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So here I am, finally done with LiveJournal. Given that I've made maybe one not-just-for-me post in the past 3 years or so, I maybe should have given up on the platform years back. But while I wasn't posting, I was most certainly still reading. I've linked up with lots of interesting people over the years, and a non-insignificant number of them have continued to post on LJ, eschewing Facebook for the less popular platform, but one far more accepting of, and suited to, long-form writing.

But now LJ is more dead than ever before and here we are. Lots of people have made the same jump I have, but I'm not sure I have the emotional fortitude to go back and try to rebuild those long-ago-forged links.

I wonder if some small subset of spiders, when their net gets ruined by a passing mammal for the nth time, simply go "fuck it, I'm done," and starve to death.
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Is anyone else getting logged out of livejournal on a random and frequent basis lately?
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A recent BBC program raised the question, and I've been poking at it in my head for the last day or so. I'm curious what you folks think.

What's the goal of education? After all, pretty much all societies* today are expending massive amounts of resources on providing education or -- in the case of poorer societies, wishing they could do so.

I'll expand the question: What is the goal of our education system as it currently stands, and what *should* be its goal (if the two are not the same)?

Multiple priorities are OK.

Or you could also take this in a completely different direction and argue that the goal of *education* doesn't correlate with the goal of *the education system*. But if you do, please expand on why you feel the current system isn't meeting the needs of the society :)

*The issue of women's education in more traditionalist Muslim societies (as well as some fringe Christian groups, for that matter) can certainly be discussed, but I would argue that this is a case of educational priorities being overridden by other, more powerful, societal drivers -- and even those societies devote a lot of resources to education. Just not for women.
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Thanks to [ profile] suricattus.

Take the following list, and: Bold items you have, and use at least once a year. Italicize the ones you have, but don't use. Strike through the ones you had, but have gotten rid of.

pasta machines, breadmakers, juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers, egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastry brushes, cheese knives, electric woks, miniature salad spinners, griddle pans, jam funnels, meat thermometers, filleting knives, egg poachers, cake stands, garlic crushers, martini glasses, tea strainers, bamboo steamers, pizza stones, coffee grinders, milk frothers, piping bags, banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers (bains marie), sukiyaki stoves, food processors, ice cream makers, takoyaki makers, and fondue sets

(yes, I know. Haven't used the gifted fondue set once, and I live with a nigh-infinite supply of cheese)

Originally from The Guardian.
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I suspect this will be of interest to no one except myself and those who play Fallen London and read this blog. You have been warned.

I've been slowly but steadily working my way up to the Overgoat. The Overgoat is expensive: 11,712.80 echoes. Given that the average action gives you around 1-1.2 echoes, and even at my most dedicated and computer-bound I don't think I managed more than 80 actions in a day... I started this before Fallen London switched to unlimited actions and I figured it'd take me six months. But doing nothing but grinding cash is unbelieveably boring, so I figure it's going to take me another six months from right now.

What follows is a discussion of the most efficient way of grinding echoes in Fallen London. )
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BBC Analysis did a show on political prejudice.

I urge you to listen to it, 27:45 long though it may be.

Podcast link for those not keen on the BBC iPlayer. You'll want the Sept. 17, 2012 programme.
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We've just found ourselves in possession of 200 gallons of milk, with which something must be done by tonight or it will get dumped.

I'm soliciting recipe suggestions that use *lots* of milk. Lots and lots of milk. We simply don't have that many containers.
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If you do, how difficult a process do you have to go through to get them? How often do you update your copies?
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“The witch’s house lays eggs sometimes,” said the weasel. “I tried to eat one.”
--Ursula Vernon, House with Bird Feet (Current work in progress)
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3.5 hours to go on the kickstarter!

I'm in for probably more than I should have. But people! Shadowrun!
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There has been a lot of back and forth on the issue of the Affordable Health Care Act (AKA Obamacare). Now that the Individual Mandate has been reaffirmed by the US Supreme Court, here are some facts, courtesy of the Kaiser Health News*.

Let's start with the worst case scenario: You can't get affordable coverage and must take the penalty hit. Even in that case, things aren't horrible.

No penalties will be in effect until after January 1, 2014. Even then, the annual penalty will be set at 1% of annual income or $95, whichever is greater. This amount will gradually increase, reaching a maximum of $695 or 2.5% of annual income, again whichever is greater, by January 1, 2016. Note that the penalty is *per individual*, but there is a maximum per family of $2,085 or 2.5% of annual income, whichever is greater.

tl;dr: No one will ever pay a penalty more than $2,085 per family 2.5% of their family's annual income per year. (Kaiser Health News, March 22, 2010)

But really, I suspect most of us would rather have insurance coverage -- the problem is finding something that's actual *coverage* and that we can afford. The Act provides for a sliding-scale subsidy program. Under the program,

1) Medicaid coverage will be expanded to cover individuals and families at or below 133% of the federal poverty level. As of 2012, these are: $11,170 for an individual, $15,130 for a couple, and $23,050 for a family of four. So Medicaid would cover an individual making $14,856, a couple making $20,123, or a family of four earning 30,656.(Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2012 Federal Poverty Guidelines)

2) For those earning 133%-400% of the poverty level ($14,856-$44,680 for individuals, $20,123-$60,520 for couples, $30,656-$92,200 for family of four), a sliding-scale subsidy will be available to offset the cost of premiums. This is the bit I like the most: The subsidy won't be something you have to ask for on your year-end taxes; it will be implemented as a cap on your annual premium. Wikipedia has the chart, but to save you the trip, a family of four at the 150% income level would be paying at most $1,383/year in premiums (after adjustment for poverty line cut-off since the chart was made). At the top of this category, a family of four earning $92,200 a year would be paying at most 9.5% of its income in premiums, or $8,759.(Kaiser Health News, March 22, 2010)

tl;dr: If you're making under $44.5K/year as an individual or under $90K/year as a family of four, you'll be paying at most $4,225 (individual) or $8,759 (family) in annual premiums. In many cases much less than that.

