Friday, September 04, 2015

Secular, Post-Modern Self Destruction

Going in a Marxist direction, we've decided that history is moving inexorably towards socially liberal democracy. With this in mind, we helped topple the governments of Libya and Egypt and have sat by idle while Syria and Iraq have collapsed. To intervene with the necessary large numbers of infantry would be so very 19th Century, you know.

We did away with being judgmental so we no longer see wealth and income as markers of behavior. Instead, they're symbols of inequality and we spend lots more than we earn working hard to make outcomes more equal. We borrowed in pursuit of this, so we're now all heavily in debt with most post-modern nations running about 100% of GDP in national government debt.

War is no longer necessary as we've decided that we can coerce other nations into doing our bidding through economic sanctions, so, other than the US, the post-modern west is completely disarmed.

Babies are a choice, pregnancy something to be avoided, sex is beautiful in all its forms and marriage a relic of a bygone age. The post-modern West now has minuscule birth rates and declining populations.

And finally ...

National borders were deemed oppressive and judgmental, so we did away with those in all but the most theoretical sense. We've now got unfettered migration from war-torn and impoverished hell holes into our enlightened, post-modern nations.

And the result is ...

Hundreds of thousands of refugees from places with no cultural similarity to the post-modern West are rushing through undefended borders to populate lands that the West is evacuating through attrition. They are adding financial commitments to countries who can't pay the ones they have right now. Those same nations are currently dealing with the first fiscal domino, Greece, who is both bankrupt and insolvent.

Something tells me that the secular, progressive, post-modern West hasn't much longer to go.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Your Home Is Your Biggest Investment

... and if you're in Japan*, that's not working out so well for you. Dig what's been going on with property values over the last 30 years in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Here's the article on Tokyo's growing inventory of abandoned homes that led me to search for this chart.

If my home's value was declining with no end in sight, I'd be pretty cautious about spending money, too. It wouldn't necessarily be a rational thought, it would be more resigned, inchoate despair.

* - Or, I'm sure, Germany, Greece, Russia, Spain, Italy... heck, anywhere they've decided that babies are an impediment to consuming more weed and porn.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Thermocline Adventure Vacation

The perfect temperature, as innumerable scientific studies have established*, is 65 degrees. What if you decided to take a vacation where it was always 65 degrees outside?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Thermocline Adventure Vacation, Interstate 5 Version.

Last year, I wrote a simple PHP script to scrape a NOAA web page and extract percent-of-normal rainfall data for various California cities. I created a database to store the information and figured out how to chart it. The result, for San Diego, was this.

This year, I'm going to create a table of cities along Interstate 5 from the Mexican border to Canada and use their zip codes to scrape hourly temperature data from the Wunderground weather site. From there, I'll pick the southernmost location (I'm a SoCal boy, after all) whose temperature is 65 degrees for each hour of the day and then plot those locations on a Google map. As an added bonus, I'll include the speed at which you'd have to drive to get from one destination to the next.

The vacation would be designed for nerdy, unmarried guys with no social life, the types who prefer clipboards and charts to girls. You could feel free to modify it if you wish and perhaps choose to visit a series of nightclubs or beer breweries at each location instead. My participants will be listening to science podcasts and discussing color-change mechanisms of Octopus cyanea.

Or something like that.

In any case, the only difficulty I've found in getting started is that it looks like I"ll need to create the table of locations along I-5 by hand. I'm still scouring the web for a ready-made table, but I haven't had much luck with Google. God help me, but my next stop is the Department of Transportation website to see if they've got anything. Blech.

Anyway, onwards and upwards! Or, onwards and downwards if that's where the thermocline leads us.

* - Actually, I can't point to one. Still, the science is settled and if you disagree, I'll just scream at you that you are a denier over and over until you give up and go away.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Juvenile Fence Lizard

... found (where else?) on a fence! Dig the size of the guy relative to the screw heads on the hinge in the photos below.

I left the images fairly large, so they may be worth a click. More details on fence lizards can be found here.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Your Sins Aren't Original Enough To Make Google A Threat

Let's assume that the paranoids are right and Google is tracking everything you do on the Internet and they know all of the illicit and embarrassing sites you visit. Don't sweat it. As Matthew Kelly says, you're not that original. If they started using that data to blackmail or coerce people, they'd immediately devalue the information until it's gradually worthless by the sheer number of people all committing the same sins. By the time there are 150,000 people who've been caught visiting sports gambling sites at work, #150,001 is going to shrug his shoulders and go back to whatever it was he was doing.

Google is a threat? Meh. Your conscience pangs comes from inside, not from some Internet voyeur.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Caterpillars In Need Of Tums

These two might regret eating our jalapeƱos. One of them got down to the seeds. Ouch!