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hubskier for: 3063 days

recent comments, posts, and shares:
wasoxygen  ·  11 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The recession is knocking on our door at this point, isn't it?

wasoxygen  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 11, 2020

Agreed, it's not necessarily true that every person with Covid-19 will suffer more than every person with seasonal flu (many of who might also be asymptomatic). The seasonal flu is already bad enough to be worth avoiding, and the higher risk of fatality, and the risk of communicating to vulnerable people, argue against casually considering this new bug just another kind of flu.

wasoxygen  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Coronavirus: COVID-19 Is Now Officially A Pandemic


wasoxygen  ·  16 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: March 11, 2020

It could be a mild cold, so continue to practice defensive hygiene and avoid close contact with others. If you can stay home, that’s the most effective way to avoid transmission.

No one should seek early exposure to the virus. Even under dire forecasts, a sizable fraction of the population will avoid getting sick. A virus that is perhaps ten times deadlier than the seasonal flu will have more severe symptoms than the seasonal flu.

But if you do need medical care, its good that it is relatively early. Things are going to be messy in April and May.

Here’s an interview with a recovered patient that outlines his symptoms as his infection progressed.

He is in isolation but looks healthy, is exercising and painting and studying Russian. Prepare for a few weeks of recovery, make sure bills are paid. Try to stay positive and practice gratitude. Recovery rates are around 99%, and reinfection appears to be rare.

Take care of yourself, try to eat and sleep well. We will all OD on information, so take offline breaks. Be well, best wishes and please let us know how you fare.

wasoxygen  ·  23 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Amy Klobuchar will end 2020 presidential campaign and endorse Joe Biden

    In 1944, the top rate peaked at 94 percent on taxable income over $200,000 ($2.5 million in today’s dollars). That’s a high tax rate.

It sounds like a high rate, but it wasn't the effective rate. The Individual Income Tax Act of 1944 PDF specified a tax of $156,820 for net income of $200,000 (78.41%) and 91% for excess over $200,000.

It also set an overall limit: "The tax imposed by this section and section 11, computed without regard to the credits provided in sections 31, 32 and 35, shall in no event exceed in the aggregate 90 per centum of the net income of the taxpayer for the taxable year."

The rate alone doesn't explain much without looking at the exemptions. For example, parents did not have to count income received as a result of their working children. Of more interest to the oligarchs, trade and business deductions, work-related travel and lodging expenses, rent and royalties deductions, depreciation and depletion, losses from sales or exchange, charitable contributions, medical expenses, capital losses all provided opportunities to reduce the amount of net income exposed to the tax rate.

Collections are also dependent on enforcement. I doubt that the tax-avoidance schemes we hear about today are much more effective than those used in the past.

wasoxygen  ·  38 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Hubski Craft Fair v2.5 - February 14, 2020

Home improvement

"The basement is leaking!" This announcement from below got my attention and meant no ping pong session that evening. The dishwasher appeared to be the source, and I discovered the most common dishwasher installation defect. A piece of string took care of the missing high loop, but the sink has always been slow to drain and this provided the backup which flooded the dishwasher.

A 25-foot snake can be had for less than a dollar a foot now. I had tried before with a toilet auger (going through the trap, in case that is less gross) but found nothing. The longer snake hit a snag some twenty feet in, and pulled up a pasty white material which looked like undissolved detergent. It was nasty, and my first instinct was to clean the barb by rinsing it off in another sink.

That's not much of a home improvement, just trying to keep the place from destroying itself. The painting job is about half done, removing wallpaper and chair rail scars being the biggest efforts. Upgraded baseboard will require a mitre saw, and I'm unsure between renting and buying a good saw.


TensorFlow installation got bogged down in some kind of dependency hell. You google the error message and find ten ways to fix it, try and figure out which one is least likely to cause further problems and eventually try one at random and get a new error.

While messing with the Raspberry Pi, I remembered the Pi-hole project. I've rarely used adblocking software, figuring the ads are a kind of tax on browsing, annoying little reminders that I could be reading a book. But it was so fun, and so easy to set up, and so satisfying to have this pocket-sized server filtering DNS for the whole house, and so interesting to see all the blocked lookups. I haven't mentioned the change, to see if anyone notices.


I got into a debate with a daytrading friend about the possibility of profit. I've seen some smart friends try to get ahead and not conspicuously succeed, and my gut feeling is that there is too much noise to allow any short-term signal to be recognized. Long term buy-and-hold is a proven technique, and in my view short term trades only work in a cumulative fashion by exposing the trader to the very long term 1.83% per year average per capita GDP growth in the U.S. (and transaciton costs plus capital gains taxes could easily consume this profit).

