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recent comments, posts, and shares:
wasoxygen  ·  15 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What Happened to The London Stone?

wasoxygen  ·  36 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Justices Are Bad Gun Historians

    Gun ownership is particularly high compared to other common items. For example, in 813 itemized male inventories from the 1774 Jones national database, guns are listed in 54% of estates, compared to only 30% of estates listing any cash, 14% listing swords or edged weapons, 25% listing Bibles, 62% listing any book, and 79% listing any clothes.

Counting Guns in Early America

First hit for query “ how many oeople.owned guns in 1787”

wasoxygen  ·  45 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Big’s 2023

After 96 hours and 400 miles, eight runners remain in.

  AUS 1 Phil Gore

BEL 2 Merijn Geerts

USA 5 Harvey Lewis

JPN 13 Terumichi Morishita

USA 20 Jon Noll

CAN 24 Ihor Verys

BEL 25 Frank Gielen

POL 32 Bartosz Fudali

They are tied in first place, all having completed 96 "yards," the 4.17-mile course. They are now on yard 97, running on the difficult daytime trail course, having survived 11 hours of the tedious nighttime road course.

Bib numbers are assigned by previous longest distance, with Phil Gore leading at 102 yards (425 miles).

live video

live results


wasoxygen  ·  61 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Don't Meet Your Heroes, Especially the Dead Ones

    If the fish is hooked in the bony part of the mouth I am sure the hook hurts him no more than the harness hurts the angler.

I agree the fishsplaining is not very persuasive. Shooting an Elephant is similarly disturbing but at least the narrator feels bad about it.

wasoxygen  ·  65 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Greek temples made of wood

I understand the point of the article to be that it's interesting when artifacts evolve and previously functional elements are retained for a purely decorative purpose. I take your point to be that it's not so interesting.

Consider that a typical Kindle contains dozens of books, so it is more like a bookshelf than a single book. The original design intent was for the device to "get out of the way and disappear so you can enter the author’s world." The display may have a page-turning animation, or a dog-ear icon indicating a bookmark, or adjustable margins, but outside of the reading interface I don't see book-like structural features, certainly not a spine to hold the pages together and display the title while the book is shelved.

A cover is a functional accessory "to keep clean and avoid problems with the screen" and not a merely decorative replacement for a formerly functional element. Hardback books have dust jackets that also have a functional purpose: to protect (and decorate) the book.

I don't see the relevance of the floppy disk or save button. Storage media has evolved considerably, from flexible plastic disks to hard platters in metal enclosures, shiny CD-ROMs and DVDs, and now solid state flash memory. At no point was a previously functional element retained for decorative purposes. The GUI happened to become popular when the 3.5-inch disk was in service, the save button adopted that image as an icon and has not evolved since.

    The OP said that.

Indeed, that must be why I was looking for dentils in my photo, but I forgot by the time I got to the nitpick-Devac stage. "Vestigial" is probably a better fit, but it implies uselessness so maybe we are stuck with "skeuomorphic."

wasoxygen  ·  65 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Greek temples made of wood

A Kindle doesn't look much like a book, it looks more like a tablet computer. The only similarity is a rectangular area of text, which is the bare essence of a tool used for reading, also present in the Kindle web app and street signs.

The floppy disk is not the predecessor of the save button; they existed together for many years and the button image persists because it is a familiar way to represent an abstract concept.

I don't know anything about architecture, and when I read this article I searched my phone for pictures of buildings and found one that showed the row of small blocks along a top edge.

These are called dentils because they resemble teeth.

    The Roman architect Vitruvius (iv. 2) states that the dentil represents the end of a rafter (asser). It occurs in its most pronounced form in the Ionic temples of Asia Minor, the Lycian tombs and the porticoes and tombs of Persia, where it clearly represents the reproduction in stone of timber construction.

I think they look nice, and it's interesting that they are now decorative elements with an atavistic function, like the non-closing shutters on the front of my house.

wasoxygen  ·  66 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Don't Meet Your Heroes, Especially the Dead Ones

    Hemingway wrote more than 30 stories for Esquire. These included detailed analyses of marlin behavior that were dry even for angling aficionados. But one told the true story of a man out fishing alone who caught an immense marlin that was destroyed by sharks. Decades later, it evolved into The Old Man and the Sea. The story—simple, direct, no dreaming of lions—may be better than the book.

