to whom I paid tolls

Mounted to the windshield of my car is an I-Pass toll transponder, which is Illinois’s version of the E-ZPass toll transponder used to collect tolls throughout much of the eastern half of the country. I find it both fascinating and creepy that using a toll transponder creates an electronic record of your whereabouts: Some observations: Both the transponder in my car and the transponder in my wife’s car are in her name.

socialized booze

The word “socialism” has been frequently misused recently, mostly in hyperbole about the recent health care reforms. However, socialism is alive and well in another sector of the economy, in a number states in which the government has a monopoly on retail sales of spirits. The New York Times describes the liquor control system in the state of Washington, a system which will be eliminated on Friday: State control, in turn, made generations of civil servants tastemaking critics — their decisions on what to stock dictating what people could order in bars or buy in the stores.

Someone needs to take a stats class

“[I]n the end this is not a scientific survey. It’s a random survey.”—Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Florida), explaining his opposition to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Rep. Webster should hope that his campaign advisors have a better understanding of sound polling methodology than he does. (Via Matthew Yglesias.)

Visit to the 9/11 Memorial

Today, Sarah and I visited the National September 11 Memorial, which sits on Ground Zero. Visiting the memorial requires a visitor pass. The passes are free, but have to be reserved ahead of time on their web site. (I reserved our passes in late April, and there were already no slots available on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.) There was about a 15 minute wait to enter the memorial, which included passing through metal detectors.

Looking forward to the 14th b’ak’tun

The media has been discussing the recent discovery of Mayan astronomical calculations of events well past 2012. They are saying that this debunks the notion that the Maya predicted the end of the world on 21 December. Here’s a video news summary from Slate: While this is really cool as an archaeological find, it doesn’t debunk anything that hasn’t been debunked a many, many times before. Indeed, the notion that the Maya ascribed any eschatological meaning to the end of the 13th b’ak’tun has been throughly discredited.

PhanBlog: now with blogroll!

I’ve added a blogroll, which you should see on the left of the main page of this blog. (Of course, some of these blogs regularly express opinions with which I disagree, so you shouldn’t construe inclusion on my blogroll as an endorsement of that author’s political views.)

A bowl full of candy bars is another example of “a breakfast they’ll want to eat”

Recently, the makers of Nutella settled a class-action lawsuit from a San Diego mother who claimed advertising mislead her into thinking the stuff was healthy. I found a YouTube video of one of the ads embedded in Carly Rothman’s article about the lawsuit: Here’s a question for you: Do you think the health claims in this ad are misleading? That’s a trick question, because the ad makes no health claims.

My photography featured on the BBC News website!

Yesterday, I found a photo I took in 2003 used on the BBC News site! It’s pretty awesome. Here’s what happened: Back in 2003, I received a digital camera as a graduation gift. I used it to take a photo of one of my favorite signs: the sign for the Boring/Oregon City exit on U.S. 26. I was relatively new to photography; I don’t think it’s my best work. The next year, I uploaded a copy of this photo to Wikipedia.