Some Graphs

2019 Update

I did this last year, the scripts I used are still around, so…

Back in 2016, I made an early New Year's resolution to blog more diligently. This was unusual, in that it was actually successful. Since December 2016, I've managed to blog for 738 consecutive days. Woo! I'll try to keep going in 2019.

There's twelve more months of data on the chart showing the monthly blog posts since Pun Salad's birth in February 2005: (Hat tip: the Chart::Gnuplot Perl module)

[Monthly Posts]

Once a geek develops a hammer, it's tough to stop finding nails to pound. Here's an updated chart on my book reading; you can tell that I've been trying to read more over the past few years:

[Yearly Books]

And movies watched since 2004…

[Yearly Movies]

For the curious: My 2018 book list is here; my 2018 movie list is here.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Happy New Year! Two things I noticed when watching the ABC 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve' last night:

    1. It seems to get lamer each year. (Or maybe I'm just a year older and allegedly wiser.)
    2. When comparing the DCNYRE countdown clock to my WWVB-synchronized Casio watch, it appears that they were about 6-8 seconds behind reality.


    I suppose that's prudent, in case of a terrorist strike or Jenny McCarthy deciding to get naked on the spur of the moment, but it's a little discomfiting to watch them pretend to be "live".

  • At LessWrong, Phil Goetz makes an interesting point: shouldn't we consider Stupidity as a mental illness?

    It's great to make people more aware of bad mental habits and encourage better ones, as many people have done on LessWrong.  The way we deal with weak thinking is, however, like how people dealt with depression before the development of effective anti-depressants:

    • Clinical depression was only marginally treatable.
    • It was seen as a crippling character flaw, weakness, or sin.
    • Admitting you had it could result in losing your job and/or friends.
    • Treatment was not covered by insurance.
    • Therapy was usually analytic or behavioral and not very effective.
    • People thus went to great mental effort not to admit, even to themselves, having depression or any other mental illness.

    I've been having (mostly inchoate) thoughts in the same vein for a while: consider the population distribution of measures of human mental behavior: there will always be people several sigma away from (above or below) the mean on each measure.

    Yet we label some of those indicators as mental illness, and hence absolve the holder of responsibility for them.

    Conversely, we treat other of those indicators as "character flaws" something people are "responsible" for, and shower them with praise or blame, as appropriate.

    Deciding which is which? Largely up to the folks that write the DSM. In other words, politics.

    That seems inapt. But I have a difficult time coming up with anything better.

  • At the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby gloats: A year after net neutrality’s repeal, the Internet is alive and well — and faster than ever.

    HERE’S A PIECE of news you may have missed: The internet is getting faster. The technology news website Recode reported this month that “US internet speeds rose nearly 40 percent this year,” with broadband download velocity now averaging as much as 159 megabits per second in some cities. The United States currently ranks seventh worldwide in broadband internet speed. That’s up from 12th a year ago.

    Perhaps this strikes you as something less than a stop-the-presses revelation. The internet, after all, has been expanding and accelerating for the past 25 years. Why should 2018 have been any different?

    Yet last year, when the Federal Communications Commission moved to repeal the Obama administration’s “Net Neutrality” rule, much of the liberal establishment went berserk. Many in the media were sure the change would mean the “end of the internet as we know it.” A lavish online campaign backed by dozens of organizations issued a “Red Alert,” warning that if the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai overturned the Obama regulations, it would “give the big cable companies control over what we see and do online” and “allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees.” A New York Times business journalist bewailed the coming demise of the internet — undoing net neutrality, he wrote, “would be the final pillow in its face.” Other tech analysts were even more caustic. Nilay Patel, the editor of The Verge, proclaimed that with net neutrality gone, the internet was doomed. (“Doomed” wasn’t the word he used.)

    You can click over to find out the word he used, but I bet you can guess.

    "Disaster continues to fail to strike" isn't the most gripping headline, but is it too much to ask to be reminded that the doomsayers, with their itchy regulatory trigger fingers, were wrong?

  • At Cato, Jeffrey Miron notes how Fentanyl Test Strips exemplify how drug prohibition makes Your Federal Government do some bizarre things. Briefly, the test strips can save lives, but … guess what, the government opposes their distribution. Miron outlines the "logic" involved:

    The government’s position, therefore, is that

    1. we have to outlaw drugs because people are not rational enough to use them safely;
    2. if prohibition makes it difficult for users to determine potency and quality, that is unfortunate;
    3. but if users respond to this uncertainty by taking steps that reduce the risks, we cannot trust them to do that since they might not get it exactly right.

    And people wonder why we have an opioid epidemic.

    Fearless 2019 prediction: sanity will not break out.

  • And the Google LFOD alert buzzed for Calvin Hughes' article at Civilized about local news: New Hampshire House Speaker Vows to Legalize Cannabis Despite Governor Sununu's Threat to Veto Any Legalization Bill.

    As New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) continues to obstruct marijuana reform, cannabis advocates have begun to scoff at the Granite State's 'Live Free or Die' motto.

    "The only thing libertarian about our state is the motto," Greg Raymond, 30, a ski resort server in Whitefield told The Boston Globe. "Now it’s become an embarrassing motto: 'Live free or die, but don't touch that plant.'"

    Yes, that's the same Globe article I linked to yesterday; unfortunately I'd missed the LFOD wisdom of Greg Raymond, 30, ski resort server.

    His heart is in the right place, but I can't help but think that heavy pot use in your teens and twenties will put you firmly on the "ski resort server" career path when you hit your thirties.