An interesting conclusion is that I would not worry about the "emotional" investor who breaks the rules by selling low in a panic, or buys high with FOMO. There's a narrative showing these are mistakes if you look for it, but there is an equally plausible narrative that the seller avoided greater losses and the buyer got in while a winner was rising. If emotional investors predictably lost value, you could win by betting against them.

I proposed a challenge in which I would simulate trades in a dartboard portfolio, selecting stocks at random from a list of most active stocks. At first I updated my positions once a week, but this was too arbitrary and mechanical. Things got more exciting when I set up a portfolio containing $1000 each of five randomly selected stocks and simulated limit orders by selling as soon as I became aware that any position had gained 2.5%, recording the 2.5% profit and rolling the returns into whatever stock was then most active. This is a brainless strategy and not recommended, but should be possible in practice.

After two days the paper portfolio was up 2%, with five sells (a 380% APR!). By the end of the week the portfolio was flat again, at $5004.

Despite my Google Apps script sending me an e-mail within ten minutes of a sell condition, my reaction time causes lags, so when SPCE rocketed from $32.17 to $38.67 today (up 20%), I only got two round trip sales out of it. But it doesn't matter! At any point in time, future performance is unpredictable, so there's no reason to prefer getting in earlier or later. The SPCE position is now down 8%, worth $1010, and the portfolio is down 0.9%.

One simulated portfolio is too insignificant to prove anything. For more data, you could test strategies against past performance, but you can't trade in the past so that seems pointless. My expectation is that all five positions will eventually be too far underwater to recover quickly, and the strategy will revert to long-term buy-and-hold, which actually works.

Peanuts and crows

I have drawn the attention of many crows, and one Metro maintenance van, while hiding peanuts in various niches of the parking garage top deck. One difficult hiding place is regularly emptied between visits.

On one occasion I had the opportunity to experience a bird in the hand while trying to rescue two young birds that got trapped in a stairwell.


At 11:45 Saturday morning I parked our 2006.5 Kia Optima on the street, then went inside to get the kid ready for a class. At 11:46 a neighbor drove his Volvo 850 into the Kia, destroying the driver side wheels and door. Nobody hurt, but the tow driver and insurance agent agreed that it appears to be totaled.

Cultural studies

We have gotten pretty good at yogurt in the Instat Pot, and haven't had to use store yogurt as starter for weeks. The weekly loaf of sandwich bread in the Pullman pan is still irregular. Sometimes the dough rises so much it overflows the pan, other times it is sticky and low-volume. Assuming I am correctly counting four cups of flour (which is far from certain) I try to pay attention to ambient temperature, milk temperature, rest timing, and quantity of sugar (using maple syrup, which is too messy to measure).

When there is overflow, the extra becomes rolls or pretzels or, this week, cinnamon buns which turned out much better than the loaf itself.

wasoxygen  ·  52 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski, February 5, 2020

“Who the hell cares about the budget?”

wasoxygen  ·  58 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Hubski Craft Fair v2.0 - January 29, 2020

Thanks kingmudsy for making the space! I rarely finish even half the projects I start, but starting is the fun part, so here's a status report.

Resisting the Irresistible

Status: complete

The "best by" date for the Milano cookies arrived on Sunday, January 12. The previous Friday afternoon, I decided that it wasn't necessary to wait for the cookies to expire to prove my resistance. I did manage to leave some cookies for Monday.

Dopamine fasting might be taking things too far, but I can appreciate the idea of making conscious decisions to maximize enjoyment of treats, rather than indulging and overindulging whenever fancy strikes.

During the cookie incubation period I stopped adding sweetener to my coffee. It took a couple days to adjust, and now I prefer it black. It's been a while since I've had a cola, too, but I did enjoy those cookies.


Status: in progress

The top level of the parking garage at the metro station is deserted in the morning, so I have been climbing the stairs most weekdays and tossing peanuts around. Sometimes I draw a crowd, but usually the crows keep their distance and wait for me to go away. I hide peanuts while they are watching, and so far only one difficult hiding place, inside a standpipe, has kept a peanut safe.

Also experimenting with a motion-activated camera at home, looking for ways to discriminate between crows, blue jays and squirrels. 

bonus: additional effort to be smarter than other animals

    Ayumu has been a participant since infancy in the Ai Project, an ongoing research effort aimed at understanding chimpanzee cognition

Ayumu is a genius.

Since I am an average dumb primate, I spent some time trying to recreate Ayumu's training program before realizing that someone else must have done it. There's a great iOS app and a variety for Android. Finding out that there is a level 7 was one of the great moments in life. (I have three stars up to level 4.3.)


