessly and pathetically pursue the dream of becoming a singer or a dancer when they have no talent at all. We laugh when we see them, but sometimes I am sad, another dream will become unfulfilled and this person's hidden talent will undoubtedly be wasted.

When we realize our dreams of impossibility are gone, we must make up for them somewhere. And we do this in our storytelling. A million people participated in the party I was at the other day. I was able to carry a ten ton couch for half a football field. I was there when the worst statement ever made was uttered. Any task we will undergo will be the worst, the vacation we go on will be the best, and you went on a date with the hottest girl I have ever seen.

This could be a seen as something terribly sad. We make up for our own inability to become what we want and to do the impossible by pretending. We fool ourselves into thinking the hyperbole is real ( in my imagination the party with 50 people is packed wall to wall), and since memory is all we have, it will become that when anyone who was there to refute your statement is gone.

I like to think of it in a better light though. It makes our stories more potent, their morals more poignant, and it keeps our minds fresh with the idea of the impossible.

And yes: This WAS the longest blog post ever, if thats what you are thinking.

Monday, March 3, 2008


DISCLAIMERS: First, this is not going to be a light and fluffy post. Second, I was sitting on the metro on the way home today trying to form a cogent argument to put up here, and couldn't get one to come together for me. Instead, this is a collection of my own biased observations. Take it at face value.

Now that that's done with, here's the deal. One of my professors told me a story about witnessing racial profiling at a retail store, and it got me thinking. Now for those of you who don't know, I work at a store that sells a lot of "big ticket" items: relatively compact and easily stolen pieces of merchandise that are worth several hundred dollars. As a result, theft is a pretty significant problem for us. The majority of this theft is attributed to kids from the high school right around the block from us. The majority of these kids are black.

That was put pretty bluntly. Am I in trouble yet? Well, I'll work on it.

Now as an employee, one of my responsibilities is to do everything I can to reduce theft in the store. This ranges from the innocuous (clearing out fitting rooms regularly and monitoring what garments go in and out of them) to the more suspect (keeping a weather eye on whoever my managers or I deem a "significant threat").

There's the landmine. A significant threat? What's that? How can you tell?

Now here's where I'm supposed to say that it's random, or race-blind, or what have you. But the simple fact is that when an elderly couple walks in and politely asks where the hats are, I'm not going to dog their footsteps. When a group of 13-15 year old kids bursts through the doors whooping and hollering, and goes straight to the expensive stuff, yeah, I'm going to follow them.

So I'm discriminating at this point. What criteria am I using, and are they fair? First there's age. Kids and young adults are our biggest problem for petty theft. Then there's the issue of perceived buying power. Do I really think a 14 year old is going to drop $300 on a ski jacket without a parent present?

Even without broaching the sensitive issue of race, it's clear that I, like any retailer, am making unfair snap decisions that impact how I treat you as a customer. Just like that airport security agent who pulls the gentleman in the turban out of the line for closer inspection.

This brings me to my second point. We judge people. Quickly. Brutally. It's what we do as a society, if not as a species. Getting to know someone well enough that you can make an informed decision is time consuming and hard, and sometimes we just can't or won't do it. Deal with it. You do it, I do it. We all do.

This is not a blank check for racial, age, class or gender discrimination. What I'm trying to say is put yourself in my shoes. This is my job, not my Race & Gender Equality class at school. My prime directive in this case is to prevent theft, so I try to do it. Is it fair? No. Is it discrimination? Probably. I like to think that I pay more attention to other factors and ignore race, but even if that's true, I am making generalizations, putting people into boxes.

There's another point here, one that I can't quite grasp. We also put the career people in our lives into boxes of their own. By career people I mean the folks we encounter when WE are in "private" mode and THEY are "on the job". Retailers. Plumbers. Waiters. Police officers. And so forth. Before we do, we should try to remember that they are at work, trying their best to do their job. We have to imagine what if WE were at work at the time, and how that would impact our decisions. For example, we slam the police officer for writing a bunch of possibly erroneous tickets, for pursuing a "quota". That's not justice! But imagine you are that cop, in your quarterly review, and your supervisor says "Well, your ticketing is 1/2 the district average. What the heck are you doing while you're on the clock?" How well is the answer "well, no one did anything REALLY serious so I let 'em slide" going to fly?

Like I said in the beginning, this is wandering towards some underlying point that I can't quite grasp yet. I'm curious to hear any of your comments on it.

