Vernal (Spring) Equinox 2021

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It's springtime in the northern hemisphere or autumn if you happen to live south of the equator. Rendered in Catfood Earth.

(Previously: Vernal (Spring) Equinox 2020)

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Vernal (Spring) Equinox 2021 #code #earth #equinox #spring #autumn #vernal The exact instant of 2021's Vernal (Spring/Autumn) Equinox, rendered in Catfood Earth. )

Links for March 2021

Great Horned Owlets

Updated on Saturday, May 1, 2021

Great Horned Owlets

Two baby Great Horned Owls and one parent at Glen Canyon Park in San Francisco (Sony RX-10 IV).

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(Recent Photos)

(Published to the Fediverse as: Great Horned Owlets #photo #owl Photo of two great horned owlets and a parent shot in Glen Canyon Park, San Francisco, California. )

Deep Fake Rob

Updated on Saturday, February 19, 2022

Deep Fake Rob

I deep faked myself! Using that MyHeritage deep nostalgia thing. I'm not convinced.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Deep Fake Rob #etc #ml #video I make a deep fake video of myself using the MyHeritage deep nostalgia tool. )

One Year of Tides Animated (with Sun and Moon)

Updated on Saturday, February 19, 2022

One Year of Tides Animated (with Sun and Moon)

This animation shows a year of tides in San Francisco with the sun and moon:

I was inspired to create this after adding a tide forecast to a personal weather dashboard I have running on an old Surface Pro. I realized I didn't understand tides that much. I still don't, but I know more than I did before.

The animation illustrates four components of the tide. The obvious ones are the position of the sun and moon. When the moon is new or full the Earth, sun and moon are all lined up leading to larger 'spring' tides, which happen twice a month just like spring doesn't. As the moon waxes or wanes and becomes half full the moon and sun are at right angles and partially cancel each other out resulting in lower highs and higher lows. This is the neap tide, almost as unhelpful as 'spring'.

As orbits are not circles the Earth is closer or further away from the sun over the course of a year and the moon behaves the same way. When it's close than usual we get super moons and king tides (finally a type of tide that does what it sounds like). In the animation the sun and moon actually grow and shrink in proportion to their distance from Earth.

Here's how to read the animation. The date and time at the bottom of the screen refers to the tide right in the middle. The full screen shows the forecast running from 12 hours before the current time to 12 hours later. The vertical range is from -4 feet to 10 feet, relative to mean lower low water (MLLW), the average lowest tide over 19 years. The sun and moon are on a different scale - 360 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees vertically.

The tide forecast is pulled from the NOAA Tides and Currents API. I used SunCalc-Net for the position of the sun and moon, and the phase of and distance to the moon. For the distance to the sun I used a formula I found on StackExchange.

I wanted to both fit in a full year and run slowly enough to see what's going on each month so the video is around 20 minutes long. I won't be offended if you don't finish it.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: One Year of Tides Animated (with Sun and Moon) #etc #tides #sun #moon #sanfrancisco #video Animation showing four influences on the tide - the position of the sun and moon, and the distance of the sun and moon from the earth. Illustrates tide height and sun/moon position and distance as seen from San Francisco, California. )

ITHCWY Newsletter for February 2021

Thingiverse render of 72-58mm adapter

It's been a while since I put out a newsletter after a fairly quiet end to last year. Here are some recent highlights.

How to Save a Planet (with an Infiniti QX55)

Lock up the Flexible Spending Account Administrators

Software: Catfood Earth 4.10 updates to the latest National Weather Service "API" and also 2021a timezones. Photo Sorter 1.10 helps control the scourge of duplicate JPEGs.

Timelapse: Sunset #6, what would happen if you used a style transfer neural network on every frame of a timelapse? This (instructions).

Hikes: Abrigo ValleyGrabtown Gulch and Mariposa Loop.

I'm not sure why during the pandemic I've used way more electricity but the same amount of gas.

Some thoughts on the results of the election, written before the Capitol riot.

Previously:

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Book reviews for February 2021

The Expert System’s Champion (Expert System, #2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Expert System’s Champion (Expert System, #2) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

4/5

 

Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos by Darrell Rigby

Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos by Darrell Rigby

3/5

 

Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction by Chuck Klosterman

Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction by Chuck Klosterman

4/5

 

The World According to Physics by Jim Al-Khalili

The World According to Physics by Jim Al-Khalili

3/5

 

Winterkill (Dark Iceland #6) by Ragnar Jónasson

Winterkill (Dark Iceland #6) by Ragnar Jónasson

3/5

 

The Choice Factory: 25 behavioural biases that influence what we buy by Richard Shotton

The Choice Factory: 25 behavioural biases that influence what we buy by Richard Shotton

4/5

 

Whiteout (Dark Iceland) by Ragnar Jónasson

Whiteout (Dark Iceland) by Ragnar Jónasson

3/5

 

There Is No Antimemetics Division by qntm

There Is No Antimemetics Division by qntm

5/5

 

Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind by Peter Godfrey-Smith

4/5

 

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How to Save a Planet (with an Infiniti QX55)

Updated on Friday, February 17, 2023

QX55

I've been meaning to check out the new Gimlet/Spotify podcast, How to Save a Planet, and finally listened to the first episode about wind power last week.

