18th Anniversary of Blogging

Here is my first blog post from 18 years ago, which makes it as old as a legal adult. Wow…

Two Footballs

I got started at a place called Diaryland. A friend, Lacey, had started using it. Back in those days, I was up for trying pretty much anything geeky friends were doing. Blogging was a natural place for me to go.

Diaryland became Pitas and the site there was the first Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric. As other platforms became available, I tried them all:

My activity is far less now than it was back in 2000, but as I understand, most people active back then primarily post on Facebook or Twitter.

Qualification for President

The office of President of the United States is an enormous one. This is a person who in order to run the government has to appoint over a thousand positions. The senior advisers number over a hundred.

Being able to locate and retain the services of high quality people is a huge challenge. Throw in the winner has less than 3 months from election to occupancy to get a good start. And the longer it takes, the more people question your ability to do the job.

Looking at the current administration, it strikes me that painfully obvious issues are starting to bear fruit.

  1. The President was picked by voters to shake up Washington elites. People like the Speaker of the House and Senate Leader are having to acclimate to change. This is why PotUS hates the legislation, but has to sign anyway to preserve the symbiosis.
  2. As an non-politician outsider, his inital advisers were limited to early supporters who tended to be fringe elements who burned their normal bridges. Or hacks no one else would hire. These are people without power or influence who suddenly have to figure out how to wield it. They were fringe because no one trusted them. They are why scary policy keeps getting retracted.
  3. Later advisers are elites whe saw the winds of change (sycophants). They are there because power is there. These are the people getting fired within a year because of corrupt instincts.
  4. Once everyone saw who would be President, longtime political operatives who disagree with most instincts of the president but love country and party signed on. These are the people trying to restore the status quo from the hacks and sycophants.
  5. The Deep State are career government employees of all parties. They provide the inertia that is the reason why presidential candidates usually to cause much actual change. The government needs them to function and there are millions compared to the thousand appointees.

The anonymous Opinion piece about the Republican Resistance is part of #4. There probably has always been elements of the above in administrations. Other administrations appointed almost all political operatives or people mentored to become one. Is it better? It worked smoother as these people were aligned with the bosses and easily replaced when not. It gets stuff done and allows the PotUS to focus on policy instead of little fires every day.

Talk about a Constitutional crisis is probably overblown. As is calling people keeping the status quo traitors. Their oath of office is to the country not the President. Many people are going to do their best for the country.

Next time, perhaps people will better consider whether a candidate has shown the experience of setting up a government. How they run their campaign is a useful way. Establishing functional headquarters in states who run a strong ground game talking to voters and being able to bring on advisers with strong connections shows what kind of government they will build.

GA Voter Registrations Increase

I was reading an article about how the two candidates for governor represent two sides of voter registrations. One ran an organization who went around getting people registered to vote. The other ran an organization who got legislation to make it easier to remove registered voters and make it harder for people to prove their identity to cast a vote.

Kemp said his record proves he has increased voting access.

The number of registered voters in Georgia increased from 5.8 million when he took office in 2010 to 6.7 million today.

The way this is stated suggests he increased the number of voters by 15% which is impressive.

But, then I remembered that the Georgia population over the same period increased by a significant amount. Maybe a similar amount of people became registered voters? From 2010 to 2017, the adult population was 7.4 million and increased to 7.9 million. So the adult population increased by 0.5 million and the number of voters increased by 0.9 million. That seems like maybe the registration efforts have been successful.

Next, I thought maybe as a percentage of the adult population would better reflect the true state. In 2010, about 78.9% of the adult population were registered to vote. (Used the 5.8 million registered voters above and the Census numbers for adults in 2010.) The Census doesn’t have a 2018 estimate yet, but the registered voters from the quote are for current (August) in 2018. I went looking for historical registered voters records on the Secretary of State website, but they have only as recent up to 2014. Next, I looked at 2017 election results in hopes of finding one. Interestingly, the May 2018 primary claimed there were 6.1 million registered voters. So, I looked at the August 1 number in Kemp’s own website which is: 6,176,672.

Going back to the original, the Georgia population increased by 0.5 million and the number of voters by 0.3 million. As a percentage, it was 78.9% in 2010 and using the 2017 population and 2018 number of voters, the percentage was 78%. So the percentage of adults registered to vote dropped by almost a full percent. (The Georgia population is probably higher in July 2018 than it was in July 2017, so the percentage of adults registered to vote is probably lower.)

Not as good. And the AJC needs to fact check numbers like this. And, the Secretary of State needs to not inflate the number of registered voters by 10%.

Pseudo-Following

There are a handful of people who post interesting things, but I cannot stand the 99% of what they post. Is it worth the pain sifting through thousands of crap posts to reach the one gem?

I discovered that I have a strategy for this dilemma. Follow someone who reposts the interesting stuff. Let them do the hard work.

Tech is the new tobacco

My father as a teenager told me stories about the horrors of picking tobacco to encourage me to do well in school because manual labor sucks. The Truth Campaign started when I was young. But, technology companies appear to have learned only part of the lessons of Big Tobacco. This is AT&T mimicking Phillip Morris in a town hall with HBO employees who are part of the merger with Warner Brothers.

I want more hours of engagement. Why are more hours of engagement important? Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow’s world.”

Technology companies call their clients users, which is what drug dealers call their clients. So one would hope tech would avoid more parallels, but it still seems that exploiting addiction is still the driver of tech. The business model is attention. There can never be enough attention, so they only have incentives to get more users and make those users spend more time.

