Author Archive for Random Randroid

A Randroidian Ballot

I voted yesterday and several things about the process depressed me.

Our polling place is the clubhouse of our country club, which is good in that it prevented me from having to mix with the common rabble of Boca. But I was saddened that while we likely faced a much shorter wait time than others, there was a lot more bitching. A poll worker confided to me: “You know, this year I worked 14 days of early voting all over the county, and I heard more complaints here today in the first hour than I heard the other 14 days combined.”

I was saddened that, after using electronic voting machines for the primaries, paper ballots were used. It’s like time is moving backwards. “Down with progess!” is the entire theme of this election. Perhaps in 2012, we shall all make our mark on a stone in our own blood.

I was saddened at the high turnout – estimated around 65%. Clearly, more than 35% of the populace has no business voting. An old man in line spoke of 50 years ago, when he registered to vote, he was made to read aloud from the Constitution. Them were the days. Certainly today, no one would be required to prove they were literate – and certainly not by reading from an anachronistic document such as the Constitution.

I was saddened that the ballots were in Spanish and English. I love the immigrant, but if you haven’t learned enough English to mark a ballot, you cannot acquire sufficient information to qualify you to vote. [PP adds- the canned English joke, pretty sad] I didn’t take it as hard as one of the other people in line, though, who sarcastically demanded to know why Creole and Portuguese were not available. [PP adds- well I guess it was an accurate description of the polling place- touché]

I did not vote for any candidates on the ballot, except for the great Bob Barr for President (I took heat from some people, including several in my own household, who view me as an Obama-enabler).

As for the state consitutional amendments…..

* I voted to bar the Legislature from regulating/prohibiting the ownership/inheritance/disposition/possession of real property by aliens ineligible for citizenship. A liberal or conservative would have had trouble with this one, having to balance their feelings about illegal immigrants with their feelings about property rights. Since I’m strongly in favor of both though, this was an easy one for me. But I lost.

* I voted against the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, since the passage of a “marriage=1man+1woman” deal would in effect mean state discrimination against homosexuals – and that’s something best left to the private sector. I lost this one too. I would have hoped that if I was going to have to suffer through Obama carrying my state, I would at least get the side benefit of his supporters defeating this one. But they stuffed me – people come to the Dems for the socialism, not the civil liberties.

* I voted in favor of three measures that would have made it harder for them to extract property taxes. Some of them were both pro-environment and anti-tax, so they were tough, but I voted Yes anyway. All three passed.

* I voted against allowing localities to levy additional taxes, on top of state taxes, to beef up community college funding. If the state did a good job providing K-12 education, the entire curricula of community colleges would be redundant. Hence the state cannot educate, hence they should be starved of funds. QED. The voters went with me on this one.

In summary, we Floridians don’t mind the heavy hand of the state, just don’t ask us to fund it.

At the local level, I was caught unprepared by a confusingly-worded County question. I should have left it blank – instead, I took a shot. I think it would make it easier to take power away from towns and cities and concentrate it in the county government. However, it was worded in such away that it made me think that the county could cut off public services to individual municipalities without voter consent, which caused me to vote Yes. I fell right into their hands. Damn.

I checked the tallies, and once again this year, in no case did my individual vote matter.

Tux Challenge Finale

See previous update for background. At today’s final weigh-in, I scored a 199.

To recap, my goal was to drop from 207.2 to 193.0. I lost only 58% of the desired weight (8.2 pounds out of 14.2), for a failing grade. If you take the theory by fish that the first five pounds are basically free, it’s even more of a failure.

Post-mortem:

Several self-fulfilling prophecies prevented me from achieving my goal. At the outset, I had an analytical argument with PP regarding the proper way to project future weight-loss. Since my method yielded a higher projection than his, and since I value defeating PP over all else, I sabotaged my efforts to ensure that I would be proven right. I also found that personality test that indicated my lack of follow-through, and after posting about it on this here blog, became invested in its accuracy.

