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10 May 16:01

Math Makes Life Beautiful.

by Farnam Street

Math has long been the language of science, engineering, and finance, but can math help you feel calm on a turbulent flight? Get a date? Make better decisions? Here are some heroic ways math shows up in our everyday life.


Sounds intellectually sophisticated, doesn’t it? Other than sounding really smart at after-work cocktails, what could be the benefit of understanding where math and physics permeate your life?

Well, what if I told you that math and physics can help you make better decisions by aligning with how the world works? What if I told you that math can help you get a date? Help you solve problems? What if I told you that knowing the basics of math and physics can help make you less afraid and confused? And, perhaps most important, they can help make life more beautiful. Seriously.

If you’ve ever been on a plane when turbulence has hit, you know how unnerving that can be. Most people get freaked out by it, and no matter how much we fly, most of us have a turbulence threshold. When the sides of the plane are shaking, noisily holding themselves together, and the people beside us are white with fear, hands clenched on their armrests, even the calmest of us will ponder the wisdom of jetting 38,000 feet above the ground in a metal tube moving at 1,000 km an hour.

Considering that most planes don’t fall from the sky on account of turbulence isn’t that comforting in the moment. Aren’t there always exceptions to the rule? But what if you understood why, or could explain the physics involved to the freaked-out person beside you? That might help.

In Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life, Helen Czerski spends a chapter describing the gas laws. Covering subjects from the making of popcorn to the deep dives of sperm whales, her amazingly accessible prose describes how the movement of gas is fundamental to the functioning of pretty much everything on earth, including our lungs. She reveals air to be not the static clear thing that we perceive when we bother to look, but rivers of molecules in constant collision, pushing and moving, giving us both storms and cloudless skies.

So when you appreciate air this way, as a continually flowing and changing collection of particles, turbulence is suddenly less scary. Planes are moving through a substance that is far from uniform. Of course, there are going to be pockets of more or less dense air molecules. Of course, they will have minor impacts on the plane as it moves through these slightly different pressure areas. Given that the movement of air can create hurricanes, it’s amazing that most flights are as smooth as they are.

You know what else is really scary? Approaching someone for a date or a job. Rejection sucks. It makes us feel awful, and therefore the threat of it often stops us from taking risks. You know the scene. You’re out at a bar with some friends. A group of potential dates is across the way. Do you risk the cringingly icky feeling of rejection and approach the person you find most attractive, or do you just throw out a lot of eye contact and hope that person approaches you?

Most men go with the former, as difficult as it is. Women will often opt for the latter. We could discuss social conditioning, with the roles that our culture expects each of us to follow. But this post is about math and physics, which actually turn out to be a lot better in providing guidance to optimize our chances of success in the intimidating bar situation.

In The Mathematics of Love, Hannah Fry explains the Gale-Shapley matching algorithm, which essentially proves that “If you put yourself out there, start at the top of the list, and work your way down, you’ll always end up with the best possible person who’ll have you. If you sit around and wait for people to talk to you, you’ll end up with the least bad person who approaches you. Regardless of the type of relationship you’re after, it pays to take the initiative.”

The math may be complicated, but the principle isn’t. Your chances of ending up with what you want — say, the guy with the amazing smile or that lab director job in California — dramatically increase if you make the first move. Fry says, “aim high, and aim frequently. The math says so.” Why argue with that?

Understanding more physics can also free us from the panic-inducing, heart-pounding fear that we are making the wrong decisions. Not because physics always points out the right decision, but because it can lead us away from this unproductive, subjective, binary thinking. How? By giving us the tools to ask better questions.

Consider this illuminating passage from Czerski:

We live in the middle of the timescales, and sometimes it’s hard to take the rest of time seriously. It’s not just the difference between now and then, it’s the vertigo you get when you think about what “now” actually is. It could be a millionth of a second, or a year. Your perspective is completely different when you’re looking at incredibly fast events or glacially slow ones. But the difference hasn’t got anything to do with how things are changing; it’s just a question of how long they take to get there. And where is “there”? It is equilibrium, a state of balance. Left to itself, nothing will ever shift from this final position because it has no reason to do so. At the end, there are no forces to move anything, because they’re all balanced. They physical world, all of it, only ever has one destination: equilibrium.

How can this change your decision-making process?

