Kentucky news

Happy Easter! I’m not much of an Easter celebrator, but I wish I was with the grandsons to enjoy it with them and through their eyes. I’m sure they’ll get to chase some hidden eggs today. Here’s a shot of their Easter outfits this very day.

In other news, CJ Frederick will finally be in the lineup for KY this fall. That’s good news. Our team will come together a little bit at a time, all through the summer. Dreams of titles, here we go again.

This is a topic I don’t write about much, but given that Kentucky has made national news here, it’s worth a mention. KY is the first state to effectively ban all abortions. Makes me sad, but then I know how conservative most of the state is. I’m not going to get into the sophistry of when life begins and what or when should be the dividing line, but it 100% seems wrong to me that a government can say what a person can and cannot do to their body. That goes for vaccines, tattoos, piercings, haircuts, body mods, etc. A person’s body is theirs and theirs alone – no one else should get to decide what is done to it.

The escape clause in this logic is that the government of KY might say “Well, you can still get an abortion, but you can’t get it here…”. Sort of OK, but what happens when KY law becomes US law? Not everyone can afford to leave the country for a medical procedure.

It’s a sad state of affairs. I respect those who are trying to protect “the unborn”, but I would think our first priority is to protect the rights of the born. Mandating that women carry all pregnancies to full term and become mothers whether they want to or not is just…crazy. It demotes women to second class personhood, which I suppose is the point. Thanks, Kentucky.

Extreme sitting

Thought for the day: “I don’t always go the extra mile, but when I do it’s because I missed my exit.”

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Scientists and engineers do it again. New material is a plastic that is stronger than steel and can be transparent – sounds like the perfect spaceship window to me. Or the old Star Trek invention of “transparent aluminum”.

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Put it on your calendar – August 2024, a total solar eclipse, with the path of totality within easy driving distance of our Louisville KY home. We witnessed the 2017 eclipse by taking a drive from Louisville to the Tennessee border, and it was a memorable, almost spiritual event. Kathryn captured the best picture of it on her iPhone, used in the title picture above. It’ll be 20 years until the next one viewable in the US, so this might be my last chance.

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Finally, a new sport in which I could be competitive, perhaps world-class. Extreme sitting.

Pink full moon

Thought for the day: “Some people are like clouds, once they disappear it’s a beautiful day.”

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Engineers do it again! Here’s a new invention, a device that converts heat directly to electricity with no moving parts. One more way to generate power without burning dinosaurs. But I have to wonder, if not concentrated sunlight, what is the heat source?

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We’re getting a pink full Moon for Easter. Nice!

Hot chicken

Joke of the day: “It’s probably my age that tricks people into thinking I’m an adult.”

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Louisville isn’t the only place with a great food scene. My hands-down new favorite chicken sandwich is from Cross Street Chicken. I visited the one on Convoy Street yesterday for lunch, and wow – world-class hot chicken sandwich, Nashville interpreted by Koreans! I made the mistake of eating the entire sandwich, but at least I didn’t need any dinner.

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My Wordle trend has reversed. 3/6 the last two days. I’m not entirely dim after all.

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I finished Emily St. John Mandel’s amazing book, Sea of Tranquility, in the middle of the night last night. (A testament to my ever-worse sleep habits). It’s still with me; I may need to read or just peruse it again to think about some of the ideas and characters. So many big ideas, all playing in the background of the story of a hapless man’s enlightenment and development. I wouldn’t even know how to start writing such a book. I’m happy I read it.

Bad faith communication

More evidence of The Big Grift comes out. I would actually classify this as espionage, not just bribery. Done on a massive scale, and pretty much right out in the open. From Letters From An American:

But those stories pale in comparison to the news broken last night by ​​David D. Kirkpatrick and Kate Kelly of the New York Times: six months after Trump left office, an investment fund controlled by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), invested $2 billion with Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, despite the fact that the fund advisors found Kushner’s new company “unsatisfactory in all aspects.” At the same time, they also invested about $1 billion in another new firm run by Trump’s former treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.  

Kushner has little experience in private equity, and his firm consists primarily of that Saudi money; no American institutions have invested with him. The Saudi investment will net Kushner’s firm about $25 million a year in asset management fees, and the investors required him to hire qualified investment professionals to manage the money.