Also killing me was a bar mitzvah menu on the night of 3/13 at a very good restaurant that I had never been to – thus my typical Thursday of “low-calorie dinner” + “tennis” was replaced with “gorging on awesome food and sampling every possible appetizer” + “sitting on ass”.

Still, there are some positives. I probably lost enough to squeeze into that tux after all and avoid a rental fee – we’ll see tonight. It also feels good to go to the scale and have a hope that the first digit you see will be a 1, whereas previously I just prayed the second digit wouldn’t. And I feel better at 199 than at 207, and it must be heart-healthier. And I did it all without succumbing to Big Oatmeal.

I learned much on this journey. I estimate there were nearly 1,000 calories per day that I didn’t eat in diet mode that I would have eaten in regular mode. That is just disgusting. I also learned that you can’t rely on exercise to lose weight – if you could, then I would have exercised and lost more instead of not exercising at all. 

Finally, I learned that with the support and love of the 3B community, marginal progress really can be achieved, whereas individual effort alone would have resulted in slightly less marginal progress – it turns out it really does take a village after all.

PP ADDS

fail.png

 

2008’s Best News Yet

LIke all libertarians/Randroids, I bitch a lot about the politicians. And I probably – ok, I definitely – spend too much time screaming at the TV set. But in my more rational moments, I believe that a great number of our elected and appointed officials view themselves as public servants who are sincerely trying to do their best for the country, state, or locality they represent – I merely disagree with them on an ideological level.

Others are more shades of grey – they are trying to serve the people, but also they are serving their own personal ambition, and sometimes they put that first when they shouldn’t. But we’re all human, and I try to be accepting and understanding of these people.

I think it is only a minority of them who are truly soul-less, power-mongering dirtbags with no redeeming qualities, and it is always great fun to read a story like this about them.

Now this may not be a popular post given the liberal skew of the 3B readership, but be honest and consistent with yourselves, dear readers. If you felt a little schaudenfraude kick in when Bill Bennett was discovered to have the gambling problem, then you have to love this one too.

UPDATE

Update to the Tux Challenge Quasi Live Blog

3/3/08 Update

Progress has hit a bit of a wall…..results recap….

2/21/08 207.2
2/22/08 207.2
2/23/08 206
2/25/08 205.4
2/27/08 204
2/28/08 204
2/29/08 204
3/1/08 201.8
3/2/08 202
3/3/08 202.2

On 2/29/08, I put in a damn impressive performance. Went to Houston’s, but had just a salmon and vegetables. No appetizers, no key lime pie dessert. Anyone who’s been to Houston’s knows what a difficult feat that is, especially if you really like food.

3/1/08 was also quite a departure from the norm, as I actually exercised.

Still, I’m not making great progress here. I was thrilled on 3/1/08, but after two days of going in the wrong direction I’m a little worried. I’ve lost 0.45 lbs/day, my lowest rate of progress since the start, and my required loss rate is now at 0.77, the highest rate – not good. My very simple two point exponential targeting model with a 165 floor now has me coming in at 197, 4 lbs over target. I’m scared of what PP’s more accurate models will show.

Another way to look at this is that I’m 47% of the way through the challenge, but have only lost 35% of the required weight.

I have 12 days left before 3/15, but time is really much shorter than that. The weekend is a killer, with tempting food all around, so 3/8 and 3/9 are no good. And my lack of follow-through will work against me in the home stretch, so I can’t count on a strong finish. So I damn well better lose the weight now. 3/3-3/7 is my window.

Given that I have lost exactly 5 pounds and seem to be stuck there, I really, really don’t like fish’s comments about the first 5 pounds of any diet being easy, artificial weight loss.

Best Personality Profile Ever

Many are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality testing thing, and many sites offer some variety of the test. But for my money (and the test is free), this is the best one.

Every site gives you the test and tells you a list of good jobs/careers for you. But here’s where it gets different.

