August 2015

Please stand by…

It’s been about two weeks since my last post; I haven’t given up on this blog, or forgotten about it. I’m sure that the approximately four of you who actually read it have been compulsively pressing F5, and been in for some disappointment. So, just wanted to let you folks know that I’m still here, and still intending to post. I’ve got a number of topics I intend to address soon, but time is my enemy, as it tends to be in these contexts.

Stay tuned.


Here is a kitten.

That time when “Making a Slide Show” involved the phrase “Open Powershell…”

If you don’t know what PowerShell is, you probably don’t need it, and never will.  But, I’m me.

I take you back to 2006. George W. Bush was halfway done doubling down in the White House, My Nissan Xterra was rolling off an assembly line, I was still in college, Netflix still mailed DVDs, Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” was earning him bank, along with Shakira’s apparently-honest hips. The iPhone was a mere rumor, Myspace was still the de facto social network, and everyone’s computer was running Windows XP…unless you were too cool for school and were either running a beta copy of Windows Vista or still riding on Windows 2000. It was in this year that Microsoft said, “Y’know what we need? A new way to administer a server on a command line!” “Great idea, Frank! Bonuses all around!” And thus, PowerShell was born.

The particular command run in PowerShell was:

for f in *; do ext=$(echo "$f" | sed 's|\([^.]*\)||'); mv "$f" "$(uuidgen)$ext"; done

What does that do? It allows me to randomly name all of the photos in a folder. This way, images are sufficiently shuffled in a slide show that I’m presently amidst producing.

…Because that is the exact use case that Microsoft had in mind when they made it…right?

First world problem

Today’s first world problem: being unable to place a to order via the Chipotle mobile app, because I’m not sure how long I’ll be on site where I am.

Things to be thankful for that my statement implies:
1. I have a job.
2. I have sufficient physical and mental faculties to have that job.
3. That job is making money.
4. I have enough money to buy food at Chipotle.
5. There is food at Chipotle for me to buy.
6. I have a phone, and a cellular carrier, and both are paid for.
7. I have a working vehicle to get me to work, and to Chipotle.

…Sounds like a pretty good day.


“You think you have 200 friend because your friend list on Facebook says so? Go though your friend list, pick one at random, call them at 4:30 in the morning and tell them you need a ride home from the airport and see how well that works out for you.” -Sean Kent

Be different




Sometimes, you’ll be the only sunflower that refuses to face the east.



The little things

I just got gas at a gas station that didn’t have TVs on top of them. It’s a sad sign of the times that such an experience is actually notable.

Parenting, Justice, and Media

Last night, I went to go see the new Mission: Impossible movie, because I’ve strangely had the desire to go to a movie theater of late. I even managed to get there early enough to see all of the coming attractions. One of them struck a chord with me, as it tangentially resonated with a discussion I had with my father yesterday morning. The trailer was for the movie Secret in Their Eyes. That particular trailer kept rattling around in my mind, even as the movie itself played (side note: MI basically lives up to the hype and is generally worth seeing, though I do look forward to the CinemaSins…).

In the event that you didn’t click the link above, the gist is that a homicide detective is called to investigate a murder, only to find that it’s her daughter. The trailer indicates that the killer was brought to court, and walked free on some sort of technicality. Naturally, things get messy as we see the parent head down a rather dark path.


This brought two things to my mind. Keep in mind that I’m basing this solely on what’s present in the trailer; the movie is still approximately three months away from release. The first is that the killer walking may be a good thing. We live in a society where one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Blackstone’s formulation is well known – “It is better that ten guilty men go free, than one innocent man suffer”. The more I read of John Adams’s work, the more I believe that he may well be my favorite president. He described the situation this way:

It is more important that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world, that all of them cannot be punished…. when innocence itself, is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, ‘it is immaterial to me whether I behave well or ill, for virtue itself is no security.’ And if such a sentiment as this were to take hold in the mind of the subject that would be the end of all security whatsoever.

Suppose the issue was that the evidence was not properly gathered. Terrible as it is, the killer walks free despite his guilt. The alternative is to mitigate the value of properly acquiring evidence, as long as it proves guilt. The logical conclusion of this is a society where law enforcement could break into somebody’s house to acquire evidence for a trial. Alternatively, law enforcement could collect evidence of any observed wrongdoing, regardless of the problem for which the warrant and/or ‘probable cause’ was invoked. Is that the way society should function? Parallel construction is already a practice that’s on the table, is extending such a practice truly a benefit to society? I certainly don’t think so.