Rubik's Cube

Status: adequate

There's been an unsolved cube floating around the house as long as I can remember. I could always solve one side, and some of the second layer, but after that it was hopeless. I supposed continuing was the same, using intuition and strategy to make progress toward the goal. It's not like that at all, at least for an amateur like me. The day the cookies expired I looked up the solving guide and spent an hour or so learning the notation and following the algorithms. It's all mechanical brute-force after the first layer, using a six-step algorithm to position each edge piece in the middle layer, then a six-step algorithm to get edge pieces to the top, then a six-step algorithm to arrange the top edge pieces, then eight steps to move the top corners around, then many repetitions of a four-step pattern to orient the corners.

It's completely thoughtless and mechanical, at least using these basic techniques. My best time is four minutes, but getting a record time depends on getting lucky so you can skip some steps. It's fun when your muscles memorize the patterns and you can watch your hands manipulate the cube, but when something goes wrong it can be hard to correct. I most often make the correct rotation but in the wrong direction, especially when using my left hand. The kid insisted on getting a "speed cube" and is almost down to three minutes.



Status: initial research

I don't eat blue food. As a justification to work on some coding with the kid, we plan to build a robot that will separate blue M&M candies from the edible ones. Last night we connected the $8 camera accessory to the Raspberry Pi and got it to take some images using the Python PiCamera library. While aiming the camera around on its short ribbon cable, I accidentally touched the bottom of the camera circuit board to the pins of the Pi and caused the whole thing to reboot. 

The plan is to build some kind of hopper and connect it to a motorized arm that will guide M&Ms into position one by one. The camera will take a photo of each one. We will manually code the photos by color, then train a TensorFlow instance on the image set with color data. Finally we will get TensorFlow to identify the color of incoming M&Ms, kicking blues into the trash and good ones into a bowl. We might throw some coins and buttons in there too.


Pen & ink

Status: ongoing

cW pioneered the eVox, a digital voice recording that you send to a friend.

We exchanged many, considering the merits of various forms of communication: written versus oral, immediate versus deferred, digital versus tangible.

He is now promoting a new format, unnamed as far as I can tell. You write a letter on paper, photograph it, and send the digital image. You end up with two handy backup copies. My preliminary efforts were simple

but cW was kind enough to send a Jinhao x450 with a refillable cartridge as encouragement. 

I am a bit clumsy with the cartridges, and found that I could dip the nib into the ink bottle and comfortably get several sentences down between dips.



Status: always behind

A guy at work showed me the app he created for his iPhone which wasn't on the App Store. He was having some trouble with notifications but otherwise it was working well. When he described the installation procedure, I told him it was nice but really just a bookmark to his web site saved to the home screen. He pointed out that his app didn't run as a tab in Safari, there was no sign of the browser, and it worked offline. I was surprised that Apple would allow this workaround to the lucrative App Store, and even more surprised to learn that Apple is promoting progressive web apps.

I have made but little progress in experimenting, but love the philosophy, that rather than scaling down your full-featured application to include users on smaller and older devices, you start with a minimal feature set that everyone can use, and optionally add features for users that can support them.

Is anyone still working on a Hubski app?


Home improvement

Status: neverending

Like a sucker, I bought the recommended wallpaper removal spray and perforating roller. The spray burned my eyes and the bottle trigger jammed before the bottle was half empty. I experimented with water and found that it worked just as well, and even better if you refrained from perforating the wallpaper, so it peels without tearing. My method was to spray the wall with water and adhere half-sheets of newspaper from top to bottom. Keep each sheet of wallpaper very wet as you continue papering with more newspaper. When the wallpaper has soaked for ten minutes, slowly peel it from the top. I could usually get the outer vinyl layer off as one sheet, and the inner layer was water-absorbent and easy to remove after more soaking. Sometimes both layers peeled off together. Might not work for every kind of wallpaper and wall surface, but ended up being fun when progress was slow and steady rather than tearing off millions of little bits one by one.

Had to buy replacement batteries for my eight-year-old DeWalt drill. I almost bought a Hole Hawg for $30 at Second Chance in Baltimore after our Amazon tour. It just seemed like more drill than I could ever use, but now that it takes half an hour to hang a towel hook I bet I could manage.

The TV antenna is still going strong in the attic, but the WiFi tuner is flaky. There is coax in the walls, but it would be a challenge to map it out in time for the Superbowl or Oscars.

wasoxygen  ·  85 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: $70,000 minimum wage update

Update on the Boise office:

CEO stuns employees with immediate $10K raise, pledges a $30K raise over the next 5 years

    Employees at an Idaho business got the news of a lifetime this week. Workers making $40,000 -- the company's current minimum salary -- would get an immediate $10,000 raise and that within five years, the minimum salary would increase to $70,000.

