Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Favorite Color

My wife will tell you my favorite color is red, and will use my reaction when she wears a red dress as proof. However, I don’t react the same way when other people wear red. So I’m not sure the conclusion she draws is 100% correct. (Though I am not saying she is wrong. Red is a very nice color. Especially on her.)

When it comes to business shirts, I definitely prefer blue. (Though I do have a pink shirt that I like to wear.) When it comes to casual shirts, tie-dye. (And one of my favorite tie-dye shirts is a baseball Cardinals shirt my wife tie-dyed for me – and you can probably guess the color. But my bleeding Cardinal red doesn’t make red my favorite color.)

My favorite color sky is blue. Yes, sunsets are beautiful, but they don’t beat a cloudless, sunny afternoon.

I like red wine, but I definitely prefer white. (Actually, I prefer mead, which is more of a honey color.) I once tried Red Ale, and didn’t like it at all. I prefer my food brown (the color of chocolate or dark rum) which doesn’t mean I don’t like apples. (I prefer Jonathan and Golden Delicious, anyway.) And my politics are a solid blue. Not one drop of red.

Draw your own conclusions.

Missouri Judges and Constitutional Amendments – How I am Voting and Why

Missouri puts their judges up for election, and recently, there have been more and more constitutional amendments on the ballots. Here is how I am voting and why. Not that you will necessarily agree with me, but my thought process could help you make your decision. Feel free to let me know why you disagree. My mind can sometimes be changed.

St. Louis County Judges

The Missouri Bar Association reviews all judges up for election. Lawyers know the judges the best. This time around, they are recommending that all the judges in St. Louis County be retained. So I will vote yes on all of them. If you don’t live in St. Louis County – check here for your county.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 2

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that it will be permissible to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age?

If more resources are needed to defend increased prosecutions additional costs to governmental entities could be at least $1.4 million annually, otherwise the fiscal impact is expected to be limited.

My vote: NO — Currently prior criminal acts are not admissible as evidence to show that the alleged is the ‘type of person’ to commit a crime. The State Supreme Court unanimously stated this in 2007 – hence the legislature’s attempt to get the people to change the constitution. This Constitutional Amendment creates an exception for one crime, treating one alleged criminal differently from all other alleged criminals. Even if one thinks this is the worst possible crime, in the US justice system, one is innocent until proven guilty. So all alleged criminals should be treated the same. To treat one class differently is a violation of the “Innocent until proven guilty” assumption. You are stating that the crime they are accused of outweighs their presumed innocence, justifying the removal of legal protections. I am unwilling to state this.

ETA: And, as the League of Women Voters point out – we already allow this evidence in sentencing hearings – after conviction.

I suspect this will pass, because the majority of voters will not realize the problems with this amendment, and will think ‘anything that helps convict pedophiles is a good thing.’

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 3

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
– require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding,
– require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system,
– require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts, and
– prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?

Decisions by school districts regarding provisions allowed or required by this proposal and their implementation will influence the potential costs or savings impacting each district. Significant potential costs may be incurred by the state and/or the districts if new/additional evaluation instruments must be developed to satisfy the proposals performance evaluation requirements.

My vote: NO — No way am I voting for this. Basing teacher pay and retention primarily on student test scores only sounds good if you believe a student’s success is due solely to the quality of the teacher, with no influence from the parents or the students themselves. This evaluation system, and the three year contract system, will actually further encourage the better teachers to teach at private schools.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 6

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before the election day in general elections, but only if the legislature and the governor appropriate and disburse funds to pay for the increased costs of such voting?

State governmental entities estimated startup costs of about $2 million and costs to reimburse local election authorities of at least $100,000 per election. Local election authorities estimated higher reimbursable costs per election. Those costs will depend on the compensation, staffing, and, planning decisions of election authorities with the total costs being unknown.

My vote: YES — Early voting is a good idea – the more people who have an opportunity to vote, the better for the system.
NO – I didn’t read the text of this carefully. The Missouri League of Women Voters discussion of the amendments clarified things for me. This isn’t a real Early Voting bill, but a distraction to prevent a real one from being passed. Note that all extra days are “business days” not weekends. And, if the legislature chooses not to fund it, nothing happens. Also, not included in the ballot wording, is that the only location for early voting would be the County Election Board. Early Voting is a good thing, but passing this would make passing a real solution less likely.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 10

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the governor to pay the public debt, to prohibit the governor from relying on revenue from legislation not yet passed when proposing a budget, and to provide a legislative check on the governors decisions to restrict funding for education and other state services?

State governmental entities expect no direct costs or savings. Local governmental entities expect an unknown fiscal impact.

My vote: No — This sounds like the legislature attempting to remove abilities from the governor that tick them off, because currently the legislature has a party majority opposite the governor. Instead of providing a legislative check, they are removing an executive check.

Literally, no big deal

“…Tom was literally rolling in wealth…” — Mark Twain, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876.

(And the OED cites still earlier uses. Yes, the OED describes the usage as ‘colloquial.’ They are correct. One should only use the word in this manner when and where colloquial usages are appropriate. However, this is not a new usage.)

I have not always felt this way.

radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless, noble

I believe only one or two of these adjectives at most appropriately apply to me.

All of them apply to the gas known as Radon (a byproduct of either Uranium or Thorium). Radon is everywhere – inside houses and outside. Average outside levels can be as high as 0.75 pCi/L. (Picocuries per liter. It’s nice that Marie and Pierre Curie have been memorialized forever with a unit of measurement) The national average outside is 0.4. The national average inside homes is 1.3. The average for homes in St. Louis County is 4.0. And the EPA recommends taking action on any home above 4.0.