It was sponsored by the Infiniti QX55.

This is not even a hybrid. It's a 268 horsepower SUV. Consumer Reports says:

"The company cited 26 mpg combined (city and highway) when the QX50 was introduced for 2019. We measured just 22 mpg overall in our tests, putting it on par with larger, more powerful SUVs. And it required premium fuel. Subsequently, the official EPA estimate was downgraded to 25 mpg."

It's not even a particularly efficient SUV. You are really unlikely to be saving a planet this way. I'm not sure I can bear to find out who sponsors the second episode. I'm imagining a subscription panda steak service or bitcoin.

I shouldn't throw stones. I bought into a Volkswagen clean diesel (which came with a green tax credit before they got busted). I currently drive a Land Rover that can only hit it's claimed mpg if the engine stop technology is working. That only happens for about twelve miles after it has been serviced, which feels like the same sort of scam as the Volkswagen frankly.

Or maybe the clue is in the indefinite article and they read my post about extreme environmentalism.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: How to Save a Planet (with an Infiniti QX55) #etc #climatechange #environmentalism #podcast You're not really helping to save the planet if you're helping Infinity to sell more QX55's. )

Lock up the Flexible Spending Account Administrators

Law and Order: FSA

I have just spent hours unfucking my FSA.

My dentist overcharged the FSA debit card by $2.10 due to some mix up between expected and actual insurance payment. Which would have sorted itself out on the next visit, but apparently it's an FSA emergency which needs paperwork now!

There are at least 28 million of these types of FSA/HSA accounts in the US.

Life expectancy at birth has fallen to 681,995 hours. So assuming that on average each account generates two hours of needless admin per year this is the equivalent of killing 68 people.

FSA administrators who won't chill and let the $2.10 go are killing us at a comparable rate to serial killers.

Serial killers are pretty terrifying and justifiably get a lot of TV shows and FBI task forces aimed at them. But we'd save as many lives by giving FSA administrators 25 years to life every time they decide to reconcile to the last cent. And we should be watching Law & Order: FSA where the detectives drink to conceal the pain of uploading a PDF and explaining your situation in 500 characters or less.

Or we could save the time and money and lives and implement single payer healthcare.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Lock up the Flexible Spending Account Administrators #etc #hsa #fsa Flexible spending account administrators probably kill more Americans than serial killers and should probably suffer similar consequences. )

etc, hsa, fsa

Open Democracy

Open Democracy

I just listened to Ezra Klien interview Hélène Landemore on her idea for political reform: open democracy:

"One in which we let groups of randomly selected citizens actually deliberate and govern. One in which we trust deliberation and diversity, not elections and political parties, to shape our ideas and to restrain our worst impulses."

This is very similar to what I've called legislative service, where a random jury of citizens would replace the Senate. In my vision you still have elected representatives who propose legislation and the panel of citizens acts to approve or deny. In open democracy you retain the benefit of a random selection of citizens presumably immune to corruption but they are debating and proposing laws as well. That's the gist I got from the interview, there is a book as well which I will read at some point.

Ezra raises some good objections, like voters feeling alienated from the decision of a panel that they didn't elect (less of an issue for legislative service than open democracy I think) and also the role of experts in the system (lobbyists as a positive force). I think he gets it wrong on California though:

"We have a pretty robust proposition process here. And I think the broad view is that it has been captured. Special interests get whatever they want on it whenever they want."

The problem is that Uber (or whoever) can pour money into marketing their proposition to the point where you feel you'd be letting down the puppy-saving firefighters if you vote against it (I'm possibly mixing up my ads here). With an adversarial jury style system you'd at least have a group of citizens looking at the actual pros and cons.

The interview is worth a listen, and I'll report back on the book when I read it.

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(Published to the Fediverse as: Open Democracy #politics #politicalreform #democracy #legislativeservice #opendemocracy Open Democracy is a system proposed by Hélène Landemore that would empower a random jury of citizens to enact legislation. I compare it to Legislative Service which calls on citizens to approve legislation but not propose it. )