I’m going to make some slow cooked, 10 hour black bean soup today, so wish me luck. Today’s links:
- I’m all for hearing both sides of an argument and hear is an argument from law enforcement arguing that strong encryption is dangerous: NY Times Editorial. Here is why they are wrong: 1) Tech companies are offering encryption because they’re customers have demanded it AFTER our government behaved badly, 2) You can’t regulate or ban math and encryption is simply math, 3) Law enforcement seems to think they should have access to anything new that comes along. Or put another way, their authority and/or access always grows, but never shrinks. If we invent a device that can record our thoughts (think mental diary), should they have access to that too? No law enforcement person ever stands up to argue for less access. 4) Any backdoor into encryption makes the entire system weaker by definition and allows bad actors like repressive regimes or pissed of spouses to have a chance to go where they shouldn’t be able to go. For more on this, read this excellent piece: The rise of the new Crypto War.
- I’m a believer is business and have no problem with big businesses. In fact, one of the biggest in the world and largest in terms of worth (Apple) is one of my favorites. However it is stories like this that give you pause. DuPont and the Chemistry of Deception. My question is this: not one person involved, and it seems like there were many, had a conscious and chose to blow this whistle? This potentially effected the healths of thousands of people and there wasn’t one person?
- This human interest piece includes references to math and UCLA, so you know I’m going to be interested. The Singular Mind of Terry Tao. If you enjoy stories about geniuses (that word gets thrown around a lot, but Terry Tao is a rare talent), you’ll enjoy this.
- Having grown up in an airline family, this story interested me greatly. When I was a kid and flying for free, you could make a flight 80+% of the time because planes weren’t as full then as they are today. Well clearly things have changed. More Than a Million People Are Getting Free Flights—and They Hate It.
- As someone who got married young by today’s standards, I find studies like this interesting. Bad News: Waiting Too Long to Get Married May Increase Your Risk of Divorce.
- This is for Seinfeld fans, like me. For a Show About Nothing, Seinfeld Changed a Lot Over Its Nine-Year Run.
- To say getting our education system right is important is an understatement. Educating children relies tremendously on good teachers and there are good teachers and bad teachers. How do you measure them? It turns out that this has always been a difficult question to answer. We’ve always tried to do this with data and numbers rather than by subjective evaluation, but teachers and their unions have always resisted this. This is a fairly balanced article talking about research into measuring teachers. The Science Of Grading Teachers Gets High Marks.
- I’m a big proponent of legalizing drugs because 1) people should be able to do whatever they want with their own bodies as long as it doesn’t harm others, 2) prohibition never works (for evidence of this, research anything that has ever been prohibited) and 3) we end up incarcerating way too many people for non-violent drug crimes which results in ruining their lives and costing tax payers an exorbitant sum. After one year of legalized marijuana, the state of Washington has released their tax revenues from its sale. Washington state gets $65 million in first-year taxes from marijuana.
- I know first hand the irrational cost of higher education in this country having gone through college and graduate school myself and now having a son in his senior year of a private four year college. This is a separate topic, but this is clearly one instance where it would be better to live in Europe. One of the biggest problems facing graduates and their parents is the soaring cost of school and the resulting debt. And it is bad even if you got to a great, reputable school. It is a tragedy when the school doesn’t improve your job prospects like what happens at a lot of for profit schools. And it should be no surprise that these for profit schools end up on a list of schools that contribute the most to total student debt. These 20 schools are responsible for a fifth of all graduate school debt. Now there are some really good schools on this list, but there are also all the schools that are part of the education industrial complex. And then there is USC which is neither for profit, nor a good school
- Want to learn more about the dark web (like Silk Road) and the inefficiency of allowing pharmaceutical companies to charge different prices to different countries? Great, you’ll love this piece: Why I Had to Buy My Wife’s Inhaler on the Dark Web.