Most sites tell you what an inspiring, passionate over-achiever you are, and how your enthusiasm and persuasivenes make you a natural team leader. They’ll throw in a few caveats – maybe you can be a little insensitive to others and that may hold you back a bit, but basically you’re fantastic and ready to set the world on fire. Basically, they tell you all the wonderful things about you, and all the great things you can achieve due to your outstanding qualities.

But not at careertest.net. They give you a couple nice words, followed by two solid paragraphs of blunt, harsh commentary on your weaknesses that will keep you from reaching your potential. It may not be for everyone, but as a “highly self-critical” INTP, I much preferred this approach to the usual fluff.  Pinko Punko is pretty darn self-critical – he may be an INTP as well!

Highly depressed individuals should not do this, but I encourage all other loyal readers to take the test (takes just a few minutes), read your profile, and report back to us on the results.

 

Tux Challenge Quasi-Live Blog

UPDATED BELOW

DOUBLE UPDATE- NEW DATA ANALYSIS AT BOTTOM- SEITZ SHOULD SEND US HIS DATA!

Can you live-blog a multi-week thing? And is it really a LiveBlog! if only edited 1-2 times per week? Can you start a LiveBlog! with events that happened several days ago? Well, I’m doing it. And no one can stop me. Ha ha ha ha ha. At 3Bulls, we change the rules to suit our needs.

Anyway, here we go…..

2/21/08

I was recently informed by wife that I have to attend this formal event 3/15/08. I’ll have to wear a tux.
The last time I wore a tux, I got married (3 years ago). I have not worn the tux since.

But I still own the tux. Financial genius that I am, I decided to buy the tux instead of rent it, so I wouldn’t have to waste money renting every time I needed a tux in the future.

The plan has worked out rather poorly. Making reasonable NPV-type assumptions to account for the time value of the extra money spent in 2005 to own vs. rent, and accounting for the decline of the dollar since 2005, I will have to wear the tux about 30 times per year for the next 65 years for that decision to pay off.
But that is in the past and hence a sunk cost. More potentially damaging is the psychological impact of not be able to wear the tux due to weight gain, as shown in the following chart:

2005 192.542 lbs (est)

Today 207.2 lbs (actual)

I probably could not wear the tux now. At 200 pounds, I could wear it, but it would hurt both pysically and psychologically. If I get to 193, I’ll be comfortable despite a weight gain of 0.478 pounds over 3 years. Let’s target 193.

The incentive value of this is great. Prior to now, I had been “trying to lose weight”, but it had been a half-ass effort at best. But there is no way I’m renting a tux and ruining my “hey, I should own this tux” idea – it’s time to go 3/4 ass and get this done.

I will have to lose approximately 14 pounds in 23 days. My weight has been extremely volatile in the past three years – not great news for my long-term health, but it does give me some hope in being able to shed the pounds.

I do like to eat, and I don’t much like exercise. So mustering the will power to get this done will be tough.

I have decided to post my progress on 3B. By doing so, I will open myself up to ridicule from the entire 3B community should I fail, thus providing extra incentive. (I am aware that I will also be riduculed by the entire 3B community if I succeed, but in that case I would feel the ridicule to be unjust so it will not bother me).


PP adds SCIENCE SHALL HELP US WITH VISUAL AIDS

DOUBLE UPDATE, EVEN BETTER- ALSO, STARTING TO LOOK NOT SO GOOD. I suggest baseline master and maybe sweatshirt jogging or Civ III on the treadmill. Or strike a deal with big oatmeal!

graph2.jpg

2/27/08 6:38 PM

Progress to date…

Target is 193 pounds by 3/15/08

Date Pounds Pounds to lose Days left Lbs lost per day Lbs to lose/day

2/21/08 207.2 14.2 23 n/a 0.62

2/22/08 207.2 14.2 22 0 0.65

2/23/08 206.0 13.0 21 0.6 0.62

2/25/08 205.4 12.4 19 0.45 0.65

2/27/08 204 11 17 0.53 0.65

Progress is in the right direction. However, since each pound is harder to lose than the last, I should be distressed that I have only lost 0.53 pounds per day so far, and I need to lose 0.65 pounds per day from now on to hit my goal.