You might start to consider whether you are speeding up the goal of equilibrium (working with force) or trying to prevent equilibrium (working against force).  One option isn’t necessarily worse than the other. But the second one is significantly more work.

So then you will understand how much effort is going to be required on your part. Love that house with the period Georgian windows? Great. But know that you will have to spend more money fighting to counteract the desire of the molecules on both sides of the window to achieve equilibrium in varying temperatures than you will if you go with the modern bungalow with the double-paned windows.

And finally, curiosity. Being curious about the world helps us find solutions to problems by bringing new knowledge to bear on old challenges. Math and physics are actually powerful tools for investigating the possibilities of what is out there.

Fry writes that “Mathematics is about abstracting away from reality, not replicating it. And it offers real value in the process. By allowing yourself to view the world from an abstract perspective, you create a language that is uniquely able to capture and describe the patterns and mechanisms that would otherwise remain hidden.”

Physics is very similar. Czerski says, “Seeing what makes the world tick changes your perspective. The world is a mosaic of physical patterns, and once you’re familiar with the basics, you start to see how those patterns fit together.”

Math and physics enhance your curiosity. These subjects allow us to dive into the unknown without being waylaid by charlatans or sidetracked by the impossible. They allow us to tackle the mysteries of life one at a time, opening up the possibilities of the universe.

As Czerski says, “Knowing about some basics bits of physics [and math!] turns the world into a toybox.” A toybox full of powerful and beautiful things.

The post Math Makes Life Beautiful. appeared first on Farnam Street.

10 May 16:01

One Frame Three Lives

by Richard Sachs

Of bike and body: The tale of how one Richard Sachs frame touched three lives

A celebrated framebuilder, a 1980s racer and her daughter connected by one 40-something-year-old bike frame


It was a sizzlingly hot day in Truckee, California. The early June sun made the road ahead stretch into goopy black taffy. Margi Porter (née Bethke) licked her lips, took one final inhale, then exhaled and assumed a tucked position atop the ramp she would blaze down.

Three, two, one. Ride!

It was the 1981 California State Time Trial Championships, a 40-kilometer race against the clock in which Porter would later claim a top-10 finish.

Her weapon of choice that day was a handcrafted Richard Sachs steed whose azure steel and sunflower yellow lettering glistened under the sun and sweat of the effort it took to cross the finish line.

“There was nothing but me and my Sachs [during that race],” said Porter. “We were a single machine; I powered it, it powered me. It was complete synergy: what we call ‘flow.’”

Richard Sachs is among the best custom framebuilders in the world. His frames, which have changed little over the years, are known for their distinctive lugs and curved front fork, hand-welded seams and, of course, the “Richard SACHS” emblazoned across the downtube.

Sachs’ entrance into the framebuilding world was a self-proclaimed “comedy of errors.” Yet nearly five decades later, he still crafts each of his frames alone and completely by hand. And some 50 custom bikes make it into the hands of riders eagerly awaiting their classic “RS” bike each year.

The fine steel and lugs, a heritage from his starting days in 1970s England. Taking some time to explore between high school and college, a young Sachs found himself abroad working at Witcomb cycles, churning out bikes to be used as vehicles rather than high-end racing vessels.

“I was never tutored or mentored in making bikes. I simply came in every day and did what I was asked to do,” Sachs said. “But, you know, if you stand around watching people do a craft for eight hours a day, six days a week, you learn a thing or two.”

Back in the States, Sachs assisted in opening up a bike shop where he and a business partner, Peter Weigle (of J.P. Weigle bikes), tried to recreate the frames they’d made abroad.

“We looked at each other like, ‘I don’t know how to make bikes’,” said Sachs “Peter and I labored for months, trying to remember the processes we’d seen in England. We eventually created our own method that was unique to us and quite different from what we’d learned abroad.”

After a few years working in tandem with a shop, Sachs and Weigle branched off to form their own respective framebuilding businesses. Sachs, of course, still has the lights on today while Weigle has since retired (but has been known to take on a frame-related project here and there).

Before the age of the “superbike” and mass-produced bike models, these were deliberately designed frames painstakingly built by craftspeople, lug by lug, bolt by bolt. The bikes were designed to be ridden at the highest level by riders who were keenly aware of how to position themselves when taking sharp corners or long descents, when to push the gearing to its limit and when to back off.