It certainly looks as if Kushner is being rewarded for his work on behalf of the kingdom, and perhaps in anticipation of influence in the future. Kushner defended MBS after news broke that the crown prince had approved the killing and dismemberment of U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Kushner helped to broker $110 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, even as Congress was outraged by MBS’s war in Yemen. Most concerning, though, is that Kushner had access to the most sensitive materials in our government. Career officials denied Kushner’s security clearance out of concern about his foreign connections, but Trump overruled them.

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Here’s a new way (at least it’s new to me) of thinking about our cultural divide and how it might be bridged. Bad Faith Communication has become the norm in America, and somehow we have to reverse that. The article lays out a framework for how and why we’ve gotten here, but not really any plan for fixing the problem. And a nice insight – the endgame here is chaos, a completely dysfunctional society, not one side winning. From the article:

Given well-documented advances in the field of information warfare, there should be no illusion: today’s culture war cannot be won by any side. Mutually assured destruction is now the name of the wargame.[6] The saturation of bad faith communication throughout culture is steadily increasing, like a kind of dangerous background radiation emitted from scientifically engineered memetic weaponry. Public political discourse is quickly becoming a toxic warzone, leaching externalities into families, friendships, and identity structures.

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Life sadly imitates art. Wolverines.

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If the amazing trailer for the next season of Stranger Things doesn’t give you chills, then you might want to adjust your meds. Love the show, love the characters, and it looks like the 2022 version will be epic.

And since we’ve segued into media, here’s a podcast/audiobook that I think I’ll like. Sounds like The Office updated for 2022 and on Mars. Machina, on Realm.

Two rival tech companies compete for the chance to bring AI to Mars. 
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: If you enjoy a gripping story full of corporate espionage, high-stakes science, and robot dogs that are well-versed in mixology, then this fictional workplace drama is perfect for tuning out your real-life version of it.

Post-weekend trivia

Joke of the day: “I don’t mean to brag, but I finished my 14-day diet food supply in 9 hours and 20 minutes.”

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I may be getting dumber. My consecutive Wordle results the last few days are 2/6, 3/6, 4/6 and 5/6. Ugly trend.

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More on crypto; this time Bitcoin. We’re a cult, absolutely.

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Thanks to McSweeney’s for making it clear that we probably don’t want smart toilets. Flush that idea.

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I’m airfare-shopping a lot lately, and one thing is certain – airfares have gone up, way up. My unscientific estimate is that fares are up 30-50% relative to a year ago. I’ve looked at Southwest, United, American; inside the US and international. Our traveling life just got more expensive. Right now I’m looking to get to England in late October to catch the ship ride to Norway and the Northern Lights. Then maybe a side trip over to Scotland on the way back, mid-November. Now that I write this, a side trip to Scotland in mid-November doesn’t seem all that smart. I’ve played golf in Scotland in late May during frigid snowstorms. Maybe Scotland on the front end of that trip…

My go-to sites for international travel shopping are Momondo and business-class.com.

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Picture of the day: Little Buddies at the Beach

One of those people

Spent the day yesterday with friends on a 40 foot sailboat cruising San Diego Bay and the open ocean beyond Point Loma. Great day, great sailing partners and some great memories.

It was a rough start. We got stuck on a sand bar just 30 minutes into our excursion. None of us knew the harbor at all, and we were at extreme low tide, so not surprising in hindsight. But embarrassing at the time. A Good Samaritan in a small Zodiac offered to help pull us free. After 20-30 minutes we broke free and fled the scene. We paid the guy handsomely for rescuing us.

A while later, our grounding faux pas behind and sails unfurled, I watched people watching us from shore as we cruised by beautiful downtown San Diego. Many times I’ve stood onshore and watched majestic sailboats cruising with mysterious people aboard and wondered, “who are those lucky people out there?”. And then I realized that this time, I’m one of those people. That was fun.

Just a mile or two offshore, outside the protection of Point Loma, we sailed in much rougher waters. At that point our experienced Captain decided to let me steer the boat. It was terrifying. My every instinct was wrong. We were tacking (I think that’s the right word) hard, and to stay on course I had to fight the wheel and keep us tilted sharply, maybe 20-25 degrees over. We had waves breaking the bow and water rushing right up to the low side of the deck, where the rest of us were clinging on. Captain Terri was nonplussed and kept telling me we’re fine, the boat won’t turn over, when every neuron in my brain screamed “Yes, it will! We’re going over!” Even the slightest twitch of the wheel right or left felt like it was going to be my last mortal act. After about an hour of that I was completely drained. Our relaxing boat trip had become a consequential lesson for me – I’m not a sailor. Being at the helm and experiencing the power of just everyday, average (actually, I really hope for my own ego they were above average, but I don’t know) offshore waves and wind, I would never have made it across the water in the Magellan days. Going mano y mano with the ocean is not for me.