3) For those at or below the 400% income level, out-of-pocket costs will also be limited, but I haven't seen much detail on how or how much.

*The article I'm pulling this from is a tad dated, so if you're aware of changes that have taken place since then, please let me know and I'll correct the post.

The full text of the Affordable Healthcare Act is NINE HUNDRED FIFTY FIVE PAGES of dense legalese, but here ya go. Just in case you have a week or two to kill :)

Last updated June 28, 23:09 EDT
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Think back to yesterday.
-How many times did you do something that triggered the flow of electrical current?
-How would your day have been different if you'd only had half that number of activations available to you? (you do get to choose which ones you would have dropped)

For the sake of the thought experiment, consider only first-order events: Pressing a button on the microwave counts, but the microwave then turning on both the emitter and the plate spinning motor don't.

Also treat individual triggers as distinct events: Dialling a phone number counts as seven (or 10, or however many digits you dialled) events, not one.
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Just like honey badger.

This is the first of the long-planned and even -promised series of gardening posts. I'll start off easy (no photos).

One of the things we did this year was plant a set of raspberry bushes. Well, bushes eventually. Right now they're about 3" off the ground. Well, mostly. See, there were some problems with the quality of the compost we planted them into. I don't know if you get the same sort of variation in nutrient content with store-bought compost, but when you get it from the farm by way of a long time sitting in the open with stuff growing on the top layer, some variation is expected. In this case, as the yellowing leaves on our six sad, neglected raspberries told us, there wasn't enough nitrogen in the mix.

Cue slow-release nitrogen tablets near the roots of each. Cue an almost full week of rain.

Remember how I said the (now much healthier and sporting new growth) raspberries were about 3" off the ground? That's five of them. The sixth one grew to over a foot. In a week. Bamboo, you got *nothing* on this baby.

As an aside, did you know that it's only the new growth that fruits on raspberry bushes? Apparently, with at least some of the varieties, the thing to do at the end of every fall is to mow them down to the ground.

Another moment of "mother nature don't care" tomorrow, when the rain stops and I can take a photo.
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So. Many. Great. Lines! You should all go see it. Though frankly, the 3D added not a whit of enjoyment for me.
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When I saw the Kuhn Rikon 3-piece knife set on Woot, I couldn't resist. Lusting for years after Wusthof Classics, I'm used to each of my knives costing upwards of $40 (which is why I have two Classics and a large number of crappy knives -- and one of the Classics was a gift). $15 for three sounded like a steal, and even if I didn't like them, I knew I could give them to someone less knife-snobbish, who'd be perfectly happy to have them.

By complete coincidence, the package arrived the same day I picked up the three J. A. Henkels knives on a Groupon I'd purchased months back. The Henkels went into daily use, while the Rikons, due to my showing off their cuteness to some of my wife's family members, ended up being hidden in a drawer from the toddler and forgotten for a month or so.

I happened across them today. I had a pineapple to cut, so I figured what the hell, let's give them a spin.
Here be the profanity )


Apr. 17th, 2012 09:05 pm
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I was planning on a series of gardening posts. Instead, I've picked up a cold that has me unable to look at a monitor for longer than 5 min. at a time. Regular broadcasts will... Oh wait, I wasn't doing any of those anyway. Back in a few days, then.
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Rough shelf for storing canned goods in the basement: Built
Circular, three-tier strawberry bed: Built, filled with dirt, filled with (some of the) strawberries
Terraced bed: Fence posts dug in, wall installed, bed just needs dirt and plants. (and the replacement of one fence post, more fool me)
Retaining wall for vegetable beds: Built
Mice: Multiplying, despite ongoing culling efforts :/
Rear bumper: Cracked in four places
Lessons learned: Don't back over the massive lawnmower, you idiot!
(lawnmower: Not even scratched)
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Oh hai.

Article, I do not want to write you right now. Which is a shame, because you're actually pretty interesting.

Oh well, back to Echo Bazaar.
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Rather sleepy at the moment. Awesome convention. Awesome roommates. Awesome baby, who proved far more popular than both of her parents combined. (Connie Willis *and* Greg Bear both admired the baby and cooed at her. I don't know about Kat, but I can tell you for sure they'd never done that to me)

More when consciousness returns. But first, I think I'll unpack the new suitcase, which arrived about two hours after we'd left for the airport.
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After seeing a review of these on Cool Tools, I picked a few up on a whim (while driving to the airport, no less!) I have to say, they are the bees' knees.

OK, now that I've fulfilled my "bees' knees" lifetime quota, back to the point. Eagle Creek came out with a line of polyester (40% post-consumer waste, even!) /mesh, soft-sided "cubes" (they're boxes, really; I don't think any are actually cube-shaped) into which you put your stuff. Then you put them into your luggage, and voila! A portable compartment for each and every thing, from underwear to shirts to the plethora of cords and chargers for your electronics.

The most useful ones (in my opinion, anyway) are the Cube, the Half Cube, and the Tube Cube, for those narrow parts along the side of your suitcase.

The Wallaby toiletry kit is one I'm planning to get next, though possibly not in time for this trip.

And on that note, I think it's time to wash some clothes for the upcoming trip :)