“Having a great bike frame is part of feeling confident in competition; most of the riders I raced against had custom frames, and I got a lot of ‘street cred’ for showing up with a Richard Sachs,” remembered Porter. “I was proud to ride a Sachs frame and I, in turn, did my bike proud with my performances. I got to a point where I truly understood how to ride it in a way that got the most out of both me and the bike.”

Porter didn’t always ride a Richard Sachs, though.  Her love of cycling began long before Sachs after dreamt of crafting one. She was in fourth grade and a change in school districts meant she could either take the bus or ride her bike to school. The choice was obvious.

“To this day, I have sensory memories of gliding no-handed down suburban streets and zooming around corners,” said Porter. “I loved the feeling of beating the bus home at the end of the day.”

It was her first inkling that riding a bike was about more than pushing the pedals – it was about the freedom, physically and mentally, a bike represented.

In high school, Porter would take daylong rides around New Jersey hometown. In an age before spandex, chamois cream, GPS or Google Maps, Porter would pack water, some money, and paper maps and simply see where the day would take her.

Porter even served as her own mechanic, frequently taking apart her entire bike and solving the puzzle of putting it back together with tools found in her childhood garage.

At age 18, Porter biked from New Jersey to Wyoming —a nearly 2,300-mile journey— simply because she could. On store-bought aluminum bike frames, Porter and three friends journeyed from the east to the mountain west in a few weeks. By the time Porter reached Wyoming, she was out of money and worked as a hotel housekeeper for a month to pay for a flight to her final destination: her first semester at Stanford University.

Overcoming fear, the unknown, and battling the unexpected on her journey west, Porter credited that cross-country ride as one of her most formative.

“My bike became so much more than a mechanical means of transportation,” said Porter. “It was an unexpected gateway to experiencing people, places, and myself in a meaningful way. I would never have had the same experiences if I drove a car or took an airplane.”

All that, from a Schwinn 10-speed.

Once at Stanford, Porter served as the first female co-captain of the Stanford Club Cycling Team, and that’s when her trust RS steed entered her life.

“When I had been at Stanford for about six months and was riding with the cycling club on my Schwinn 10-speed, I saw an index card on a bulletin board advertising a slightly-used Richard Sachs frame for $600,” said Porter. “My friend told me it was a good price so I bought it. By total luck, it fit like it had been made just for me. I rode that bike throughout college and then at regional and national championships.”

As a point of comparison, a single Richard Sachs frame today starts at about $6,000, while a complete bike by Richard Sachs is in the ballpark of $10,000. Six-hundred dollars was quite the steal, even for the early 1980s.

For Porter, her times on her blue and yellow Richard Sachs bike represented the period of her life in which she and her bike did a lot of “figuring it out.”

She muscled through her first-ever criterium, century, and day -rides on the RS steed. She became a Northern California State Champion on the Richard Sachs frame. What’s more, this steed, her two-wheeled confidante, even gave her a place to process the social and academic challenges of college.

Her time aboard the RS bike was as much about racing and performance as it was about “sharing an incredible physical experience while learning the skills of mastering your machine in order to master yourself.”

In this era of disc brakes, electronic shifting, and aerodynamic everything, Sachs still keeps things simple. No apps, no computer renderings. Just him, his workbench, and hope to master his skill.

“The master I serve is the fabrication of the bike,” said Sachs. “My goal, every time I begin to work on a bike, is to hope to reach a quality and level of build that I’ve never reached before. If I ever reached a point where I didn’t think I could build the next frame better than the one before it, there really wouldn’t be any point in my continuing to come to my workshop each morning.

In a sense, framebuilding and the riding of that frame aren’t so different.

Great bikes take us to great places that can be found on a map, that’s the initial allure. But a trusty two-wheeled partner will also take us places no cartographer can plot. They take us to independence, self-reliance, and through the journey of wanting the most out of ourselves each time we clip in.

Porter wondered if today’s riders still have the same “soulful connection” to their bikes. Meaning, the notion that one’s favorite bike helps them not just win races, but grow personally, spiritually, each time they roll out for a session.

Porter kept her Sachs until her daughter, I, was old enough to ride. I was 15 years old and honored to receive it. Our connection was instant as I felt the decades of adventure ingrained in the steel frame; I completed my first road races and triathlons on that Richard Sachs frame — 30 years after my mom rode it.