The home my wife and I are buying currently has radon levels of 4.4. So we will be installing a Radon mitigation device upon moving in.

Here’s an interesting risk chart from the EPA

If 1000 people who never smoked were exposed to radon levels of 4 pCi/L over a lifetime – 7 could get lung cancer. Roughly equivalent to the risk of dying in a car crash. Not exactly a horrific risk level, but on the other hand, reducing the radon level is still a good idea.

The risk is higher for those who have smoked.

Have you checked the radon levels in your home?

We have normality

“…probability factor of one to one…we have normality, I repeat we have normality…Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.” – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Caught up on sleep. Receiving the results of the Radon inspection today, and that should conclude the inspection phase. The house is very well-maintained, and assuming the radon levels are OK, we shouldn’t be asking very much from the owners. The rest of this should be as smooth as the smooth object of your choosing.

Well…except the packing. Why does there have to be packing?

The Inverse Relationship of Sleep and Blood

Wednesday Morning last week:

Basherte: Have you ever had insomnia?
Me: No

Wednesday evening: The Basherte and I put a bid down on a house.

I don’t think I have had a normal night’s sleep since.
I may have gotten close to a normal night last night, but not nearly enough to catch up.

The inspections are coming to an end today and tomorrow. We’ve been told the house is insurable, and the loan is approved. The things for me to be stressed about are being checked off one by one. Packing will be a pain, but that shouldn’t be as stressful, since the outcome is more certain.

Some people might wonder if I lied to my wife, or not. This isn’t really the first time in my life I have had issues with sleeping. But I don’t consider it ‘insomnia’ if the stress that is causing it is so clearly identifiable. The diagnosis for me is ‘stress’ not ‘insomnia,’ and it happens very rarely. (And it usually doesn’t last more than a day or two.)

My nose also bled this week for the first time in several years. I had several nose bleeds around the time I was initially dating my Basherte. She didn’t understand the cause back then, but now she finds that hilarious, and compares me to Stan on South Park.

 

Amazon’s Kindle Worlds

Amazon has announced that they will soon be seeking submissions for Kindle Worlds

Get ready for Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games. With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with licenses for more Worlds on the way.

This isn’t as earth-shattering new as some are portraying it. Pocket Books has been selling Star Trek fan-fiction for decades. Yes, authors have to submit their fan-fiction to Pocket Books/Paramount. Pocket Books/Paramount decides what gets published. Authors will have to submit their fan-fiction to Amazon. Amazon, with input I am certain from the rights holders, will decide what gets published. The website already lists several content restrictions:

  • Pornography: We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.
  • Offensive Content: We don’t accept offensive content, including but not limited to racial slurs, excessively graphic or violent material, or excessive use of foul language.
  • Illegal and Infringing Content: We take violations of laws and proprietary rights very seriously. It is the authors’ responsibility to ensure that their content doesn’t violate laws or copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other rights.
  • Poor Customer Experience: We don’t accept books that provide a poor customer experience. Examples include poorly formatted books and books with misleading titles, cover art, or product descriptions. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience.
  • Excessive Use of Brands: We don’t accept the excessive use of brand names or the inclusion of brand names for paid advertising or promotion.
  • Crossover: No crossovers from other Worlds are permitted, meaning your work may not include elements of any copyright-protected book, movie, or other property outside of the elements of this World.

This will make selling fan-fiction in the specified universes easier. Selling fan-fiction in other universes will still be as illegal as it was previously. Publishing, but not selling, fan-fiction in other universes will remain as illegal as it was previously.

The only legal questions I have are related to the fact that the current acquired universes seem to be television shows based on written works. Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith. Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard. Amazon says they acquired the rights to the universes from Warner Brothers. Meaning, I think, that in addition to Amazon’s cut, and the fan-fiction author’s cut, Warner Brothers will get a cut. Will the author of the original series get a cut? Did Amazon ask the original authors for permission? Did they need to? If they only have Warner Brother’s permission, do the fan-fiction authors have to be careful about using characters and plot references that only appear in the novels, and not in the television show?

Update: Their press release indicates the rights were obtained from Alloy Entertainment – the book publishing arm of Warner Brothers. This suggests that Warner Brothers/Alloy own the rights to both the novels and television series, in which case there should be no legal issue.

Hypothetical Moral Quandary

Let’s say the following events occur. (I have a friend who is wondering…)

1] You purchase tickets online to an event
2] You arrive at the event, and the box office agent has you recorded as having purchased twice as many tickets as you are aware of purchasing
3] You protest, “I only purchased X tickets, and only received an online email receipt for X tickets”
4] Box office agent queries boss, and receives permission to resell your extra tickets and hand you the cash.
5] It is emphasized this isn’t normally done, but the boss OKd it, and you express your gratitude.
6] You return home, check your online bank account, and confirm – only one set of tickets was purchased
7] You realize you basically attended a free event, but the venue is out $X. (You did purchase drinks while there, so they did make some money off you.)
8] But you also realize the boss gave the OK, so the box office peon isn’t going to get in trouble for it if the likely electronic blip is discovered.
9] The facts don’t change in your bank account – let’s hypothetically give it a week.

Do you feel morally obligated to return the extra cash to the venue?
Or is this the Monopoly-equivalent “Bank error in your favor, collect $X”