Phone Home

So, now that the FBI has found a gracious way to get themselves out of the Apple Mess, now what?

Why, we blame Brussels on encryption without any evidence that it was used, of course!

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.

In Closing: Things that are bad for children; The Emperor; and sunlight is a great disinfectant.

Unhappy Anniversary: Vegas’s Towering Inferno

November 21, 1980, the MGM Grand Hotel (now Bally’s) had a deadly fire:

The official report on the fire is available in PDF form via the Fire Department. The event caused 85 deaths, a huge change of attitude, a massive renovation of Nevada’s building codes related to fire safety, and changes to Clark County Fire Department.

The lessons learned in Las Vegas may even have made your town’s tall buildings safer.

Music Monday: In which I misuse Tom Petty


There’s been quite a lot of talk about, between, and across those that think vaccinations are wonderful lifesaving technology, and those that don’t. And for those who are saying “What’s the big deal? Measles are just a rash!” Roald Dahl has some words for you. Here’s one of the better summaries.

Let me briefly put my position out there: vaccines save lives; herd immunity saves the lives of those who are too young or sick for vaccines, as well as those for whom the vaccine didn’t work as well as it should. The risks associated with the currently available vaccines are tiny compared to the risks of being hit by lightning. Vegas is uncomfortably close to Disneyland, has its own supposedly unrelated case of measles, and 3 cases of whooping cough in one high school. All preventable.

Today’s latest round — politicians have waded into the fray. Should we then call it Measlesgate? Vaxgate? Maybe just Stupidgate. So the President went on the record as saying the sensible thing: “You should get your kids vaccinated.” The crowd that would argue about the American flag being Red White and Blue if the Kenyan Muslim Usurper President said so immediately swung into action! They couldn’t come out and say “No no no, vaccinations are dangerous,” because that would be too stupid. Instead, two people who want to run for President in 2016, Chris Christie and Rand Paul, said that parents should be able to make the choice for themselves about whether to vaccinate their kids. Dr. Dean is not amused.

Ok, let’s talk about parental choice and child safety. When it comes to keeping children safe, the law doesn’t allow certain choices. Parents aren’t allowed to choose whether to use a car seat for a baby, or whether their older children use seat belts. Parent’s aren’t allowed to choose to withhold medical care they don’t agree with in most states — even when the “child” is the one making the decision. We don’t let parents choose to do things that are known to put a child in danger (except let them play football, of course). The idea that parents should be able to choose to endanger their children (and those around them) is ludicrous.

In short, this is yet another argument where the facts just don’t support two sides to the issue.

In Closing: they hate us for our freedoms; Greece and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; yeah, that ain’t happening; no kidding; stereotypes; and Evangeline.

Music Monday: Just Drive!

I bet you were wondering how I was going to work habits in, weren’t you?

So, let’s talk about driver safety. Did you know that there are a lot of people out there who still don’t wear seat belts?? If you’re one of them, I know a habit you should be working on. Driving while distracted is a terrible and potentially deadly habit you should break. Finally, let’s be aware that older cars have fewer safety features than newer ones and drive cautiously.

Oh, and probably best not to let your cat drive at all.

Indy says….

“It belongs in a museum!”


Regrettably not my original picture. Some pics were lost in a server upgrade. It still says “museum model,” trust me.

See, says so right there on the side: “MUSEUM MODEL”.

This little lovely is at the National Atomic Testing Museum. Worth visiting, don’t bring small children, don’t pay extra for the Area 51 exhibit. These are my opinions, your mileage might vary, driver carries no cash.

In Closing: original Porsche electric car; more than one in four American families had trouble paying medical bills in 2012; turns out the safety argument is bogus; your usual assortment of NSA, spying, privacy, terror, blah blah and related links; fox would like job guarding henhouse; still might be worth laying in some extra supplies; “oh, gee, maybe that factory sealed bottle from the duty free store isn’t a flight risk after all”; yeah, I think I’ll skip the “wearable tech,” which is somehow mostly about sex and food. I think the Twitter Bra is the most ridiculous item.

And Happy End of January.