The bike currently hangs, now retired from its time on the asphalt, in my home near Boulder, Colorado. Porter meanwhile, still hits the open road, but prefers long mountain bike rides in the woods of Maine, where she resides. She still uses rides to figure things out and cherishes the mental clarity a day in the saddle can provide.


The post One Frame Three Lives appeared first on Richard Sachs Cycles.

30 Nov 22:09

Forget Book Trailers: Book Playlists are the New Hotness

by Tim Carmody

Book trailers are already such a thing that there’s whole weekly columns devoted to them, a whole slew of tips and tricks; a veritable ecosystem. People want multimedia with their books. But what if the new hotness wasn’t a trailer at all? What if it was something that lots of us already do anyways, with a much lower barrier for entry?

I’m talking about book playlists, music that reflects the theme or the time and place of the book, a non-audiobook soundtrack that enhances and embellishes the written word. I love this idea!

Now, there are, as I see it, two ways to go with playlists period, and book playlists in particular. First, you can go big. Spotify and other music services can support hundreds of songs in individual playlists, and there’s no reason why you have to have just one. You can literally drown your reader/listener in sweet tunes to listen to while they read, to get psyched up while they’re waiting for their books to arrive, or to have a way to interact with the world of a book they might not even read or by.

This is the approach Questlove took when making a playlist for Michelle Obama’s blockbuster Becoming. It’s over a thousand songs split into three playlists, covering 1964 (Michelle’s birth year) to the present. Amazingly, as far as I can tell, there’s not a dud in the bunch. These selections are ridiculously good.

The other approach, which is a little more feasible for most of us, is to make a playlist about the length of an old mix CD — about 80 minutes, for those who don’t remember (and 60, 90, and 120 for those who remember back to cassette tapes). This is best exemplified by Tressie McMillan Cottom’s outstanding book playlist for her new essay collection Thick (now available for preorder). Here, too, the selection is terrific — and if I can say, a touch more personal and intelligible than Questlove’s epic collection.

If I ever write a book (and that day seems farther away every year), I’m definitely doing this. Hmm — I wonder what a playlist would look like? [smiles mischievously]

Update: Brett Porter points out that Thomas Pynchon created a playlist for Inherent Vice that includes songs mentioned in the book. Kyle Johnson notes that largehearted boy’s Book Notes series consists of book playlists by various authors each week inspired by their books, including “Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.”

Tags: books   media   Michelle Obama   music   Tressie McMillan Cottom
21 Nov 16:44

Apple’s Holiday Short: ‘Share Your Gifts’

by John Gruber

I’ll bet this feeling resonates with a lot of DF readers.

24 Oct 20:08

PSA shows a woman publicly detoxing from opioids

by Chrysanthe Tenentes

Since we don’t often see the treatment side of the opioid crisis, a new campaign from 72andsunny and M SS NG P ECES streamed the first three days of a woman’s detox in Astor Place. The resulting PSA, “Treatment Box,” is hard to look away from.

Tags: drugs
31 Aug 04:20

Painting the skin you live in

by Jason Kottke

School Colors

For the beginning of school, second-grade teacher Aeriale Johnson had each of her students mix up a container of paint that matched their skin color so they could use it in paintings of themselves during the rest of the school year.

We started with a base of brown or peach tempera for each child then, in small groups, added white, yellow, red, dark brown and/or green to get to just the right hue. They looked like they were at Ulta trying to find foundation. :) The conversations were great!

Tags: Aeriale Johnson   art   color   education
31 Aug 04:01

Offering a more progressive definition of freedom

by Jason Kottke

Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He is a progressive Democrat, Rhodes scholar, served a tour of duty in Afghanistan during his time as mayor, and is openly gay. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Buttigieg talked about the need for progressives to recast concepts that conservatives have traditionally “owned” — like freedom, family, and patriotism — in more progressive terms.

You’ll hear me talk all the time about freedom. Because I think there is a failure on our side if we allow conservatives to monopolize the idea of freedom — especially now that they’ve produced an authoritarian president. But what actually gives people freedom in their lives? The most profound freedoms of my everyday existence have been safeguarded by progressive policies, mostly. The freedom to marry who I choose, for one, but also the freedom that comes with paved roads and stop lights. Freedom from some obscure regulation is so much more abstract. But that’s the freedom that conservatism has now come down to.

