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Journal: This should be one of those "I told you so" moments...

Journal by Timex

...but I won't say it, even though I'd be justified in doing so.

I was just looking through the beta for Slashdot (which I don't like, by the way) and saw a "Hall of Fame" page. I looked at it and this was one of the most popular stories of all time. It was posted when Obama was elected the first time.

It's kind of depressing, in that people were saying that Obama would not change all the things he promised he would, and the lemmings tried to shout them down. I said "depressing" because so many people, all of whom should really have known better, bought into the ideals that Obama sold to them. They honestly believed (and I daresay still believe, even now) that Obama would have the power to bring about all the changes he promised.

Well, it's been six years in. I think I am safe in stating that none of his promises have been kept-- none of them that were of any substance, anyway.

I can only hope that the process that we have in place will work as it should, and Obama will not see the end of the current term. He can't complain: he has his phone, he has a pen, and he knows how to use them.

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Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Sixteen 2

Journal by mcgrew

Pressure
        When I woke up, all my muscles were on fire. We would have had to turn the ship around today, and in fact that's what was scheduled, except for the meteors and the drama that followed.
        Destiny was sleeping peacefully. I got up, thankful that we weren't at Earth gravity but wishing we had turned around for deceleration then, because they have it plotted so that you start the journey close to the planet you're leaving's gravity, and reach your destination close to that planet's gravity. We were at half Earth gravity now and it would gradually be lowering to Mars' gravity.
        The girls didn't like half Earth gravity, they were going to hate Mars. I guess these girls were being well paid or something, they sure were paying me good. Except that from what I'd learned about these women they probably just promised free drops. Drops were the addicts' only motivation, only goal, only thing that mattered to them.
        God but my muscles were all on fire. I sat down on the couch and had the robot make a cup of shitty coffee, my legs hurt. I had it bring me water and Naproxin and drank the lousy coffee. Yech. Why can't they program those damned things to make drinkable coffee? I should have went to college and learned programming.
        I only drank half of the nasty brew and hauled myself painfully to the shower. A hot shower would do wonders for my aching muscles.
        The hot water felt as good as the coffee had tasted bad. I took a really long one. It helped ease the pain, and the pill had started working some, too.
        I took one sip of the remaining cold, nasty coffee and started a pot. Damned stupid robots.
        I was just pouring a cup when Destiny came in. "John!" she said. "You look like hell!"
        "I feel like hell. All that damned climbing yesterday nearly killed me. And I still have to check the instruments and inspect the boat."
        "You did inspection yesterday. I thought inspections were weekly?"
        "Yeah, normally, but yesterday wasn't the least bit normal. I have to inspect that busted generator since it would have cooled enough by now, and the other one, too, since it's working harder now that there's only one."
        "Poor baby!"
        "Well, at least I don't have to inspect cargo today. Want to watch a movie later?"
        "Sure. Isn't it almost time to check your instrumentation?"
        "Yeah, it is." I kissed her. "See you in a while."
        I went towards the pilot room, which was really just outside my quarters. Yesterday I'd been wishing for a bicycle, today I was wishing for a cane.
        All the readouts were normal except one ï½ air pressure in the port generator was twenty kilopascal low. That wasn't a good sign at all, I was going to need a suit and tether in case a bulkhead blew while I was in there.
        I noted the log and stopped by our cabin... heh, "our cabin," how about that? Anyway I stopped to fill a bug mug and summon a medic.
        Medics are robots that look kind of like narrow tables with padded tops and appendages to measure bodily functions and administer medicine. Planetside they called them "gurneys" but everything is named different on a boat. Like port and starboard.
        I sat on the medic and ordered it to the port generator and got another robot on the fone to fetch the suit from the starboard hold where Destiny had gone out the airlock.
        After I'd suited up and tethered, the difference in pressure made it hard to get the hatch open. I tried a crowbar and couldn't even make it hiss. So I lowered the pressure where I was and the door popped open by itself. I took a floater with me to hunt for the leak.
        A floater is just a small balloon filled with helium with a small counterweight to make it gravity neutral. It goes where the air goes.
        I found where the air was escaping and patched it. Why can't they program robots to do that? Stupid robots, they could act as maids and medical doctors and all sorts of other functions but the damned things can't patch a hole or make a decent cup of coffee. At least they're cheap.
        The pressure was slowly rising so I sat on the medic and waited until it matched the rest of the ship so I could get out of the room. I hadn't needed the suit, but left it on just to keep my ears from popping.
        The gauge said pressure was normal so I tried the hatch. It opened easy, so I took off the suit and gave it to a robot and rode the medic back to my rooms.
        I was dying of thirst, even after downing that big glass of water when I took the naproxin. I said something to Destiny about it when I got back, taking another pill and drinking more water.
        She laughed. "You're dehydrated, dummy. You told me yesterday you thought you were going to drown in your suit from sweating. You probably need electrolytes, too."
        "And I'm hungry, I just didn't feel like eating when I got up. You hungry?"
        "I could eat. Robot eggs okay or do you want me to cook?"
        "No, robots cook okay as long as it doesn't involve coffee. How do you want your eggs?"
        "Ham and cheese omelette is okay, maybe with some hash browns."
        "Okay. Robot, a ham and cheese omelet, a Denver omelette, two hash browns and toast. No coffee!"
        Them damn robots suck at coffee, and they can't patch a hole at all. I'm glad they can cook.