Georgia Campus Carry Year One

AJC TL;DR: 27 violations; no shootings.

Basically, the AJC says that some students seem to have some issues understanding this pretty complicated law and run into situations where they are in violation. They are unaware that concealed means it needs to be out of sight. (Some supporters really want Open Carry.) Some people are negligent, such as the people at UGA who left guns in gym lockers, the conference center hotel room, or at a bus stop. This is still better than Georgia K-12 school teachers who accidentally discharged their gun or left it in places for a student to find them.

Supporters, in general, want a simpler law that allows guns everywhere as the existing one is pretty complicated to comply with given all the exceptions. Opponents, in general, want it repealed. Faculty supporters of campus carry feel the law discriminates against them because they can carry in their classroom but not their office. Faculty opponents see themselves under a more severe disadvantage to angry students still developing their executive function in the brain.

Somewhat surprised the AJC failed to add a few related things from their own reporting:

It doesn’t really look like campus carry ended shootings on campus. Nor did it spur a Wild West constant shootout situation or a rampage of mass shootings. Students are still getting robbed near campuses. So, it made some students feel safer that they are carrying a gun. Well, until they are held up and someone steals their $500 gun.

 

 

RIP Home Box Office

Mr. Stankey described a future in which HBO would substantially increase its subscriber base and the number of hours that viewers spend watching its shows. To pull it off, the network will have to come up with more content, transforming itself from a boutique operation, with a focus on its signature Sunday night lineup, into something bigger and broader.

HBO focuses on quality, spending millions on making a project right. When I saw HBO picked up the rights to make Game of Thrones, I was excited because I expected it would be high quality and got better than I expected. When I saw Auckland File Studios was making The Shannara Chronicles, I was disappointed because I did not expect high quality. It was so bad MTV dumped it to a lower profile network. The same as with Legend of the Seeker (based on The Sword of Truth), which was pretty bad. Both were other networks trying to capture the magic of GoT. Sony and Amazon Studios are co-developing a Wheel of Time series, and I have been pretty happy with what Amazon Studios has put out there.

Netflix is much more hit-and-miss as some things I like and other are meh. I rather liked the way South Park mocked N by having the kids trying to sell them on a hundred superhero movies because N will buy anything. Having HBO trying to be Netflix bothers me because I will always make sure to watch the HBO shows I am interested in watching. I often have conversations with people excited about their shows. Fewer people talk about Netflix shows and when they do, it is usually about how they were disappointed in it being not as good as they expected.

AT&T having HBO be more like Netflix means sacrificing quality to achieve quantity. Sure, this executive wants to have both, but to make that happen, AT&T better be prepared to heavily invest so much money into HBO that it is a huge money sink for them. My guess is that is not acceptable. So, RIP HBO.

Fact Check: Akon Lighting Africa

Saw a friend posted a photo claiming Akon had provided solar power to 600 million Africans, but the media was not going to tell you about it. It also questioned what is it the NGOs are doing.

This was an amazing claim, so I went looking into it. “Akon solar power” led me to his company Akon Lighting Africa. The key figures on the home page look much more modest with 100K street lamps, 1,200 micro-grids, and 102K domestic kits. The initial claim was that there were 600M without access to electricity. It does not look like it has put a dent in that number, much less the goal of 80 million people. The company was founded in 2014.

In 2015 they claimed to have provided solar power to about 8 million people (using the average household size of 8.7 people in Senegal rounded down; used average household size for Senegal as that is where Akon is from and started).

As of 2016, they claimed to have helped 1.5M lives.

Source: Twitter search for “from:AkonLighting million

Hopefully 1 million households in the first one should have been lives to make it consistent. Otherwise, in 2016 there was a huge backslide.

Let’s unpack the current numbers on the website.

  • 102K domestic kits = 887.4K lives
  • It is not clear what the micro-grid means, but the website has photos of charging stations attached to a set of solar cells. That could mean about 600K additional people counted not with power in their home, but able to visit a charging station to charge up a device to bring home.
    • My interpretation of micro-grid would be a network of homes connected to a grid. It would also power the street lamps.

Eviction filings to collect late rent

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of eviction filings from Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton counties found that more than a third of the 1 million cases filed since 2010 were serial filings — filings made within a year of one another at the same property, against a tenant with the same name. The AJC found more than 70,000 cases where renters got three or more eviction notices at the same property…

Falling behind one month often leads to a grueling cycle of repeat filings and eviction fees, leaving a tenant thousands of dollars in the hole with a ruined financial record in the process. Tenants carry those filings with them, making it harder to rent somewhere else, even if they were never actually evicted.

This probably is not solely an Atlanta thing. My guess is cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and DC where affordable housing is becoming a crisis problem as rents are skyrocketing. Amazon HQ2 coming to Atlanta would probably make the problem much worse. Though, 20% of rental households experiencing this makes worse seem unfathomable.

My guess is tenants sign a lease near the 30% household income which is the legal threshold. I wonder if landlords are required to recheck household income as they annually raise rents? If not, people could be fine the first couple years, but end up in a situation where they are no longer able to afford their home because rents are going up 19% a year where hourly wages are 4% a year.

The company noted in the story has about half their tenants with serial filings. For them to be serial filings, they are allowing these people to stay. Probably not because they have hearts of gold, but because turning out half your tenants means you will have vacant units which earn you no income.