Thursday, June 12, 2014

reddit, the poorly organized and nearly unsearchable appendix of The Internet...but Yeah me!


Ah, reddit, you allusive self-proclaimed front page of the Internet.  Instead, I would prolly characterize reddit as the Internet's poorly organized and nearly unsearchable appendix.  However, there is something addictive about its format and engagement.  You may have the intent to only check reddit out for 5 minutes, but that 5 minutes can easily turn to 2 hours.  I enjoy redditting from time to time.  Not often enough to really know how to game the system for karma, but often enough.

The other day, I finally was able to do something amazing.  A link that I posted actually made it to the "front page" and even the top spot of a major subreddit called /r/funny.  I also made it all the way up to page two of the reddit home page with default categories.  If you don't know what that means, don't worry about it.  It's just something that is hard to do on reddit.  The Holy Grail is to actually make it to the "front page" of reddit's home page with default categories.  I missed that mark ever so slightly.  Oh well.  What does this matter?  Well, you know, Internet points!  Anyway, I'm just here chronicling this achievement in my journal.


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Monday, June 09, 2014

Article 1 section 2 paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution and why you aren't being represented!

Here's what a source says about our House of Representatives, "In the original constitutional debates there were pro-federalist delegates proposing that a House member could represent up to 50,000 constituents, while more anti-federalist framers sought one House member up to 20,000 citizens.  The debate, therefore, was over the people wanting smaller Congressional Districts and not larger. In September 1787, they settled on the language, "The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000," thus limiting a Congressional District minimum size to 30,000 citizens. No Congressional District maximum size was included because the framers believed both the members of Congress and their constituents would inherently want Congressional Districts as small as the constitution would permit."1

Another source states, "The Constitution says that the total number of representatives shall not be greater than one for every 30,000 citizens. During the ratification debates over the Constitution, opponents argued that such a ratio was inadequate to properly represent the country. But even using the original ratio in the Constitution, the House of Representatives would have consisted of about 9,400 members after the 2000 census. Faced with the ever increasing size of the House, Congress voted in 1929 to limit the number of representatives to 435."2

Needless to say, our current Congress has not been keeping the size of Congressional Districts in-line with the intent of our Constitution's framers.  Today, Congressional Districts have 710,767 citizens.  This is way over the original expectations of roughly 50,000.

Can you imagine a House of Representatives with 9400 members?  How would business get done?  Well, maybe that's the point.  There would be so many representatives, that votes would have to be made based on what the person feels is right for their 30,000 voters, rather than how much money they can collect from lobbyist for their next campaign. 9400 Representatives would make it a lot harder for lobbyist to sway the will of our elected officials.  It would make pork barrel projects almost nonexistent because districts would be too small to gather enough support for the most silly of funding requests.  It's a lot harder to buy off 9400 people than it is 435.  Particularly if each of those 9400 people have to go back to talk directly to just 30,000 people several times a year.  Representatives' support would really have to come from the local grassroots level.  They might even vote per their constituents desires!  Imagine that!

The one problem with a number of Representatives being so large is that bill introduction may become a bit unmanageable. If we keep to the current system of making huge bills with tons and tons of legal code, things would be unmanageable.  However, that doesn't necessarily need to be a roadblock. Maybe we shouldn't keep the current system of bill introduction!  Maybe our Representatives should really just submit succinct laws that apply to very specific things.  We would still need a huge bill from time to time to address social and other national issues, and the national budget, but we would pretty much end riders that plague the current system.  We can even use 21st Century technology to make such bills easier to process.  (Anyone hear of this Wonder called The Internet?)

More meaningful and useful laws might actually get passed because they wouldn't be tied up so frequently in political maneuverings.  Political Parties couldn't hold our government hostage with standoffs, because their members would be so easily replaced.  We would actually be able to hold our Representatives accountable!






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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Kelowna, BC


Due to a quirk in my planning, I found myself in Kelowna, BC for a couple of days.  Kelowna is in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia on the shores of the Okanagan Lake.  When planning my trip, I had no idea that this is the place from where the stories of the Ogopogo lake monster originate.

A great place to watch the lake for signs of the beast is at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, dinning outside on the deck of the Sunset Organic Bistro.  I wasn't able to spot any lake monsters, but my waitress said with a sly grin that she did indeed have some recently recorded video of something in the water.

View from the deck of the restaurant

It's called the Summerhill Pyramid Winery for a reason.  The wine is made is under this pyramid.

I only discovered that wineries are thing in this region after I arrived.  Had I known ahead of time, I might have planned accordingly.  Another winery I briefly visited was Volcanic Hills Estate Winery.  For tasting, they only offered a few whites and unimpressive blended reds this early in the season.  Had I planned on coming to Volcanic Hills ahead of time for the purpose of wine tasting, I would've been disappointed.

Kelowna has a relatively active downtown area with several restaurants and bars for the diners and revelers alike.  It was here that I finally spotted the lake monster.

This guy was posing for photos all day.

 Wandering around downtown, I ran into this Futurama-esque robot looking machine, who appeared to be a silent sentry guarding a bygone time.


"Halt!  You may go here, but no farther!"

There is a rather nice resort here too.


To commemorate the trip, I got this T-shirt that is all kinds of awesome!


Here's the town and lake from the nearby Knox Mountain.






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Saturday, May 31, 2014

When did the Fastlane on Highways start to be called the Passing Lane?

When did the fastlane on highways start to be called a passing lane? From what I seen, a few years ago there was was a big nationwide push to change the concept of our highways and freeways; from fastlane/slowlane to the idea of a weaving-between-lanes-to-keep-a-constant-speed. Constant weaving between lanes not only is more dangerous, it actually slows down traffic. Every time there is a lane change, there is potential to slow down traffic behind the change. Also, forcing more traffic into fewer lanes inherently increases traffic back-up and congestion. What is this passing lane concept trying to solve? It's not solving the problem of traffic congestion. It appears to be making things worse.