And Now for Something Completely Different: A “Life Well Lived” Special Post

Ok, I know this isn’t what most of my readers are used to. If it isn’t your cup of tea, I bet you can find the “In Closing” bits in their usual location at the end.

I’ve been asked by the nice people at BlogHer (see that banner ad over there? Great!) to write a post on “How do you care for your hair in the colder, drier months?” If you would like, go take a look at the official tips first. Back yet? Great. Add your comments here for a chance to win $250.

So what do I do about my hair? The sad truth is “not much”:

  • I make sure I don’t go too long between hair appointments. A lot of bad hair days are caused by split ends and growing out of a good trim. I know it’s tempting for a lady to grow hair out over the winter, but that’s only a good idea if you love ponytails… Every. Single. Day.
  • I already live in Vegas, where it’s “drier” most of the time. There is no substitute year round for a quality everyday conditioner, and perhaps a weekly deep condition. My hairdresser insists I need a leave-in, and I admit that helps on days where my hair is fighting all efforts to be combed.
  • Again, this is one I can only get away with because I live in Vegas. Never ever do this if you live someplace it freezes in winter. I am lousy with a hair dryer, so I just don’t use one! I just “gel, scrunch, and go.” As a result, I don’t have to deal with heat damage.

So no, I don’t do a lot special on my hair in winter. My skin is another story! I get very dry skin, and I have a strategy to deal with it. Of course, it involves a moisturizing sunscreen on my face. It also involves a good quality moisturizer on my hands and legs. But there’s more: my daily supplements include fish oil and Vitamin D (which I’m not getting through sun exposure); and quality anti-aging products selected with the help of a physician.

In Closing: yeah, we’ve really made things better for Afghan women, not! (I particularly like the line about “Shockingly” this is common!); using “facts and logic” — I  know the bumper sticker says that should confuse a liberal like myself — to prove CRA didn’t cause the housing bubble; How to talk to people at Thanksgiving who are likely to have read “How to talk to a Liberal, if you must” and other family members; the new poor; maybe they liked the scenery; the banks finally stole too much; police bust down the door and kill the dogs… over a stolen Xbox that wasn’t even there (ya know, I bet Microsoft would have gladly told cops what IP address it was on!); as usual, Dave Johnson is long-winded but correct (I’d add “water and sewer” to his list); Grayson is hilarious (and knows the Bible); and Shatner on Turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Silent Night, Deadly Shorties

Merry Christmas! Here’s a little Christmas history for you.

Ok, let’s start off with obligatory items on health insurance reform. The Senate has officially voted on the accursed thing. Here’s the rational case for kill the bill, and push back in conference. The real problem is that this, like many bills, is so long that nobody knows what’s in it, even the Senators.

I have a soft spot for education. Here’s an item on schools that work.

Surely the economic worst is behind us. So saith the President. Unfortunately, he thinks small business is going to lead us out of this mess. That can’t happen as long as banks won’t lend to small businesses (or will only make home equity loans to them), and certainly won’t happen if that small business can’t get affordable health insurance for its owners and employees — who will all be required to have “mandated” insurance under the new bill. Maybe what we really need is some manufacturing, instead of pretending we can build an economy on selling lattes to one another.

Go ahead and tackle that kid, but don’t do any science! You might get hurt! Yeah, maybe we have gone a little wacky on the safety thing (oops, unintentional football joke!). But the point is well taken that the Dangerous Book for Boys isn’t, and most kids aren’t doing any real science in school for fear of lawsuits.

What a great idea! Boy sees problem. Boy asks why problem exists. Boy comes up with solution. Food banks for pet supplies!

SHHHHHHH! Most censored news stories of the year.

Must be nice. Fannie and Freddie’s CEOs are taking home 7 figure paychecks this year. Where do I send my resume?

Schneier on the Predator Drone hack. Short version, it’s not that big a deal. Find out why!

And last…

I think he’s on to something: The grand unifying theory of progressive frustration.

Sorry for anybody who was disappointed that I didn’t cover the Emperor’s birthday. I had net outages yesterday.