Or think about the idea of family, in the context of everyday life. It’s one thing to talk about family values as a theme, or a wedge — but what’s it actually like to have a family? Your family does better if you get a fair wage, if there’s good public education, if there’s good health care when you need it. These things intuitively make sense, but we’re out of practice talking about them.

I also think we need to talk about a different kind of patriotism: a fidelity to American greatness in its truest sense. You think about this as a local official, of course, but a truly great country is made of great communities. What makes a country great isn’t chauvinism. It’s the kinds of lives you enable people to lead. I think about wastewater management as freedom. If a resident of our city doesn’t have to give it a second thought, she’s freer.

Clean drinking water is freedom. Good public education is freedom. Universal healthcare is freedom. Fair wages are freedom. Policing by consent is freedom. Gun control is freedom. Fighting climate change is freedom. A non-punitive criminal justice system is freedom. Affirmative action is freedom. Decriminalizing poverty is freedom. Easy & secure voting is freedom. This is an idea of freedom I can get behind.

Tags: language   Pete Buttigieg   politics
22 Aug 02:01

Research Suggests Facebook Fueled Anti-Refugee Attacks in Germany

by John Gruber

Amanda Taub and Max Fisher, reporting for The New York Times:

Karsten Müller and Carlo Schwarz, researchers at the University of Warwick, scrutinized every anti-refugee attack in Germany, 3,335 in all, over a two-year span. In each, they analyzed the local community by any variable that seemed relevant. Wealth. Demographics. Support for far-right politics. Newspaper sales. Number of refugees. History of hate crime. Number of protests.

One thing stuck out. Towns where Facebook use was higher than average, like Altena, reliably experienced more attacks on refugees. That held true in virtually any sort of community — big city or small town; affluent or struggling; liberal haven or far-right stronghold — suggesting that the link applies universally.

Their reams of data converged on a breathtaking statistic: Wherever per-person Facebook use rose to one standard deviation above the national average, attacks on refugees increased by about 50 percent.

And the effect apparently works the other way, too:

Could Facebook really distort social relations to the point of violence? The University of Warwick researchers tested their findings by examining every sustained internet outage in their study window. German internet infrastructure tends to be localized, making outages isolated but common. Sure enough, whenever internet access went down in an area with high Facebook use, attacks on refugees dropped significantly.

01 Apr 13:48

Study finds increased possibility of information leaking around Fed meetings

by walterbell


29 Mar 02:44

wednesday selecter

by admin

24 Mar 00:15

Game Workers Unite

by smacktoward

We need more of this.

Article URL:

Comments URL:

Points: 282

# Comments: 171

24 Mar 00:08

Ricky Gervais Meets Garry Shandling

by John Gruber

Wow this is just fucking great all the way through.

Not sure how I never saw this before, but boom, there went an hour. Just a terrific, almost podcast-like, interview.

10 Mar 14:32

Britain’s White-Collar Cops Are Getting Too Good at Their Job

by dmmalam

I hope we start taking scalps in America.

14 Apr 20:46

ShadowBrokers: The NSA Compromised the SWIFT Network

by raesene9
14 Apr 20:45

Research principles of the legendary Xerox PARC

by Jason Kottke

Xerox PARC was one of the most influential technology companies of the past 50 years. Among the technologies invented and/or developed there include Ethernet, laser printers, the modern mouse-controlled GUI, and WYSIWYG text editing. On Quora, former PARC researcher Alan Kay shared the principles under which research at the company operated; here are the first five:

1. Visions not goals

2. Fund people not projects — the scientists find the problems not the funders. So, for many reasons, you have to have the best researchers.

3. Problem Finding — not just Problem Solving

4. Milestones not deadlines

5. It’s “baseball” not “golf” — batting .350 is very good in a high aspiration high risk area. Not getting a hit is not failure but the overhead for getting hits. (As in baseball, an “error” is failing to pull off something that is technically feasible.)

(via @pieratt)

Tags: Alan Kay   lists   Xerox PARC
14 Mar 20:38

Pothole in your neighborhood? Tell Portland Anarchist Road Care to fix it

by Mark Frauenfelder


The reason people like to complain about municipalities' slow response to pothole complaints is because municipalities are slow to respond to pothole complaints. But group that calls itself Portland Anarchist Road Care is taking matters into its own hands by illegally repairing potholes around town.