Continues

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Journal: As long as we're quoting McArdle 7

Journal by smitty_one_each
We should note how wildly unimpressed she is with the new Census Bureau policy, which will add a little more sewage to the river of effluent that we know and love as ObamaCare.
Disgrace is the new pride, I suppose.
Ram_Digitstars isn't going to be happy until we get Single Prey-er, so hopefully this latest crap infusion helps him.
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Journal: Reality - Who Needs It? 20

Journal by damn_registrars
Yesterday's bait for the conservative circle-jerk sure worked out well. At this point it's barely 30 hours old and approaching 900 comments. Hell, my comment pulled in 70 replies and a dizzying number of moderations.

Included in those replies, though, was a a genuine you-win-the-internet-with-that-hyperpolic-nonsense reply. Not that this kind of conservative nonsense is new here, but the enthusiasm with which it was shared - even this late in the discussion - was impressive. The new user behind this has written only around 2 dozen comments to date, the oldest dating to last August.

I will say though, he made me laugh so hard at his nonsense that I felt compelled to reply. So I guess he trolled me fairly well.
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Journal: Obamacare is Not a Single-Payer Conspiracy [Bloomberg] 24

Journal by damn_registrars
Even columnists at conservative news sources are coming to realize it. This is from the same woman who wrote that Vermont's single payer aspirations would be terrible for taxpayers.

If Obamacare's insurance reforms break the market, that calculus still won't change: Most people will still have insurance they like, and they will not be willing to give it up in order to solve problems in the individual market -- which now covers about 5 percent of the population and is expected to ultimately cover something over that. Even if the individual market functionally disappears, most people will still be covered, and most politicians will be unwilling to endorse a program that takes away what they have. There is no path to single payer from even a spectacular Obamacare implosion -- for the same reason that there was no path to single payer before Obamacare was passed.

...

Ironically, single payer seems much more plausible if the system succeeds. One possible path along which the health-care law could develop is that more and more employers dump folks onto the exchanges, breaking the link between employment and insurance for millions of Americans. If that happens but other problems remain -- such as rising premiums -- then you can imagine a series of reforms that ultimately leads to single payer, probably starting with a public option. Employers would probably still provide supplemental health insurance as a benefit, the way some do in the U.K., but it would be a relatively cheap add-on, not a huge portion of your compensation package.

So dash your hopes and allay your fears. An Obamacare failure would be bad in many ways, and it would mean significant changes for the insurance market. But we're not getting the National Health Service anytime soon.

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Journal: Lies, damned lies, and ... oh no, you're going there. 1

Journal by Daniel Dvorkin

[cranky rant warning]

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics." It's coming up again with depressing frequency, being used as an argument instead of a snide observation.

Okay, here's the thing. Can you lie with statistics? Sure. Statistics is a branch of mathematics*, and math is a language; you can lie in that language as easily as in any other. Does this mean all statistics are lies? No more than all statements in any language are lies--and if you believe that, you've gone so far down the rabbit hole of anti-intellectual mysticism that you'll probably never find your way out.

Meanwhile, in the real world, and in the ever-expanding torrent of data we have about that world, statistics as a discipline is pretty much the only hope we have of understanding anything. The low-hanging fruit has been picked. The equations we learn in Physics 101 are as valid as they ever were, but they're not nearly enough. No matter how certain you think you are, no matter how many times you repeat your experiment and get the same result, if you don't do the statistical tests you don't actually know whatever it is you think you know. And if you do the tests--well, you may still be wrong, but you can at least quantify your uncertainty. And you have to do that, because you can always be wrong.

None of this is meant to defend the misuse of statistics, any more than as a writer I'd defend the misuse of natural language. People can and do wilfully misinterpret statistics, or cherry-pick them, or just outright make them up, and those are bad things. Guess what? They do that with every other kind of statement too. At least half of statisticians' job is fact-checking, and it's a charge we gladly accept.

So the next time you're tempted to say "lies, damned lies, and statistics," or "figures don't lie but liars figure," or "correlation does not imply causation" or any of its variants, or post the umpteen-thousandth link to "How To Lie With Statistics," and think you're being clever--please, just stop. Because one thing I am so sure of that I don't even need to put a p-value on it is that if you feel the need to resort to any of those lazy, thought-free responses, you don't know enough about the issue at hand to have an informed opinion, and the best thing you can possibly do for yourself and everyone else is to keep quiet.