The problem thereafter is like it – the trailer seems to convey the idea that “bending the rules is okay because a child died”. As an audience, we’re led in a direction that causes us to focus solely on the injustice felt by the mother; the impetus to see the movie is because we ask, “will they catch him?”. The trailer gave no indication that there was a question of guilt being asked, though let’s face it – trailers can be misleading. We presume his guilt. We presume that they’re having trouble bringing him back to court because of double jeopardy. We presume that the protagonists must consider vigilante justice because the system failed. We assume that they are right, and those opposing them are wrong. And every parent in the audience will side with the mother on the screen.


Think about this for a moment: As an audience, we are led to side with a parent who is willing to put aside due process, when her very job is performing due process.


Let’s tell this story from the perspective of another parent: The mother of the (presumed) killer. She must watch as a group of police officers vilify her son, take him into custody, make a public spectacle of him (thus, ruining his life regardless of the outcome), have the court declare him ‘not guilty’…and then have the detectives continue to hunt him down because they don’t like what the judge and jury had to say. What about that mother? If he’s innocent, she’ll have to live through the pain of watching him go on trial for a crime he didn’t commit. If he’s guilty, she’ll have to live with the fact that her son is a murderer. Is it the same as finding one’s child murdered? No, it isn’t – but that mother is given precisely zero screen time in the trailer.

I am sure many of you are saying something like, “the difference is…her son was the perpetrator, so her son should face the music.” True as that may well be, such reason brings us back to Blackstone’s formulation. How far, as a society, are we willing to go, to bring Blackstone’s ratio down from 10:1? Shall we allow warrantless home searches? Shall we revoke the fifth amendment? Shall we expand the NSA wiretapping? At what point do the number of stipulations on the presumption of innocence become so great that there is no longer that protection?

We see a story like this play out in murder dramas all the time. I like NCIS and Castle as much as a few million other people, but I recognize that Gibbs and Beckett have a tendency to ignore the rules when it doesn’t suit them. Due Process is seen as an obstacle to get around, rather than a structure designed to protect the innocent. In these series (and plenty more), as well as Secret in Their Eyes, we’re presented with a scenario designed to trigger an emotional response – one that causes us to bypass logic, reason, and presumption of innocence…because it’s a child who was the victim. Without going too far down the “tin foil hat” path, I wonder if there is a concerted effort to influence our society to be more willing to give up our constitutional rights in this respect. An even more chilling thought: are these depictions of the lack of importance of due process a reflection of a mindset that’s already taken hold? Would a murder trial in 2015 ever be likely to see someone in a jury box willing to assume the role of Juror #8?


Yesterday morning, I was speaking with my father about the fact that, like most parents with adult children, he’s looking forward to being a grandparent to my offspring. I’ve made it no secret to those around me that I have neither desire nor intention to reproduce. There are a number of reasons for my feelings in this regard – an aversion to dirty diapers and sleepless nights being amongst them, another being sense of worry that I’ll mess up and either through inaction cause my child harm, or become a ‘helicopter parent’ that childproofs the world, rather than worldproofing the child.

My aversion goes deeper though – there’s a reason I filed this post under ‘philosophy’. I do everything I can to keep a clear head and level perspective. I’m not always successful, but it really is my goal to lend credence to all known sides of a situation, even those I don’t necessarily agree with, in order to ultimately achieve a reasonable and informed opinion.

How can I do that when I’m a parent? Is it truly possible for me to give equal credence to both my child and the other when both say that the other threw the first punch? Is it better or worse for me to side with the little league coach if I think he’s right? If I were the father of the victim in Secret in Their Eyes, and the court found him “not guilty”, would I really be able to say to myself, “well, it’s better that ten guilty men go free than one innocent man suffer, so my child’s killer walks, but at least the judge didn’t admit the irrefutable evidence of his guilt because no warrant was issued!”?  Let’s even, by some miracle, say that I was able to have that mentality – the mentality that says that I respect the justice system as a consequence of living in a civilized society, even when my child is dead. What of those around me? Will my wife agree with me, or will my belief in due process so violently clash with her maternal instinct that we’re stuck in either a lifelong stalemate or a divorce? Will my friends and family think that I didn’t really love my child because I choose to respect the rights of her murderer? Given the opportunity to look my child’s murderer in the eye, will I be more upset with myself for punching him in the face, or for not doing so? Will I be able to deal with the fact that her death will always be the elephant in the room of every party I ever host, perpetually looked upon with pity and sympathy by well meaning friends and family whose outcomes betray their intentions?

I am forced to conclude that a mindset that upholds the value of due process and the rights of others over the life of my child, and a disdain for the mindset that prioritizes the life of one child over the legal rights of another, is one that makes me unfit to become a parent.