Because we believe in building community solutions to the issues we face, outside of the state.

Because society portrays anarchists as only breaking windows and blocking roads.

Because when faced with anarchism as a political theory, statests often ask "But who will fix the roads."

Because the city of Portland refuses to adequately repair roads in a timely manner.

We are Portland Anarchist Road Care. We believe in community oriented direct action. We believe the state cares more about funding a militarized police force to suppress free speech than caring for and repairing the roads.

The city of Portland has shown gross negligence in its inadequate preventative care through this winter's storms, and through its slow repair of potholes as weather has improved. Daily, this negligence is an active danger to cyclists and causes damage to people's automobiles, and an increased risk of collision and bodily injury.

Portland Anarchist Road Care aims to mobilize crews throughout our city, in our neighborhoods, to patch our streets, build community, and continue to find solutions to community problems outside of the state.


11 Mar 03:45

An epidemic of middle-aged male loneliness

by Jason Kottke



Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States, has said many times in recent years that the most prevalent health issue in the country is not cancer or heart disease or obesity. It is isolation.


Beginning in the 1980s, Schwartz says, study after study started showing that those who were more socially isolated were much more likely to die during a given period than their socially connected neighbors, even after you corrected for age, gender, and lifestyle choices like exercising and eating right. Loneliness has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke and the progression of Alzheimer’s. One study found that it can be as much of a long-term risk factor as smoking.

The research doesn’t get any rosier from there. In 2015, a huge study out of Brigham Young University, using data from 3.5 million people collected over 35 years, found that those who fall into the categories of loneliness, isolation, or even simply living on their own see their risk of premature death rise 26 to 32 percent.


Tags: medicine
05 Mar 15:12

Arkansas wants to ban all classroom mentions of Howard Zinn (teachers, get your free books!)

by Cory Doctorow

The Arkansas legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit "any books or other material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn" in its schools, on the grounds that Howard Zinn says means things about America, like, "It has the kinds of censoring, undemocratic state governments that ban all books by and discussions of critics of America and its actions." (more…)

02 Mar 15:12

Norwegian news site makes readers pass test proving they read the post before commenting on it

by Rob Beschizza

Great idea.

NRKbeta, the tech page of Norway's public broadcaster, ran a story about proposed internet surveillance laws. But to comment on it, you had to know what was in the story.

The team at NRKbeta attributes the civil tenor of its comments to a feature it introduced last month. On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they’re allowed to post a comment. (For instance, in the digital surveillance story: “What does DGF stand for?”)

My first thought is that it couldn't work in America or Brexit because the presence of the test itself would only generate its own towering buttnami of rage. People would pass the test just so they could chock up the comments with complaints about how the test censors them.

21 Feb 15:59

Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner

by mark

I bought a gallon of Simple Green about 3 or 4 years ago at Home Depot for about $10. It works great as a cleaner and degreaser. We use it to clean every room in the house. It has a nice pleasant kind of neutral smell. (You go into some people’s houses, and the smell of their heavily fragranced cleaners is kind of overwhelming.)

It is non-toxic and biodegradable. So it is not only better for you and your family but also better for the environment when that soapy water ends up out in the environment. I am still using the original gallon I bought 3 or 4 years ago, and I am still using the sprayer bottle I bought back then. That is probably at least 30-40 bottles that I would have otherwise bought. Recycling such plastic waste helps, but not even buying it in the first place is the best thing to do.

It saves trips to the store to buy cleaner. I have not had to even think about buying an all-purpose cleaner for years. On the bottle, it tells you how to dilute the product. 1 to 30 for light cleaning, and 1 to 10 for heavier duty cleaning. The re-usable spray bottle I bought has volume markings on it, so it’s easy to get the ratio correct. Home Depot also sells an empty bottle that says Simple Green on it. That would negate the need to mark the generic bottle with indelible ink to show what it contains. It is widely available at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other larger stores. Also your local hardware store probably carries it.

-- Justin Lamar

Simple Green 1 Gal. Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner ($10)

21 Feb 15:24

Avocado Sticker

by swissmiss

Where has this Avocado sticker been all my life?