*Opinions vary on this issue, but if statistics isn't exactly a branch of mathematics, we can at least say that math is the language in which it's written.

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Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Fifteen

Journal by mcgrew

Cargo
        I started the long walk back to the pilot room wishing again for a bicycle or something.
        A robot wheeled past. Hell, I should just flag down a robot. But, of course there was a reason for not having transportation; I remembered the climb up the boat when the whores locked me out and how tiring it was. A body needs exercise and the most I was going to get on a boat with two-thirds gravity was walking.
        Destiny and Tammy were in the commons with a few other women; I say "women" because these were acting halfway civilized, despite their lack of clothing.
        "Done already?" Destiny asked.
        "No," I sighed. "Trouble. One of the generators blew out and we're off course again. I just saw you and thought I'd say 'hi', I can't stay. Too much damned work."
        "what do you have to do? How long will it take?"
        "I don't know. When I get us back on course I have to see what the robots are doing with the generator."
        "How bad is it?" Tammy asked. "How many generators are there?"
        "Only two. I wish this was an old tub, they originally had just one fission generator and got retrofitted with fusions. If our other generator dies it's batteries.
        "What then?"
        "We're late. But there isn't much chance of losing both generators. We'll be okay. But speaking of generators, I gotta go." I kissed Destiny and headed to the generator.
        It had cooled enough for the robots to go in to work, but was a bulkhead removed from where a human could tolerate it. I had two more engines I hadn't checked off so I inspected them. Of course, if there was anything wrong I'd have been clueless.
        The repair robots said the generator was shot.
        Shit.
        I walked past the commons to my quarters, Destiny and Tammy weren't in there although there were a few unclothed whores. Damn, ladies, put some pants on!
        Destiny and Tammy were in my living room drinking coffee. As I walked in, Destiny said "John, you're damned lucky Tammy's here."
        As I'd suspected. "You're supplying the drops," I said, sitting down.
        "Yeah."
        "The whores would have killed us without them."
        "Yeah."
        "How much you got?"
        "Plenty."
        "Enough to get to Mars?"
        "Don't worry. I know my chemistry, I know how much they need."
        I said "don't give any to the bitches in confinement."
        "You don't know what you're talking about. With drops they're harmless. Take them away, and well, it isn't pretty."
        I was confused. "What can they do locked up?"
        "They're liable to suicide."
        Crap. Losing cargo is a pretty bad thing.
        "Crap! Damn but I'm glad you're here. I'm going to suggest to the company that they send someone like you on all these runs."
        She laughed. "The company wouldn't want to spend the money necessary. The bean counters know how much loss is acceptable."
        Destiny said "I made coffee."
        "Thanks, but after the day I've had I want a beer."
        "I'm still trying to wake up," she said.
        "Yeah, you napped for a couple of hours after you went for a stroll outside. I would have thought the oxygen would have woke you up."
        "Actually it put me to sleep."
        Where the hell was that robot with my beer? "Robot! Beer, damn it, are you deaf?" A robot rolled over with my beer. I'm glad this boat has the older robots. The newer ones talk, and it's annoying as hell. If I want output from the computer I'll use my fone or tablet.
        Tammy said she had whores to study and excused herself. The robots made dinner and we watched some really dumb old movie from a couple hundred years ago, laughing all the way through it although they say when it was made, it was meant to be serious.
        Then we went to bed. I hoped tomorrow would be less stressful. My muscles all ached from the walking and climbing, I was going to be in pain the next day.

To Be Continued...

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Journal: The third time wasn't a charm.

Journal by mcgrew

I've hardly logged on to the internet at all this past week, too busy correcting a mistake software houses frequently do: Trying to rush a project out the door. The fact is, I'm tired of The Paxil Diaries, but I don't want to ship a flawed piece of crap.

The first copy had a messed up cover; my printer's "cover generation wizard" has an interface almost as bad as GIMP. I fixed it and ordered a corrected copy, and a day later as I was converting the .odt to .html I discovered that some of the chapter numbers were wrong and there were no page numbers. I fixed it, resubmitted it and thought "This time it'll be right."

Number three showed up bright and early Thursday morning. I started going over it with a fine toothed comb. Almost halfway through and I started to think I'd be able to release it. The weather got really nice so I decided to read it in Felber's beer garden.

I discovered I was far better at proofreading when I've had a few beers than sober. When I'm sober what the words are saying distracts me from the words themselves, and I read too fast and miss errors.

It was full of errors, many of them whoppers. I marked them drinking, and finished correcting this morning while sober and sent for copy #4. It may be available in a couple of weeks depending on if I find more errors when it comes. I'll upload the book's HTML and PDF versions as soon as I decide I can release it.

Meanwhile, I can get back to Mars, Ho! this week.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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