Spoiler warning: Tom Cruise doesn’t die in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

Ed Sheeran’s Travel Math

On the radio this morning, the song “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran started to play. It’s been a while since I’ve heard that song, but something has always bothered me about it – this lyrical excerpt:

And never wants to sleep, I guess that I don’t want to either
But me and her we make money the same way
Four cities, two planes the same day
And those shows have never been what it’s about


Alright, let’s try to make that schedule work. The context of the song leads me to believe it to be two musicians, something that my research for this post confirmed. So, we’ll assume that these people start their day with a 6AM red eye flight out of Raleigh, NC to Washington, DC. Raleigh technically counts as a city they are in, even though they’re probably not performing in Raleigh in order to make the math work, so it only counts on a technicality. So, Ed gets up at 4AM to head to the airport and hop on his 6AM flight; two hours to get through airport security and traffic from the hotel seems reasonable.

It’s a 1hr, 10min flight from Raleigh to DC, getting him there at 7:10AM. We’ll presume he’s singing at a ritzy breakfast for some senators there, so we’ll assume that he’s grabbed his bags, and headed right to the venue where he’s singing. He gets on stage at 9AM and puts on a one hour show. This gets him done at 10AM, and we’ll assume that nobody wants to talk to him after to get a selfie or autograph.

Why did I pick D.C.? Because if there are four cities but only two plane trips, you need at least one non-flying method of transit. So, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that Baltimore is the third city, since the two of them are close enough to be within driving distance, yet still be distinct cities with their own separate airports. However, we’re dealing with traffic. Google Maps puts the distance between the White House and the Rotunda at about 90 minutes, but I’ve never heard a story of travel between Baltimore and DC that didn’t involve groaning and otherwise terrifying descriptions of cars that weren’t moving, so we’re factoring in two hours of traffic for Ed’s tour bus (which doesn’t get in an accident, or pulled over, or a flat tire….). That gets him into Baltimore at noon, and we’ll assume a negligible stop at McDonald’s for lunch. What’s he doing in Baltimore? Well, he’s in the studio for an interview on Z104.3, the local Clearchannel Top 40 radio station. That interview is at 1:00, and also lasts for an hour.

Ed gets onto the tour bus to head to the airport again for the second time today. It’s a half hour trip from the Z104.3 studio to BWI, so we’ll assume that he’s hopping a 4PM flight. Where’s he going? To perform at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, of course! It’s another 1:10 flight, which naturally departs and arrives perfectly on time. Ed arrives at Kennedy at 5:10. He hops the AirTrain to Jamaica, and takes the LIRR to Atlantic Terminal. The timing is, once again, perfect…so Ed gets to Barclay’s Center in an hour.

It’s 6:10PM. Ed has been up for nearly fourteen hours now; that’s usually when most of us have “had it” and pull out our bag of popcorn and start resuming whatever we paused last night on Netflix. Not Ed! Tonight’s his night to perform at the Billboard 100 Music Festival! He goes on stage at 7:00, but he needs to be there at the end of the show because he’s getting an award for…something. So, he heads to his hotel at 11PM, and calls it a night.

What’s the takeaway here? Well, when I actually did the math, it seems that it’s technically plausible to do “four cities, two planes the same day”, Assuming…

  1. One takes an extremely early flight out in the morning…and counts their location of departure as one of the cities, without any actual performance happening there.
  2. Each of the other appearances over the course of the day are approximately an hour long.
  3. The cities are close enough for the flights and driving distances to be within two hours each.
  4. The appearances themselves are timed in perfect sequence to follow a linear travel path.
  5. The planes are all precisely on time, and their arrival and departure times are all correctly timed with the appearance schedules.
  6. Similarly, everyone is “in place” when the flights land – all the bus/limo drivers are in place, on time, and easily found.
  7. “Life” doesn’t happen – no encores, no autographs, no questions, no traffic, no getting bumped from a flight….

And, after that perfectly synchronized day, Ed can NOT then state that you don’t want to sleep, like Ed does two lines up in the song. Ed also can’t have a day like that and then say that the shows are not what it’s about, because no sane person would adhere to that schedule for any other reason.

The Republican Debate

All the Republican candidates last night be like, “I’ma make promises because it’s nomination season.”
All the Democrats on my Facebook be like, “Look at these idiots”, despite the fact that they were never, ever going to vote for them anyway.And I’m just sittin’ here like, “Looks like another presidential election where I’m writing in my (former) mechanic”.

The following four quotes by Mark Twain basically sum it up for me…
“There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”
“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.”
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.


…and this is basically the extent of the political content that will find itself on my blog.

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