I read The Old Man and the Sea in April and always hear Hemingway's prose in the voice of Wolfram Kandinsky. "On the Blue Water" contains just a paragraph about the old man and the sea.

wasoxygen  ·  73 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: When I Stopped Trying to Self-Optimize, I Got Better

The strategy of giving up on "determination, grit, self-confidence, desire" might be more relevant to the typical NYT reader if the author were not already an expert climber with decades of experience. The Everything Store has a preview of his book, The Zen of Climbing, in which he recounts this episode in more detail. The route, "a soft 5.13a/7c+, but not a gimme" is in fact the highest expert level, just before Super Expert, Elite, Super Elite, and Aliens.

    I wasn't mad, but for the first time in my life, after climbing for nearly 30 years, it struck me that the desire to climb the route had actually been the thing preventing me from doing so. That was the beginning of a massive shift in my perspective.

He did not give up on his hard-earned skills, nor the physical capability developed over years. "When I took away (the desire for success), my body moved with greater fluidity and naturalness." One wonders why he would even make a second attempt if there was no desire for success, but I think this implies a relaxing of the standard for success, not simply getting to the top but facing the challenge and learning from it.

    Your only goal is to breathe, and stay there, each move by each move. Just execute. Try hard, but not too hard. But don't panic. Relaxed aggression. Poised, but with nothing to lose. Listen to exactly what your body needs. Respond as quickly as possible. Make good decisions.

This sounds like good advice for someone who has reached the level of mastery at which "nerves" have become the biggest obstacle.

wasoxygen  ·  76 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Underrated ideas in psychology

    Okay look I thought I knew how a computer works but I really don’t. That’s the illusion of explanatory depth. I have it for everything: toilets (the water goes whoosh and the poop goes away; I have no idea how this happens), cars (gasoline makes the pistons go up and down and something something the car moves), and capitalism (people sell stuff and people buy stuff and this is bad, I guess?).

I wonder how many people can explain how a toilet works. You're sitting there every day, you have the ultimate information machine in your hand. It seems like you can almost reason it out from first principles.

Start with a hole in the ground. Problem: poop is smelly, the hole fills up and you have to dig a new hole.

Improvement: Throw the poop in the river. Problem: The river is far away, you have to walk in the rain.

Improvement: Build a structure to live in, throw the poop out the window, let the rain wash it away.

This technique was state of the art for a long time. People kept a container under the bed and in the morning someone, a servant if you were better off, would fling the "night soil" out the window. In the English-speaking world, it was a courtesy to shout a cute warning before spraying passers-by with human waste.

I had to look it up. In Edinburgh residents of tenement buildings would shout "gardyloo," short for “Prenez garde a l’eau!” before dumping their chamber pots out the window, possibly the source of the word loo.

Imagine getting up early to fetch the day's water from the village pump before a line forms, and you have to dodge a cascade of falling filth, and you appreciate that your neighbor was kind enough to let you know to get out of the way.

Eventually John Snow worked out that the village pump was killing people with cholera, so drainage was improved with sewers, open channels at first and buried pipes later. Water treatment is more advanced today, but sewers still rely mainly on dependable gravity. I'm not sure what happens when the toilet is too far from the water treatment plant to allow a continuous downhill grade; there must be some kind of poop elevator somewhere. Even here in the affluent D.C. area, I believe raw sewage is flushed into the river during heavy rains, because toilet waste and storm drains go through the same tunnels.

To save the trouble of handling waste, the sewer pipe can be extended into the home. A further convenience is a supply of drinkable water which can be used to flush the sticky mess down the pipe. I don't understand how the water supply works, I think I know where in the Potomac River my house water comes from, but I don't know where it goes after that. They add "chlorine" and "fluorine" but not the pure chemical elements, they pump it through undergroud pipes which sometimes rupture, water towers located at high places also provide pressure and reliable gravity flow. What steps are taken to prevent poisoning the treated water? How risky is polluted water? There was that building in New York City that had a murder victim floating in the rooftop tank for months and nobody (else) died.

We are almost at the modern toilet. For comfort, it is shaped like a chair, though some cultures still practice squatting. It's made out of porcelain, which makes it very heavy and subject to breaking. Why not lightweight plastic or fiberglass? Porcelain can be thoroughly cleaned and holds up to scrubbing. A removable seat is made of plastic or wood which absorbs heat more slowly so it does not feel as cold even when it is the same temperature as the porcelain.

There is still the problem of getting the waste to go down the pipe, and the problem of stinky sewer gas coming up the pipe. The clever solution is the P-trap, which is actually shaped more like a U, and also appears under sinks. Water fills the U and blocks sewer gas from coming up. And when poop drops into the water, it might be less likely to adhere to the toilet and the water can reduce odor.