Song of the week: Born under a Bad Sign performed by Gary Clark Jr and John Maher. This is from the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony when they inducted Albert King. A classic blues song with ridiculous guitars.
Next, I already mentioned my Apple gear earlier. I’m using my Apple Watch and I’m taking the time to calibrate it correctly. It is nice to have heart rate, calories burned, distance covered, elapsed time and more on my wrist while I’m running. The iPhone is great because it has GPS, Music and can run apps that work a lot better than just using the Apple Watch apps. The only thing I don’t like about running with an iPhone is it swinging back in forth in my pocket, so I also got a cheap arm band.
Finally, I’ve invested in a pair of Jabra Sport Pulse headphones. They’re supposed to be one of the best fitting headphones on the market, which is great, but I bought them because they are purpose built for fitness. They’re bluetooth, so no wires need to be connected to the phone. I hate running with wired headphones because it seems like at least twice during every running session I tug on the wires accidentally and the headphone comes out. Bluetooth also means I can connect them to my watch. Next, they have a pulse oximeter built in, so it gives me another heart rate monitor.
Jabra Sport. This app has a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to putting it through the paces. It has also the basics you would expect in a running app in that it will track your heart rate, distance, calories, route (via GPS), etc. But it also has a few other functions which are great. The first one that I’ve been playing with is a heart rate zoning training program. It pulls your heart rate off the headphones and then gives you spoken instructions like, “speed up (or slow down) to reach your target zone.” This should make it a lot easier to reach your goals. It also has other great functions like Target Pace, Interval Training (where you can program your own intervals) and Cross-Training. The last one is very cool. You can program it to walk you through a gym session, like 3 reps of 10 pushups, 3 reps of 10 sit-ups, and it will tell you (via spoken prompts in your headphones) what your next exercise is and what to do. Very handy. I’m going to do a more in depth review of this once I’ve used it more.
Apple Workout & Activity Tracker. These are built in and unlike running or fitness apps, they monitor my movement all day long, which is very useful. They visualize that data in three circles, move (calories), Excersise (time spent moving) and Stand (you’re supposed to stand for at least 1 minute in 12 different hours during the day). When you have a health monitor on during all your waking hours and that monitor has a heart rate monitor, you learn a lot of interesting things. More on that in another post.
Strava. I used Strava before and it is very good, so I may give it a go again, although due to the tight pairing with the headphones, I’m more interested in using the Jabra Sport app.
- Is It Better to Walk or Run?
- The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life
- Walk Hard. Walk Easy. Repeat.
- 60% to 70%: recovery or fat burning zone
- 70% to 80%: aerobic zone, i.e. increase your heart’s ability to transport and utilize oxygen
- 80% to 90%: anaerobic zone, i.e. work on your body’s ability to deal with lactic acid. This is good for people interested in running really long distances or increasing their speed.
- 90% to 100%: speciality zone for elite athletes
- Lower zone: (124 * 70%) + 52 = 138.8
- Upper zone: (124 * 80%) + 52 = 151.2
I haven’t posted links in a couple of weeks, so I have more than a few articles for you.
- Clean coal was always more of a marketing slogan than any sort of reality. Here’s proof. Billions over budget. Two years after deadline. What’s gone wrong for the ‘clean coal’ project that’s supposed to save an industry?
- I feel like the dating sites are right up there with beer companies for how often they advertise. That’s probably because beer and relationships go together. I found this article on the business of match making interesting. The Dating Business: Love on the Rocks.
- By population Estonia is only bigger than a handful of US states. How did Estonia become a leader in technology?
- Mt. Gox was the largest Bitcoin exchange. In other words, more people used it to store bitcoins and exchange bitcoins for actual currency than any other exchange. And it imploded very quickly. Maybe too quickly. How Mt. Gox Imploded.
- Not quite the roadside executions I’m in favor of, but this is a start. Pay Up, Slowpokes: More States Fine Drivers Who Dawdle in the Left Lane.