Edit - My professor's comments on this are worth looking at.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Our gaze fills the universe

Proof that this blog, like life, is "not just about one thing", will follow.

I love the night sky. I have for a long time. Perhaps my first great experience with the heavens, ironically enough, occurred alongside my best friend and blogging partner Jared, many years ago. We went with Jared's dad out into the street near his house and examined some celestial objects, including a comet that was in the neighborhood.

That said, I saw something neat during the course of my daily rummaging through the internet. Microsoft has developed a free software suite called World Wide Telescope that will offer an interactive horizon-to-horizon view of the universe, patched together from imagery from the planet's greatest telescopes. This software looks similar to Google's fantastic Google Earth suite in that it is a free and easily navigable way to look around at accumulated data.

Keep an eye on the WWT's website (linked below), the software launches sometime this Spring. And keep looking up!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pepsi Presents Wrigley Field?

So, I was reading one of my favorite sources of news and information (Jared's away message) when I stumbled across this link. Now, the gist of it is simple... the Chicago Cubs' ownership is thinking about selling. It's been known for a while that the team would go, but one thing has remained uncertain... would naming rights for Wrigley Field, one of the most historic and beautiful first-generation ballparks in the nation, be part of the deal?

It looks like the almighty dollar wins again.

Now, are we overreacting by getting upset about this? Possibly. But in a sport that hearkens back to some form of simplicity, where the uniforms are still not profaned by hideous ads (I'm looking your way, "soccer"...), there's no clock, and we don't make 'em play if the weather gets nasty, it's sad to see creeping corporatism. I had the good fortune of catching a game at Wrigley a few years ago, now that my sister lives just around the corner. Let me tell you, as a Fenway fan to the end, Wrigley is a beautiful, intimate, unique park. Will it lose all that charm if it picks up a corporate logo on that distinctive front sign? Probably not. But still, it's a change, and baseball hates change.

...on the other hand, this could be a massive opportunity/win-win situation for Wrigley Chewing Gum...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


In my first post I promised to borrow (outright steal) an idea from Bill Simmons and provide some weekly links for you. Being a rather proficient browser of the internet, and the friend of many an internet scouter, I come across many websites per week. Most of these websites suck, but some of them are worth a look!

The links I plan on giving you each week will be about anything so be prepared! If next to the link there is a giant NSFW (Not Safe For Work), it means do not open this link if you are in a place that frowns upon swearing/nudity etc. Don't worry, I'm not linking you any pornography ;) so most likely all NSFW tags will simply mean foul language (potty mouth).

How to Write a Hit song

A funny video with an explanation at the beginning. Essentially, a blogger asked a bunch of readers to send him phrases that don't sound quite right (ex. 'Frog in her ear') and he would put them to music and make a hit song. Came out pretty well if in my opinion.

Phases of the Luna Eclipse
A great shot of last weeks total lunar eclipse.

Air Powered Cars
From Popular Mechanics, a cool article on the possibility of Air compression as an alternative power source. The Front page of the NY times reports that the country should expect Gas prices of over 4$ a gallon so any ideas are good ideas.

Contacts of the Future
We currently live in the future. If you didn't realize this, you have not been paying attention. This is an article about the beginings of personal electronic visuals. I.e. you put on contacts which allow you to see information overlaying your normal view (Terminator Style). Obviously they are a long way from becoming available but a look into what some of the worlds best engineers are doing with their time is rather interesting.

5) (NSFW Maybe...)
You suck at photoshop
If you like sarcasm, you will like this video. A youtube clip of a guy 'teaching' photoshop. Actually part of a series which can be accessed in the related videos column on the side.

Half of Briton's claim no religion
Snagged from Digg. Goes to show how even countries we consider to be similar to ours have VERY different people. The majority of Americans believe evolution is a lie, half of the UK thinks God might be a lie. Although I am speaking in generalizations, not having a religion does not mean you don't believe in God.

Seed Banks Open!
This is a heartening link. I read an article about these vaults recently, and the first one is finally open! Essentially there will be several of these (maybe a dozen?) deep frozen vaults erected all over the world which will house preserved seeds from all varieties of crops. The vaults are being placed in out of the way places where they will be unlikely to be damaged should anything bad happen to the rest of the world (read: nuclear war). Kind of funny that we have to have a protection against ourselves.

Thats it for this week! Hopefully you'll enjoy them as I did. I should be back with a bigger post sometime in the next few days.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More pitching!