After I gave up the helm I went below to decompress and downed a quick beer (I really wanted something stronger). It took me a good 30-40 minutes to calm down. I don’t think my friends realized how stressed I was; I didn’t shit myself or anything, though I had to check. But I’m now 99.99% sure I’ll never sail offshore again in any boat smaller than a football field.

Weekend bits

Quote of the day: “Marjorie Taylor Greene is what you get when the ventriloquist dies but the dummy still talks.”

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The gift that just keeps on giving. Of course the records are missing.

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This is…interesting. Not the Peace Corps, but the Digital Corps. A two-year paid fellowship working for Uncle Sam, if you’re a young techie. It makes some sense. The Peace Corp was about sending Americans to some of the worst places in the world to help people in those countries better themselves. The Digital Corps will send young Americans to help specific federal agencies, agencies that could easily qualify as the worst places in the world.

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Sixty really could become the new thirty. Sign me up.

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The short heat wave is supposed to be over today. Went from 66 to 99 in less than a week.

TGIF

Thought for the day: “Common sense is not a gift. It’s a punishment because you have to deal with everyone else who doesn’t have it.”

Yesterday our high temperature was 99 degrees, against a normal of 75. And a previous all-time high of 88. Yikes. Will be the same again today, though I’ll be ensconced in an air-conditioned conference room.

Master’s weekend

The media coverage of Tiger Woods playing at Augusta today is pretty amazing. It *is* big news in the sporting world, and it’s a nice counterpoint to all of the horrific news from Ukraine, tornado alley in the US south, and everything from Congress.

Very busy weekend with a lot going on, but I’ll be tracking Tiger’s progress throughout. Everyone loves a good redemption / recovery story.

Fore

Humor for the day: Just once, I want a username and password prompt to say, “close enough…”

Big heat wave coming the next few days. Afternoon temps going up 20-25 degrees during a strong Santa Ana – it’ll be close to 100F here on Thursday and Friday. I suppose spring is over.

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When I read articles like this, I realize that (a) digital cameras are really complicated and I’m not sure I want to be an expert at this depth, and (b) this kind of technical trivia has almost zero to do with being a good photographer. It’s interesting, but only really useful if I want to be a camera designer or a writer for DPR.

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We’ve spent a lot of time lately updating our family trust, will, powers of attorney, etc. I think we’re finished, and I hope to get back to doing something more enjoyable, e.g. a tooth extraction or a five-day fast. Just sayin’…

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On that thought, I realize I’ve pretty much quit playing golf, and I don’t know why. It’s good for me, gets me moving and outdoors, but lately I haven’t gotten the itch. It’s consistent with my general unexplained lassitude these days. Sounds like a good place to start and get my ass off the couch recliner and up moving around. Fore!

Bet on crypto

I read a long Bloomberg article about cryptocurrency last night and I think I understand how the crypto economy is thriving in spite of all the corruption and nonsense involved. The answer is gambling – people love to bet, and the crypto markets have become the equivalent of unregulated dog races held a billion times per day.

There are professional investors gamblers who have made billions in the market, mostly by creating the very infrastructure that all the rubes use to invest gamble. The article I read was about the founder of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, a very interesting billionaire. Fried made his first millions by noticing that Bitcoin was consistently worth 10% more on Japanese markets than on US markets. It isn’t unusual for currencies to have slightly different values at the same time in different regions or markets, but it’s usually a penny or a tenth of a penny. A 10% variation is a gigantic arbitrage opportunity. So Bankman-Fried set up a system where his company bought bitcoin in the US and sold it in Japan, daily. Take $1000, multiply by 1.1 every day and at the end of 90 days you have $4.8 million. After 6 months you have $23 billion! (Illustrates the power of geometric growth.)

Eventually the US-Japan arbitrage window was closed, but Bankman-Fried created hundreds of new betting opportunities with his second company, FTX. It’s ostensibly a crypto exchange, but in reality it’s a virtual world betting platform. Buys and sells, options, futures, swaps, complex derivatives…bets can be placed on every cryptocurrency combination imaginable. It’s a 24×7, lightly regulated virtual currency trading betting platform. And that’s what accounts for the growth in crypto – the desire of the masses to bet.

I have a lot of respect for Bankman-Fried and what he’s done, the genius in how he’s done it, plus more respect for his philanthropy. We need more entrepreneurs like him.