Gliders in World War II

Gliders in World War II

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Unclogging a toilet

This procedure for unclogging a toilet worked for me. It involves pouring in hot water and dish soap. It seems risky, but there have been no apparent problems. After pouring in the hot water it might be good to wait half an hour or so before flushing, to avoid the stress of a sudden temperature change.

Well, one problem: putting the plunger in the hot water caused the rubber cup to shrink and distort, so the plunger is now useless.

Homeostasis

From the graphs here it looks like alcohol-related deaths have gone up every year since 2009. The linked author, Spottedtoad” wonders

“if physiologically, Americans are, due to interactions with other drugs compromising their livers and obesity, greater inactivity and general ill-health, less able to metabolize alcohol. To go back to Winston Churchill, perhaps whiskey and cigars were a more sustainable combination than the whiskey and prozac, whiskey and oxycodone, and whiskey and adderall combinations we subsidize now.” — Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?

It’s a good not-too-long read with a lot of data.

Google’s moral imperatives

What are they?

Airbnb canceled the accounts of people Nazis attending the recent rally in Charlotte. Twitter and Facebook regularly shut down the accounts of the more odious haters. Will Google do less? They scan users’ email to identify people interested in, say, Ford trucks; surely they can scan to spot white supremacists.

Current law might not let them publish contact information and probable employers (though they might be able to share information with selected NGOs); but it does seem like Google would feel obliged at least to close the accounts of people whose email or blogging clearly shows they are white supremacists, racists, misogynists, homophobes, Islamophobes, or transphobes. Twitter can do that, and does. Fascists, white supremacists, and Nazis shouldn’t be allowed to legitimize their hate with a gmail address or Blogger account. Isn’t Google, famously not evil, obliged to use at a minimum all legal means to resist evil?

Until we know more clearly what Google sees as their moral obligations, it might be better to look elsewhere for web searches and email.

UPDATE 19 August 2017: ProPublica, Working with Google to ‘Document Hate,’ Threatens Conservative Bloggers. The perenial challange of satire is to stay ahead of reality.

Three links

Making versus hacking

“Some projects are started purely to get the project done. That sounds simple enough, and of course there are many steps along the way from idea to finished work, but the prototypical Maker-mode project can be planned out in detail from the start, accomplished with ‘normal’ tools using skills that you’ve already got, and not a place for yak shaving. For these projects, the biggest obstacle to success is just doing it.”

“Hacker-mode projects are a lot fuzzier from the start. A hacker mode project often starts out with a new piece of gear, and a vague idea that it can be made to do something interesting.” — Yak Shaving: Hacker Mode vs Maker Mode, by Elliot Williams

Scott Adams on persuasion

“Take a look at what Clinton did to change her message. It changed from, ‘Hey, I’m experienced and he’s not — which is not terribly persuasive when people want the outsider anyway — and it went from, ‘Hey, he’s not such a good businessman,’ to, ‘He’s dark, he’s scary, he’s crazy, he’s mentally unstable, he’ll have the nuclear codes.'” — Trump, Dilbert, Wizards, Fear, and Testosterone — Rob Harvilla interviews Scott Adams

“Go ahead, throw your vote away”

“Some of us are persuaded that human acts need not be judged by their political impact.” I can never remember whether Kang is the racist and Kodos is the hitler, or if it’s the other way around.

The clock

This Is Ahmed Mohamed’s Clock.” The boy didn’t build a clock, he took a clock apart, wired it up, and then put it in a box. There is no way a reasonable person would think this was merely an innocent electronics project.

UPDATE 19 September 2015: Says Jerry Pournelle, “There was no reason to handcuff him, but we had that in Los Angeles 20 years ago: officers had discretion on handcuffing people, and got pummeled because they handcuffed more Blacks and Latinos than White, and the Department took the discretion away: now everybody gets handcuffed, even though the cops find it absurd in many cases. On the other hand, there are plenty of cases where it’s a wise precaution, so if it’s handcuff everyone or handcuff no one, it has to be everyone, absurdities or not. I suspect it’s that way in Texas, too. One of the joys of diversity.”