    Gravity Payments, a Seattle-based credit card processing company, recently acquired ChargeItPro in Eagle, Idaho, and the group moved into a new office space. Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price flew in to welcome employees to the new office -- and then stunned them with the news that many of the employees would get a $10,000 pay bump effective immediately and the minimum salary for employees would rise to $70,000 by 2024.

    A majority of the employees were making under $30,000 prior to the acquisition, according to Price.

While checking the About page a bot asked me if I was interested in eliminating hidden fees. When I ignored it for a while, a human took over to ask if I had any questions. I asked about the minimum wage, and was told that it might vary by location (mentioning Boise in particular) but asked not to be quoted since the human doesn't work in HR.

So employees at headquarters in Seattle (median household income $93,500 in 2018; can't find data for individuals) may receive the $70K minimum, while branch offices may not, which could explain the removal of the number from the web page as the company expanded.

In 2024 we can check to see how $70K is working out in Boise, where the median household income is $56,275.

wasoxygen  ·  87 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Got any New Year's resolutions, Hubski?

I want to see Andromeda and give a peanut to a crow.

wasoxygen  ·  87 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: HAPPY NEW YEAR HUBSKIIII

Happy New Year!

We are home-bound but midnight is catching up. The captain announced a fog delay of up to two hours and half the passengers groaned. Then they announced the delay in Portuguese and the other half groaned. Now we are delayed in JFK with mechanical problems but should be home by 2020.

wasoxygen  ·  93 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 25, 2019

Feliz Natal do Porto!

Thanks to veen and elizabeth for recommending this destination.

wasoxygen  ·  95 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: "Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors

An unsigned essay titled "Responses to questions from readers" appeared on a new WordPress site:


It was announced by an anonymous account.

The response essay is just as scientificish as the book, appearing to express appreciation for the criticism but dodging the actual complaints.

    The book’s misattribution of the CDC statement to the WHO will be corrected in the next edition.

wasoxygen  ·  116 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: A guide to minced oaths

“Deuced odd, thought I, that I should find her prettiness so fascinating; as though, forsooth, she was the first sweet girl I had ever seen!”

An Ocean Tragedy, William Clark Russell

Seems he might have missed some.

wasoxygen  ·  121 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: November 27, 2019

Magpies, minarets, Roma, and cats all over. Holiday getaway where Thanksgiving is not observed but stores promote Mega Cuma discounts on Friday.

Ate brain for the first time, challenged by a friend to try söğüş. Not intolerable while I could avoid thinking about the ingredients, which also included (lamb) cheek, tongue, and “eye edges.”

Staying up nights with jet lag reading Ureneck’s book about the burning of Smyrna. Puts the challenge of eating gross food in perspective.

Edit: backup images; imgz trial to end Dec 27.

wasoxygen  ·  129 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: "Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors

That’s more than I was able to find after a lot of digging.

wasoxygen  ·  131 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: "Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors

It does seem like a narrow application, though 7.1% of U.S. adults is a lot of people, and sleep trouble is the first of five symptoms mentioned.

Even if it is a gotcha, Walker walked into it with his confident language claiming that "thousands of studies insist that no, there aren’t" "any biological functions that do not benefit by a good night’s sleep."

This is not the careful language that befits a scientist, certainly not a "Sleep Scientist at Google" as Walker styles himself.

Aside: In June 2018, Walker's Wikipedia entry described his work for Verily Life Sciences, an Alphabet subsidiary. In July 2018, a user named Remdreamer changed the name to "Google Life Sciences (Verily)", and changed the heading from "Verily" to "Google". Since 2015 the Verily article used the description "Verily (formerly 'Google Life Sciences')." The word "Google" does not appear on the Verily home page — nor, for that matter, can I find Walker mentioned on the team page or in the blog. Remdreamer has edited no other articles.

wasoxygen  ·  131 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: "Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors

I like the thorough approach, but I wonder if the big points get lost while providing so many small details for detractors to cling to.

Guzey quotes Walker claiming "Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer" without providing evidence.

Guzey also points out that Walker misspelled the name of the publisher of the Encyclopedia of Sleep.

These are both errors, and both are relevant to the argument that Walker is careless and unreliable, but they are not equally important.

Among many comments (with no word from Walker after two days) I have seen only one substantial critical response. Kinkajoe repeats Guzey's point about sleep-releated health studies showing only correlations, while also citing studies showing correlations e.g. between low sleep and obesity. Kinkajoe also neglects to mention the cancer quote, which is Guzey's very first example of an extraordinary claim.

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