 The problem is that highways in US weren't designed with passing lane concept in mind. Passing lane concept makes little sense in the context of driving on a highway or freeway within most larger cities with current infrastructure. If law enforcement and lawmakers want to create new driving rules that change our driving habits this drastically, they need to fund changes to road system to support those new rules. This would in line with HOV lanes, where current lanes are not converted HOV, but rather the highway is expanded to add a new lane for HOV.

 The US actually does have some designed to be passing lanes. These are usually found when going up long or particularly steep hills. It usually involves a lane being added to the right side, rather than the left side of the road. This makes the most sense in the US. Slower traffic is supposed to move over to the right! That is how our road system was designed.

 A slower driver who refuses to move over to the right is the problem, not everyone else trying to drive safely at a constant speed! How about instead of trying to magically change US driving habits in a way that just isn't supported by our infrastructure, let's enforce the rule that slower traffic move to the right!

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Want to keep the Internet neutral? We can take meaningful action

Here is how: Want to keep the internet neutral? Feel like you can do nothing to help? JustAnotherGraySuit gives meaningful advice with links to stop the FCC proposed regulation that us regular folks can follow.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Over-notification

To the driver that turns on their turn blinker 1/2mi before their turn, with multiple possible turns: way to over-notify everyone!

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Epic mashup - Civilization will never be the same again

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sensless Sunday: Mammoth Star

  1. The last pyramids in Egypt where finished before the last of the Woolly Mammoths died out.1 2
  2. The World as we know it was designated to end by a Viking myth on 2/22/20143 and by a modern economist on 3/4/2014.4 The quote from War Games rings through my head right now about "We're still here! We're STILL HERE!".
  3. Our Solar System is traveling at an average speed of 514,000 mph relative to the Milky Way galactic center.5

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Saturday, March 08, 2014

Everyone's got different tastes, but soy milk? Yuk!

Silk brand has had an advertizing campaign for a little while now where they blatantly state that Silk Soy Milk tastes better than real milk.  They initially even quoted some bizarre statistic like 4 out of 5 people say their product tasted better.  Really?  4 out of 5 people who try soy milk like it better than milk?  I won't argue that soy milk has its fans, but 80% of the population?  Umm, no.  Maybe if they compared vanilla flavored soy milk with bland shim milk?  No, not even then for me.  I'd rather drink water.

I've heard additional caveats added to this claim, like a reference to it tasting better on cereal.  Again, no.  If you want to ruin a perfectly good bowl of cereal, by all means dump some soy milk on it.  Yuk. Yuk.  Blagghh!

I have found that the vanilla flavored soy milk does taste better than regular soy milk, but the texture varies so much between brands, it doesn't make a good substitute for milk, and most brands still do not present an enjoyable experience when drinking straight from the glass.  Even as chocolate flavored, I just don't enjoy the drinking soy milk.

Almond milk is better than soy milk.  Almond milk is drinkable.  I've found that Almond milk actually works well with hot cereal both for consistency and taste.  It's OK with cold cereal, but not as good as milk.  It is good enough to be a backup in the fridge.  This is because it generally lasts longer than milk when unopened.  My advice is to buy milk and almond milk at the same time, and keep the almond milk closed until the milk is gone.  It can extend the length of time that you need to return to the grocery store (assuming that milk is your deciding item in such matters).

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

epinions.com is soon to end as we know it

I wrote a highly critical article about epinions.com in September 2013 where I stated they have made themselves irrelevant in 2013.  epinions.com used to be a great site where anyone could go to get high quality and unbiased user reviews of just about any type of product.  It wasn't polluted with shills and ads.  

Then, it did started getting polluted with ads. Soon, it became hard to tell links to ads from genuine content.  Then, it became hard to find genuine content at all.  Ads ruled.  (Though, shills never really seemed to be able to take hold.)

Even still, I used epinions.com frequently enough until 2012.  Thru no conscious action, I just stopped using the site.  Eventually, I realized this and wrote my critical review as to why.

Well, today, epinions has announced they will be ending its community and reviews system.  This is no surprize to me.  They lost their way, and eventually people just stopped using the site.  The site fell into the trap of trying to sell ads to generate funding rather than offering a superior product that people flock to.  Their focus became monetization without understanding how to generate income from their product without losing its soul.

Their email to members stated,
After a challenging 2013, Epinions will no longer maintain community related operations of its website. We are proud that we were able to serve as a facilitator of shared experiences and thoughtful dialogue over the past 15 years. However, several obstacles, such as declining participation, have deeply affected our business and forced us to make this difficult decision. 
Yeah, 2013 is when I stopped using the site, so this makes perfect sense.  The site stopped being a repository for high quality reviews, and just became a poor quality online mall.

Community submissions ended today.  Reviews can no longer be added.  Last payments to reviewers will be issued on March 6, 2014.  Access to online accounts and message boards will end on March 25,2014.  The suddenness of this suggests a poorly planned shutdown, which means they prolly just ran out of money.

Farewell, epinions!  Whatever form you eventually take, I'm sure I will not be apart of it.

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Recent Posts

reddit, the poorly organized and nearly unsearchab...
Article 1 section 2 paragraph 3 of the U.S. Consti...
Kelowna, BC
When did the Fastlane on Highways start to be call...
Want to keep the Internet neutral? We can take mea...
Over-notification
Epic mashup - Civilization will never be the same ...
Sensless Sunday: Mammoth Star
Everyone's got different tastes, but soy milk? Yu...
epinions.com is soon to end as we know it


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