Hey folks, I’m in the final push towards finishing this degree, so no promises regarding regular posting. So, here’s the shorties!
It’s easy to go after the more numerous target: yeah sure, doctors make a bunch of money. So if you’re trying to reduce medical costs, they have a target painted on their collective back. Kindly don’t pay attention to the boatload of money healthcare organizations spend trying to get paid, and certainly don’t pay attention to profits.
Disconnect: To listen to the media, this proposed law in New York would let cops see if you’ve been texting before a crash. However, to listen to cops and the manufacturer of the product, it just says if you’ve been “using” your phone. So, can it tell whether I was “using” the phone legally with a hands free device? Can it tell whether I was “using” the phone to stream music through my stereo? Can it tell whether it was actually being “used” by a passenger? And can it tell whether the “use” was something I initiated, or a push notification from an app or my carrier? Unless the answer to all of the above is “yes” — and I find that doubtful — this is a dumb idea.
This brave dog is Nicky. Nicky was shot and killed in the line of duty here in Las Vegas. This made the national news. So a few days went by, and some people started to wonder how come the criminal hadn’t been charged with capital murder of a police officer (I don’t know if K-9 units count, but I did hear some people ask), or even animal cruelty. It turns out that the shot was fired by a cop: Nicky was killed by “friendly fire.”
Now, when I heard that I was even more sad. But I also remembered this old post from 6 years ago. It took 7 cops 81 shots to kill one bad guy? I really don’t have a problem with cops shooting bad guys now and again, but they should actually hit what they fire at!
Just maybe Vegas cops need to spend some time on the freaking firing range learning to hit their targets.
I’ve been using search engines and Boolean search terms since literally before there was a Google. Back in the old days, you actually had to use some care and know some things about your topic before you started. Some of those search engines were sufficiently dim that — no joke — a search for “ants” might turn up restaurANTS and consultANTS. This actually happened to a lady I know.
Search engines got better and more numerous in the late 90s and early 2000s. Each had its own strength and weaknesses. On the Macintosh, there was actually a tool that let you use one search query on multiple search engines. This was a boon to me, since I was working as a researcher at the time. I could get Yahoo and Lycos and Ask Jeeves and all those other search engines to dance together and spit out what my bosses wanted to know in far less time than most people — partly because I knew what to ask.
Then this wonderful new search engine called Google came to my attention. It blew all the competition out of the water. Google was so good at what it did that “to Google” replaced “to do a web search” in our collective vocabularies. Over the years, Google got mostly better at finding what most people want to know. You could start asking it questions: what is the Capital of France; where can I get Thai food in Seattle; what is the airspeed of an unladen swallow? By the way, Google autocompletes that last one by the time you get 2 letters in to “airspeed.”
And here’s where it started getting dumber. It sounds like a brilliant idea to tailor your searches towards your history, right? If you are constantly looking up medical articles, you are likely to want more. Ok, but what if you were looking up anti-vaccine arguments for a school project? Google will happily help you make a tin-foil hat. Look up arguments against Hillary Clinton? Be prepared for biased articles every time you want to know about politics. There is a way to turn this feature off, and I recommend it. I have no idea how many arguments on the internet center on “Look, every time I search Google on this issue, X comes up.” Yeah, because Google decided that’s what you want to hear!
This ability of Google to find what it thinks you want instead of what you actually asked comes up in odd places. This brings me to this morning’s adventure. I am doing research on a specific zip code for a project:
How many parks are there in my target zip code, Google? Well, here’s a park in the next zip code over — because surely you actually want information on nearby parks, right?
What grocery stores are there in that zip code, Google? Well, there’s these 3, but wouldn’t you rather shop at the better-rated store across the street in the next zip code? And hey, will a convenience store do? And what about the places that you usually shop at a mile farther down the road? They’re open and traffic is clear!
In the old days, a search engine would have been literalist. Yes, the convenience stores would have turned up as grocery stores because most of them carry certain basic grocery products. But if that address didn’t have the right zip code at the end, it would not have turned up. I concede that most of the time “near” is a better answer. However, sometimes precision matters.
Oh yeah, and we can clamp down on prepaid phones too. After all, aren’t those only used by criminals and cheating spouses? Well, and people trying to get out of abusive situations. And whistleblowers. And homeless people trying to establish a phone number where potential employers can reach them without it being obviously a homeless shelter. Heck, the very idea that “they” want to crack down on them makes me want to buy a whole bunch of them.
It’s 3.14. Also, 3.1416. Perhaps celebrate with some pie?
In Closing: still fake; still bad for real Americans who like to have jobs; sounds like a wild goose chase to me; not having money is not actually a crime; and just maybe the FBI misjudged this and people have figured out that 24 was a TV show.
I know it’s been a long time since I put out a book review. Forgive me?
The opinions presented are my own. I’m not getting paid for this review. I bought my own copy and read it pretty much as fast as I could.
This week, the latest entry in Patricia Briggs‘s “Mercy Thompson” series came out. I’ve been following this series since the 3rd book was new (and the Alpha and Omega series from the beginning). So for those not familiar with the world: Mercy is a VW mechanic whose Native American heritage shows up in the form of being able to turn into a coyote; her husband is the Alpha of the werewolf pack in the Tri-Cities area of Washington state; due to circumstances that would take multiple novels to fully explain, the Faerie races have declared war on the United States Government; the werewolves are trying very hard to stay neutral in this war with limited success.
This particular installment begins when Mercy wakes with an uneasy feeling. Little does she know that by nightfall, she will be on the evening news after the pack defeats a troll on a bridge, and she makes an interesting declaration. You can check out the first chapter here. Or get your own digital copy here.
Let’s be clear. This novel is a bit of a departure from the tone of the series. The first half or so is pretty amusing, since Mercy does have a rather wicked sense of humor. However, lacking is that tear-jerker climax about 70-80% of the way through the book. This is a book that is primarily concerned with the plot arc. It establishes certain facts that will assuredly be important in the next books. It ties certain short stories into the larger plot. Bonus appearance by Baba Yaga! This is not the place to pick up the story, but it is a decent read.
And I do seriously wonder how Mercy’s lavender plant will turn out. It could be very interesting indeed.