- Michael Crichton was always a favorite author of mine. He’s back in the news with a new Jurassic Park movie opening up again. I enjoyed this article chronicalling his rise. His Jurassic World: Author Michael Crichton’s Entertainment Odyssey and Lasting Cultural Impact.
- Because I work in tech and I favor meritocracies, I’m generally in favor of opening up our borders especially for high skill workers. However, this seems like an abuse. Pink Slips at Disney. But First, Training Foreign Replacements.
- Stupid lawsuits are always funny. Angry lawyer-inventor reads “Stupid Patent of the Month,” files first lawsuit vs. EFF.
- Ever wonder why there are so many stupid people online. Some are paid to be there and to be stupid. And some of these paid users are paid by foreign governments. Here’s an example of one. The Agency.
Pew does an annual survey of how people from one country view the government from other countries. The US is incredibly partisan and you’ll often here some people say they don’t care what others think of the US, but I do care. And I find it fascinating, especially the changes over time. Pew has research back to 2000. First the results:
Interestingly, the Philippines is the country that views us the most favorably, with 92% of respondents having a favorable view of the US. Other strong scores come from Italy, South Korea and Ghana. Russia and predominantly Muslim countries have a much lower opinion. Go figure.
For me, the first big result is that the world does not agree with our use of torture after 9/11. I agree with this completely. It tarnishes our image overseas, we lose the moral high ground and worst of all, it doesn’t work. In fact, only four countries polled had over 50% of the people surveyed agree that the methods were justified: the US, Israel, India and Uganda. Not exactly a quorum. This is despite the fact that the world overwhelming supports our role in dealing with ISIS. So they’re clearly not against our policies in the Middle East, but rather some of our more deplorable tactics.
The next result is comparing Bush to Obama. I know this will get some people fired up, but it needs to be pointed out. Of all the countries polled that have sufficient data going back to 2000 or 2001, our favorability rating dropped under Bush in all measured countries except for Russia and South Korea. Under Obama, our favorability rating has improved in every country except for Russia, Jordan and Lebanon.
There’s also some great info on the world’s view of China and Asia. Definitely worth a read, if for no other reason to understand how our policies abroad effect the perception of the United States.
Katie and Denton
For the past year I’ve been flying a lot between San Jose, CA and Providence, RI. Both of these things have a couple things in common in that they’re both important cities (one is the 10th largest in the US and the other is a state capital) and they both have medium sized airports. To the best of my knowledge, there are no direct flights between the two, which leaves me two choices:
- Go to bigger neighboring airports like SFO and Logan and take those non-stop, or
- Use the San Jose and and Providence airports, but make at least one connection.
When I first started I chose option number one, but for the last ten months or so I’ve exclusively chosen option number two. My rationale for this is simple:
- Once you add in travel time to and from the bigger airports (SFO and Logan), you add about an hour of drive and/or train time to the total transit time. This is an hour on each side of the flight, which adds two hours to my total transit time.
- If I can find a one stop connection that is less than about 1.5 hours at the connecting airport, I actually spend less time in transit.
- The smaller airports are just WAY, WAY easier to deal with. There is less traffic getting in, shorter walks in the airport, shorter lines for food, etc. Just about everything is better at these airports.
Today, fivethirtyeight released a new post that supports this idea even further. Basically in addition to all the other crap you have to deal with a larger airports, the flight delays are much bigger there than smaller airports. It seems as if there are three major factors that go into whether your flight will be on time: the airline you choose, the typical weather at your chosen airport and how much flight traffic that airport gets, but worse weather effects larger airports more.
So my strategy is simply this:
- Fly into smaller airports whenever possible, even if that means needing a connecting flight
- Fly a good airline. Lately I’ve been taking Delta and it has been great. The fivethirtyeight article seems to indicate this has been a good choice.
- Avoid bad airlines.
And yes, those two examples are over 5 years old, but I will never forget and I will use every opportunity to bring them up again.