Great news in the Red Sox Nation today: the Sox have reached a minor league agreement with 35 year old right handed (former) flamethrower Bartolo Colon. This is an example of how this front office has been putting the Sox in a position to play great baseball: having the courage to go after big contracts and make controversial deals, but not making the rookie (read: Yankee) mistake of doing this at the expense of bargain players and prospects.

Colon is being characterized as "high reward, low risk," and that sums it up nicely. At best, we get a pretty steady rotation guy who throws a lot of innings. At worst, we are out a million bucks or so. I'm eager to see how he shapes up in spring training. When he was throwing well (2002-2003) he had a pretty well spotted fastball and a decent little sinker. Let's keep an eye on him, shall we?

Saturday, February 23, 2008


First of all, what he said.

Secondly, you may be curious about the nature of this particular blog. "Jack of all blogs?" you may be saying to yourself, "what the dickens does that mean, precisely?"

Well the answer to that is simple, and can be found in the description that Jared schemed up for this internet idea-pile: "Because life isn't just about one thing." This is a blog about baseball (namely the feared and beloved Boston Red Sox) but it is also a blog about the preponderance of various colors and styles of packaged cheeses. Sure, I may post about presidential politics, but Jared might come right back with something about recombinant DNA (That's a Science term).

Speaking of Science - (capital "S" Science, of course) : You may notice that I speak frequently and adoringly of this subject. Do not confuse this enthusiasm with any knowledge. Basically I love Science because it provides me with incredible inventions and concepts, and anyone who doesn't is probably not very interesting.

Anyways, thanks for stopping by. Go ahead, bookmark us. Check back in a little while. Who knows what will have turned up by then.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Welcome to the Blog

After walking the long and short of the internet, searching its various nooks and crannies and generally taking in the sites (pun intended) I said to myself, "Jared, you gotta be a part of this internet thing." Well, after a few failed ventures I decided that it was time to start a blog and express my thoughts on the world to all those wandering intellectuals and bored college students looking for an opinion to agree or disagree with. A few clicks of a mouse later and here I am, following the American dream: starting small but looking to the stars...

At least, that is how I wish the story went. Frankly, I think Rob was just tired of me filling our AIM windows with lines and lines of text about things he may or may not have cared about, but didn't feel like dealing with at 2:15 in the morning. Being the experienced Web browser that he is, he suggested we create a blog on this surprisingly simple website. A few days of name debates later --- and if this is the effort it takes to create a name for an internet blog, I immediately feel sorry for all parents who have to agonize over the names of their children. Granted, in life, repeats are allowed-- we pulled this website out of our hats.

Here is the part where I should put a description of myself, however, I have a feeling that all those who are reading this first post are personal friends of mine who felt pity for the poor Away Message advertising I will end up doing, and all those who read this blog in the future ( hopefully there will be many!) probably won't troll back this far. But if you must know: I am currently a Senior in College, graduating this May, I hail from a small (fairly large) town near the Heart (Hart) of these United States called Glastonbury (G-Burg, Gbury, Gburbs, G-town, etc). People might describe me, if they are being nice, as witty, funny, happy, good natured, easy going, and smart. If they are being mean they might say I'm argumentative, occasionally negative, lazy, easily distracted and arrogant. There is truth in all of these descriptions, and lacking any one of these would yield a different person. I am an avid reader of books, a watcher of films, a viewer of TV, player of Video games, a sports buff, and a science nerd. You bring up a topic to me and I will most defiantly have an opinion on it.

This is getting quite long for an introductory post (pretty arbitrary statement, I have no idea how long intro posts should be), so I'll cut to the chase:

What should you expect from this blog!

I plan to have one major post a week, with a few minor ones interspersed throughout. The major post will probably be filled with ramblings, arguments, opinions and random ideas. The smaller posts will probably include a Sports section(mainly about football, baseball, and odd sports), book, movie and video game reviews, and bios on cool people/events . I am also planning on taking a leaf out of the Book of Bill Simmons, a writer for and ESPN the magazine and having a post of weekly LINKS! These will probably be assorted links from around the internet that I have gathered and think are worth sharing, they will probably cover a wide variety of websites and topics.

Other than that, this being my first blog (other than live journal), I'll just have to call 'em as I see 'em. If the most this blog accomplishes is to cure you of your boredom for a few minutes, then I'll see it as a success, but hopefully, both you and I can get something more out of it.

In closing, welcome my friends. Come in. Its a crazy world out there. Sit with me around the warm glow of the screen, and take some shelter from the storm.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

hi jared