My main vehicle for weight loss has been a three-pronged attack:

  1. Reduction of Starbucks beverage consumption (has been a financial windfall as well)
  2. Replacement of Coke with Diet Coke
  3. Verbally assault self upon any contemplation of excess snacking

To date, I have not resorted to the dreaded exercise, but it appears I may have to in order to meet the target.

The saddest experience is that I’m thinking, “Hey, 204, I’m looking pretty good here, I’m feeling better, this is great.” A decade ago I would have declared that anyone who allows his weight to get as high as 204 is a disgusting pig who should be shot.

UPDATE 2/27/08 9:27 PM

I arrived home to discover that while I stayed late at the office “working” (posting the above), my daughter had some sort of “birthday party” or something. I missed the whole thing – the family wasn’t happy with me, but I think of all the calories I would have consumed at said party had I attended – I’d be up to 210 by now. Another winning decision by RR.

Huge TY to PP for the visual aids. I now am even more depressed. You know, I feel like Ron Paul running for the GOP nomination. He started at about 0% in the polls, so gaining 0.6% per month is great, but he just never had enough months. If the primary season were 4 years long (maybe next time), he’d be fine. Similary, I’m in big danger of running out of days.

Since PP is using some kind of fancy science-y computer program to make these graphs, I’d like him to use a non-linear regression (non-linear since weight loss rate in pounds per day should decrease over time) to project where I will be on 3/15/08. Suggestion for exponential decay type model: If my lowest weight ever (at current height) was 165 pounds, we might say, for example, that at 207.2 I started with 42.2 “loseable” pounds, and was able to lose 7.1% of them in 6 days for 3.2 pounds lost – I now have 39 loseable pounds, and in the next 6 days I can only lose 7.1% of them, or 2.8 pounds, and so on. Right now, using exponential decay, (1-7.1%)^(1/6) = 98.8% —> I’m losing 1.2% of my “losable pounds” per day. One might say this is flawed since it implies that given infinite effort, I can never get to 165 again – but believe me, it’s true! PP is an analytic genius, so I trust he can make his program thing do this.

UC’s suggestion of targeting 200 lbs is reasonable, but since I tend to come up short on my goals, I need to set them a little more aggressively. I also love his story of gaining 14 pounds in a sitting, I’ve been there.

Seitz is a maniac. I’m scared to try his diet.

rr3.jpg

Eclipse LiveBlogging!

There is to be a full lunar eclipse tonight at 10pm ET. To our knowledge there has never a liveblog of an eclipse, so as is so often the case at 3B, we’ll be breaking new ground tonight……

7:43 PM  Discovered eclipse was happening tonight by reading AP article http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/space/02/20/lunar.eclipse.ap/index.html. Best line:

 —

Unlike solar eclipses, which require protective eyewear, lunar eclipses are safe to view with the naked eye.

9:05 PM   Stepped outside, found moon. It was in the sky. Lots of clouds too. 

9:14    Children/wife all asleep or nearly so. Must decide whether to wake them up for eclipse or let them sleep. Efforts to fire up family for previous eclipses have been met with stinging rebuke, so on this fairly cloudy night, probably best to not push too hard.

9:27   Wife wakes up from nap, learns of eclipse, shrugs.

10:00   Checked outside. Moon still there. Clouds too. So far eclipse is BS.

10:13   Coulds clear, lower left 3/8 of moon is enshadowed. Eclipse no longer BS.

10:16   Wife watching recently-dvr-ed Supernanny (9pm Wed, ABC). Wilson of Wilson-Phillips is celebrity family this week. Attempt to show wife eclipse. Takes much prodding to get her off couch.

10:18   Fight with wife over whether to wake the kids. RR loses.

10:21   Eclipse is total! Moon completely non-visible. Amazing. The stupid idiots in the mainstream media said the moon wouldn’t be totally covered and they were proven wrong again. Ha ha ha ha ha.