Now we just need a supply of water we can quickly dump on top of the mess to shove it down the pipe. A bucket would work, but rather than taking time to fill a bucket we attach a tank behind or above the toilet and use a float switch to let it fill up, then turn off the water supply. When you yank the chain or push the lever, a flapper flips up from covering a hole in the tank and the water gushes down to hopefully send the waste away. The flapper has a clever design which holds enough air -- I realize I don't quite understand how it works but when the tank is full the water pressure holds the flapper down, then a chain attached to the handle pulls it up and out of the way until the tank water completely drains, and some water inside the flapper pulls it back down in place.

Our more modern toilets have pushbuttons on the top for small and big jobs, there is a float attached to a column under the buttons, and I don't know how the water flow is controlled. Like many newer technologies, the function is more opaque and when there are problems I am more likely to replace the whole thing rather than a part. In Japan the poop is teleported.

I remember what seemed like a ridiculous social quarrel when a new law restricted the amount of water a toiled could use per flush. People complained that they would have to flush twice, and they bought up the supply of toilets made before the limit, or imported Canadian toilets. Now that I'm older and grumpier, I am more inclined to complain. The only justification for the water limit is to save water. I find myself often flushing twice, or more. The smaller landing zone makes it more likely that waste will stick to the sides, requiring annoying brush work and yet another flush. I think it's reasonable to doubt whether any water has been saved, and to ask if it's possible that more water is used now than before, in addition to annoying people. I've taken many flow restrictors out of shower heads, and out of public faucets when I can. Those faucet restrictors may save water, because using them is so annoying more people will skip washing their hands. Switch the handles for a semi-reliable motion sensor and replace paper towels with a noisy electric blower and we're back in the John Snow era.

wasoxygen  ·  134 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Insurance companies in NYC deny coverage to buildings with subsidized tenants

What do you think is going on?

Do you suggest that insurance companies are refusing to issue policies on subsidized housing which they believe would be just as profitable as policies issued to non-subsidized housing?

wasoxygen  ·  135 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Insurance companies in NYC deny coverage to buildings with subsidized tenants

    deafening silence

There's a statement from an insurance industry representative in the article.

It sounds to me that insurance companies have learned that some customers tend to receive more benefits in claims payouts than others. In order to make money on a policy, the companies try to limit the number of the more expensive insured parties they are willing to cover.

Is it plausible that buildings with more subsidized housing will have more costly claims? I imagine these buildings are more likely to be located in neighborhoods with relatively higher crime, and perhaps slower emergency response. Tenants receiving subsidies might be less likely to change batteries in smoke detectors or purchase more reliable appliances. Managers of buildings with more subsidized housing might be less responsible about safety maintenance.

On the other hand, wealthier tenants might have higher claims as well, because they own more valuable property. If the insurance company could "discriminate" to identify buildings that have more tenants with expensive stereos, or valuable artwork, they could charge higher premiums or decline to offer insurance to them as well. I expect they use location as a proxy for these factors.

Student housing is included in the 25% limit. The article suggests this is because it is "transient" like a bed and breakfast. That doesn't make much sense, a student is likely to stay six months to a year like many other rental tenants. I suspect that student housing is likely to lead to more claims.

Gary Becker argued that discrimination is costly to firms. If a firm seeks solely to maximize profits, it can't afford to indulge in discrimination against factors that do not affect the bottom line. A firm that passes on profitable opportunities in order to indulge a prejudice will be less competitive.

wasoxygen  ·  141 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Everything I, an Italian, thought I knew about Italian food is wrong

That phrase has been on money since the Civil War era.

wasoxygen  ·  142 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: July 19, 2023

100 miles in Crocs.

100 miles. In Crocs.

wasoxygen  ·  147 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: July 12, 2023

Yep, dirt and decay are minor nuisances, vermin can be a headache, but water is the enemy. I give about 1% of my attention to the sump pump. I don’t trust the float switch, so I put a security camera in there and manually run the pump when the water gets high, and monitor it while on vacation.

Supply hoses for the washing machine get one day closer to failure every 24 hours.

Good luck with the roof! Tending to Maslow Level 1 issues is a good way to satisfy higher-level needs.

wasoxygen  ·  147 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: July 12, 2023

wasoxygen  ·  158 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Douglas Hofstadter changes his mind on Deep Learning & AI risk