09 Feb 15:07

Republicans Are Moving to Scrap Rules That Limit Overdraft Fees

by John Gruber

Matthew Zeitlin, reporting for BuzzFeed:

Last week, Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue introduced a resolution in Congress, alongside other Republicans including his fellow Georgian Johnny Isakson, to throw out a new package of rules for the prepaid debit card industry.

The rules, finalized by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in October, include limitations on overdraft fees, which have become a significant source of consumer complaints about the financial industry — and an important revenue stream for Georgia-based financial firm Total System Services, whose NetSpend unit is the country’s largest manager of prepaid cards, according to a 2015 financial filing.

The vast majority of prepaid debit cards don’t come with overdraft fees, but NetSpend’s do, and the fees accounted for 10-12% of its overall revenue in 2016, or $80-85 million, the company told investors in October. Its parent has spent big on lobbying and political donations in a bid to kill the rules: in the last three months of 2016 alone, it spent some $270,000 lobbying Congress.

Again, this should be absolutely bipartisan. The people who are hit by these usurious overcharge fees are Republicans and Democrats alike. There’s no liberal/conservative angle to this. It’s just wrong.

And look at the deal Total Shitbag Services gets out of this: they spend $270 thousand lobbying Congress in order to preserve nearly 100 million in fees.


06 Feb 21:40

Trump’s F.C.C. Pick Quickly Targets Net Neutrality Rules

by phaedryx
31 Jan 17:48

Welcome, ACLU

by katm
30 Jan 15:04

The Department of Labor's Wells Fargo whistleblower site has disappeared

by Cory Doctorow

Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, the Department of Labor's whistleblower site -- for Wells Fargo employees who wanted to report fraud in the ongoing scandal affecting millions of Americans -- disappeared. (more…)

27 Jan 21:44

Were police snooping on Women’s March protesters’ cellphones? Too many departments won’t say

by Curtis Waltman
27 Jan 16:25

Felony Charges for 6 Reporters at Inauguration Protests

by RA_Fisher
20 Jan 19:34

Hunter S. Thompson’s Obituary for Richard Nixon

by John Gruber

Feels appropriate today:

Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.

15 Dec 19:00

Inside The Psychology Of The Rebel Electors Who Seek To Overturn Trump's Election

by Elizabeth Segran

Save us emoluments clause, you're our only hope...

How can an Electoral College member go against the will of voters in their state? This Harvard professor explains their moral logic.

How can an Electoral College member go against the will of voters in their state? This Harvard professor explains their moral logic.

What does it take to be a rebel, when your instinct is to follow the herd?

That's the question that comes to mind when you consider the Hamilton Electors, the growing movement of Republican electors who are choosing not to vote for Donald Trump next Monday. That's when all 538 members of the Electoral College will traipse to the capital cities in their states and cast their votes: 306 are Republicans and 232 are Democrats. In a normal election year, the Republicans would vote for their party's nominee. But, as we all know, this was no normal election year.

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13 Dec 19:51

Things you notice when you quit the news

by Jason Kottke

I abandoned Al Jazeera, Mother Jones (rss), and The Intercept. Feels so much easier.

David Cain quit following the news many years ago — “I’m mostly talking about following TV and internet newscasts here” — and noticed several benefits.

A common symptom of quitting the news is an improvement in mood. News junkies will say it’s because you’ve stuck your head in the sand.

But that assumes the news is the equivalent of having your head out in the fresh, clear air. They don’t realize that what you can glean about the world from the news isn’t even close to a representative sample of what is happening in the world.

The news isn’t interested in creating an accurate sample. They select for what’s 1) unusual, 2) awful, and 3) probably going to be popular. So the idea that you can get a meaningful sense of the “state of the world” by watching the news is absurd.

Their selections exploit our negativity bias. We’ve evolved to pay more attention to what’s scary and infuriating, but that doesn’t mean every instance of fear or anger is useful. Once you’ve quit watching, it becomes obvious that it is a primary aim of news reports-not an incidental side-effect-to agitate and dismay the viewer.

What appears on the news is not “The conscientious person’s portfolio of concerns”. What appears is whatever sells, and what sells is fear, and contempt for other groups of people.

Curate your own portfolio. You can get better information about the world from deeper sources, who took more than a half-day to put it together.

I watch and read plenty about current events, but the last time I “followed the news” was probably in high school. 95% of it is gossip & soap opera and the 5% that isn’t, you can get elsewhere, better.

Tags: David Cain   journalism