10:22 Damn, turns out it just a giant-ass cloud covering the moon. Guess it never disappeared completely after all. Sorry mainstream media – my bad for doubting you!

10:24    Resolve to tell kids eclipse was awesome, they totally missed out, and it’s 2 years till the next one. Also resolve to tell kids story of how Columbus leveraged an eclipse and his civilization’s higher level of rational thought and science to snooker mystical Indians out of fud (aka food).    http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20061007/mathtrek.asp

10:25   Reflect upon how lucky kids are to live in RR household.

10:26  Bitten by mosquito

10:27  Clouds clear out, moon about 3/4 shadowy. Orange-y Awesome.  Saturn visible. Despite recent LASIK surgery, I cannot see all of Saturn’s rings. Total BS.

10:30  It would be eerily dark outside right now were it not for my laptop. And Supernanny.

10:34  Looks like peak coverage. The entire left 7/8 of the moon is shadowy/orangy. You can see the whole moon, but only the 1/8 on the right is bright. If you didn’t know what was going on and just looked up quick, you’d at first think it was a farily new crescent moon. But only for a second. 

10:41  Very painful mosquito bite

10:45 The moon started to come back, then got shadowed again. WTF?

10:47  Mosquitos bite frequency and intensity increasing.

10:50  Eclipse only scheduled for one hour, but still going strong 50 minutes in. Maybe we’ll get more than we bargained for.

10:54   Read some awesome eclipse commentary on Ron Paul Forums http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php?p=1290632

10:57   Wife steps outside, says wow, eclipse is almost total. And she’s right. Somehow even less than 1/8 of the moon is visible. Yet the eclipse is supposed to be almost over. WTF??

11:00   I misread the article where is says the eclipse would last an hour. The total eclipse phase would last an hour, not the entire eclipse. So we’re still going strong.

11:02  The Earth’s rotation is killing me, as the moon is disappearing behind a plam tree leaf. Further viewing will require me to move my chair. Damn.

11:05 Let’s call it an eclipse. I’m not moving my chair, or standing up. And clouds are rolling in, and mosquitos are gettin’ me, plus it’s dropped down to nearly 66 degrees. I think we can safely assume that the moon will return.

11:13  Cloud clearance confirms that moon is indeed coming back. About 2/3 covered now. Random Randroid out.

 

Well, I know this wasn’t the best liveblogging effort ever, but I achieved my goal of being the first ever to liveblog an eclipse, plus this will help me meet my minimum posting requirements to remain a member in good standing of 3B.

 

Good night all, and please remember to vote for Ron Paul. rEVOLution 08!!

Values Voterama

[PP adds: You may have read about the values Voter Debate elsewhere, but 3B actually had a correspondent in the room- the Random Randroid!!!!] Continue reading ‘Values Voterama’

Message From RR

I logged on to partypoker.com to play and was informed by the site that since the US had just passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, the site would no longer allow me to play poker online.

I thank the government for finally protecting me. I was spending my time and money on an activity that was producing no revenue for the Treasury and they were right to put a stop to it.

But I shall thwart them. Their goal is to get me to take the time I would have spent playing online, and to use it on a tax-generating activity – say, by playing at an online casino with a crappier risk/reward ratio, or by doing work that produces income. They can forget it – I shall simply watch more tv.

I do question the wisdom of doing this at election time. There are 80-100K people online at partypoker.com at any given time, and I’d wager (if it were allowed) that 70% of them are from the U.S. There are 5 sites of approximately that size, plus a bunch of smaller sites, so a lot of people are having their access turned off and presumably being somewhat pissed about it. Granted, many of these people may not vote, but still.

If I Use Small Words, Will You Understand?

I’d like to go on a rant about the whole Dubai ports deal – the entire thing was pathetic. Remember when that was Massively Important story – for like 10 days?

Several things struck me about this. First, it pissed me off that it is no longer possible to get any actual news content. I was trying to learn about the issue, but all anyone was reporting on “Charles Schumer said x” and “the President isn’t even supported by his base on this” and all the politics of it, but nothing about what it actually was. You could go on the web to get info, but they don’t have news sites on the web, just blogs like this where people post there one-sided opinions.

Naturally, since no one could gather any actual information on this, they took a poll. They reported that like 85% of Americans were against it. That helped me form my opinion, since when majorities are that large they are usually wrong. (Does anyone remember how in 1990, 90% of Americans wanted a constitutional amendment banning flag burning? I thank the founders for making amendments near-impossible)

As for the political leadership, the GOP and Dems both were massively hypocritical. The liberals, the ones who say we are alienating all Muslims with our conduct in the War on Terror, said we don’t want any Arabs running our ports – they’re all bad, I mean look at those robes they wear. And the conservatives joined them. So many conservatives like to rant about how the Next Big Enemy is China – if they believe that, they’ve been awfully quiet about the Chinese government running some of our West Coast port operations. In short, neither side believed what they were saying – but that’s ok, because they put political points on the scoreboard.

As it turns out, there would have been no need to worry if Dubai ran the ports. And I’m not losing sleep over China running the ports – because once I was actually able to gather facts, I learned that it don’t matter to security. Besides, a recent CIA operation proved that you can already smuggle a dirty bomb into the country – so how much worse can it get?

President Bush called this one right, but he didn’t back up his promise to veto any Congressional action to stop the deal – I would have liked him to stick to his guns, but the massive popular resistance was too apparently much for the man who doesn’t listen to the polls.

Other observations:

*Tahoe commercial, a fine example of the market demanding and receiving.

* The UAE is one of these Arab countries that is trying to modernize and actually might go the right way – Dubai in particular seems to have a shot at being the economic capital of the Middle East. I think it’s great that we just gave them the finger.

* We’ve got a huge military investment in the UAE. If they are going to sabotage us, they can do it there. We should have no military operations in the Middle East, because (according to the ports logic) none of them Arabs can be trusted. All military operations should be launched out of the US mainland.

*At the end of the ports thing, a few Congress-people were trying to find a way to save the deal. One of these was Senator Oxley, who said “Congress is good at two things – doing nothing and over-reacting. We’re in over-reacting mode now.” I could have cried. It’s his name on the Sarbanes-Oxley law. This law said that Enron defrauded shareholders, therefore we are going to put massively costly regulation on EVERY publicly traded company. So we can trust this man when he talks about Congressional over-reaction (by the way, it would be an interesting news story if someone wrote about how fewer and fewer newly-public companies seem to be doing their IPOs on American exchanges – seems to have started dwindling earlier this decade, wonder why)

* If I were a politician accused of being anti-Arab here, I would have said “no we’re not being anti-Arab. Remember when the entire US Senate went ballistic a few months ago when China was going to buy that big US Oil company? See, it’s not anti-Arab at all, we’re just xenophobic in general. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past 20 years, it’s that free trade doesn’t work, so we’re shutting it down all over the place.”

As a digression, I might state here that my conservative friends like Nutter always have the need for the US to have the Big Enemy. Conservatives love to say that liberals hate the idea of the US being the only superpower, but that may be a form of projection. After the USSR went down (clearly a Big Enemy) and before China (arguably a future problem) and terrorism, conservatives like Nutter were lost, in full panic mode. There were like 10 years where there was no big threat. So who did Nutter and his conservative friends inform me was the Big Enemy at the time? That’s right – Japan. They were buying up all kinds of stuff in the US and they were dumping all those cheap cars (that actually worked) here and we’d all eventually be working for them. He may have advocated a pre-emptive nuclear strike, but I admit my memory is a bit fuzzy on that one. In any case, it is a desparate reach to declare that we will all eventually be enslaved by a country without a military, and it indicates the low bar the conservatives set for such things. “Oh look, their economy’s on a five-year hot streak – here they come!”